Hydrogenated oil is a kind of oil where the essential fatty acids that are the components of the oil is transformed into a different form through a chemical process.
Oil has been hydrogenated as a way of extending its shelf life and to give the oils more stability. Hydrogenated oil will not get rancid immediately and it also has a higher melting point, which makes it a good ingredient for frying and for baking pastries. Hydrogenation of oils changes the oil’s chemical structure, which has been discovered to have negative effects on a person’s health.
Oil is hydrogenated by forcing hydrogen into the oil through the use of high pressure. Animal and vegetable fats can both undergo hydrogenation. As a rule, oil that is more solid also gets more hydrogenated. Some examples of hydrogenated oils are margarine and Crisco. Around the 1990s it was discovered that hydrogenated oils can cause negative effects on the body. Prior to this discovery, hydrogenated oils were marketed as a healthier alternative to regular oils.
In regular oil, the unstable fatty acids are actually unsaturated fats, which is found to be healthier for people because it acts as a cholesterol reducing agent. With hydrogenated oils, the healthy fatty acids are transformed into a different kind of fatty acid called a trans fat. Trans fats are very bad for the health. There are some hydrogenated oil products (like margarine) that is actually comprised of almost fifty percent trans fat, which makes it really bad for the health.