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6 Ways to Avoid Hydrogenated Oil

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  • What Is Hydrogenated Oil?

    What Is Hydrogenated Oil?

    Food companies began using hydrogenated oil to help increase shelf life and save costs. Hydrogenation is a process in which a liquid unsaturated fat is turned into a solid fat by adding hydrogen. During this processing, a type of fat called trans fat is made. While small amounts of trans fats are found naturally in some foods, the majority of trans fats in the diet come from these processed hydrogenated fats.

    Hydrogenated oils can affect heart health because they increase “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and lower “good” (HDL) cholesterol. Still, food manufacturers continue to use them — especially partially hydrogenated oils (POH) — to:

    • save money
    • extend shelf life
    • add texture
    • increase stability

    Hydrogenated oil isn’t always easy to spot, but there are ways to pinpoint it and avoid it for good.

  • Know the Common Culprits

    Know the Common Culprits

    Hydrogenated oils are most commonly found in foods that also have saturated fat, such as:

    • margarine
    • vegetable shortening
    • packaged snacks
    • baked goods (especially premade versions)
    • ready-to-use dough
    • fried foods
    • coffee creamers (both dairy and non-dairy)
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  • Read Food Labels Carefully

    Read Food Labels Carefully

    Since hydrogenated oil contains trans fats, it’s best to avoid any food product that contains hydrogenated oil. Still, a product labeled as free from trans fats doesn’t mean it is. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a company can label a food free of trans fats if the actual content is 0.5 grams per serving or less. This isn’t the same as 0 grams.

    Some food labels claim there are no trans fats, but POH may still be listed as one of the ingredients. This is why it’s important to read both the food label and the ingredients list.

  • Use Vegetable Oils for Cooking

    Use Vegetable Oils for Cooking

    Margarine and shortening are easy to cook with, but they contain hydrogenated oils. Opt for heart-healthy vegetable oils, such as safflower, canola, and olive oil instead. Consider baking and broiling your foods instead of frying them to save on fat and calories.

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  • Be Aware of Oils in Processed Foods

    Be Aware of Oils in Processed Foods

    Margarine and shortening are easy to cook with, but they contain hydrogenated oils. Opt for heart-healthy vegetable oils, such as safflower, canola, and olive oil instead. Consider baking and broiling your foods instead of frying them to save on fat and calories.

  • Limit Packaged Foods

    Limit Packaged Foods

    Hydrogenated oils go hand in hand with food preservation, so hydrogenated fat often ends up in packaged foods. Decrease your dependence on packaged foods. Start by eliminating one food group at a time. For example, cook your own rice or potatoes from scratch instead of relying on seasoned, boxed versions.

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  • Makeover Your Snacks

    Makeover Your Snacks

    Snacks can be an important part of a balanced diet. Not only do they sustain you until the next meal, but they can also help keep you from being overly hungry and prevent drops in blood sugar. The problem is that many convenient snacks are made with hydrogenated oil.

    Opt for more satiating snacks that are naturally free of trans fats, including:

    • mixed nuts
    • carrot sticks
    • apple slices
    • a banana
    • plain yogurt

    (Remember to check the labels of any packaged goods you might eat with these snacks, such as hummus, peanut butter, and yogurt.)

  • Making the Transition

    Making the Transition

    Hydrogenated oils are so abundant in everyday foods, that it may seem downright impossible to completely avoid this dangerous fat. But you can eliminate hydrogenated oils from your diet for good with careful planning. Consider eliminating one culprit at a time to ease into a better, heart-healthy diet.

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