What are Hydrogenated Oils and Trans Fat Health Risks?

Hydrogenated oils are in more foods than you may first think. What are hydrogenated oils? They are oils that have been modified to contain additional (usually one more) hydrogen atoms.

This changes the shape of the compound and alters the physical properties of the original oil’s state.

Think cakes, waffles, French fries, fish and chips, and peanut butter. There is a darker side to the various foods that people may have as a common part of their diet. As we explore the topic around trans fats we will find out more about:

  • What are Hydrogenated Oils? and
  • What are the risks around long term exposure to Hydrogenated Oils?

Are you concerned about your diet, and the fat intake you have? As you start to look more closely at your diet and the foods you have which are loaded with sweeteners and preservatives, it can begin to get a little overwhelming.

Let me begin by saying that not all fats are bad. Some are very good for you and are needed for a healthy body. But, what has been done to those fats in the manufacturing process?

What Are Hydrogenated Oils doing to my Body?

Hydrogenated Oils are very high in trans fats. Having gone through a process of transmogrification, which has changed how they would normally behave. These are the types of oils that no longer possess the characteristics of unprocessed oils, such as coconut oil. 1

Have you noticed that coconut oil can change to a liquid when at an ambient room temperature of around 30 degrees Celsius? This is something that Hydrogenated Oils are unable to do.

They stay solidified when exposed to higher temperatures. That is not good for your body if you are consuming them. Effectively, this is the difference between good fats and bad fats.

These fats are bad because they will not soften and melt when they are being digested. Often the trans fats will start building up in places like the colon or arteries.

The transmogrification process is used to be able to keep products like margarine and chocolates in a presentable state. Keeping it firm through a range of higher temperatures during transportation and storage.

This is all in the interests of extending shelf life, and not extending your life.

This modification to the structure of the oil then introduces complications when it interacts with your body. From a chemically designed perspective, their cellular surface is changed to improve how they bond.

Beneath the surface, they are typically unchanged as an oil. Through this change, they have an impact on how your body functions and they are understood to prevent certain human cellular functions from behaving as they otherwise should.

Effects on the Body

Trans fats are capable of stopping your body from functioning efficiently, interfering with your metabolism, and your body being ability to perform key functions.

Given that they have such an acute impact on your biology, they have been compared to poisons such as cyanide and arsenic by others in the health and wellness space.

These are not found in nature, and our bodies have no natural way of dealing with them.

Hydrogenated Oils accumulate in your system, and result in serious complications beyond obesity. The human body has no means to break these down and flush them out, as it does with all things we consume.

A simple rule I live by is that if you put it in your mouth as food or drink, it should come out the other end once your body is done with it. If it does not, then it is not fit to be used as food or drink.

We are not meant to be sponges that accumulate toxins and exist on junk as we poison ourselves.

An interesting fact about the manufacture of Hydrogenated Oils is that they are steam distilled in the final stages of the manufacturing process to remove any odours.

Hydrogenated Oils don’t smell. This way the inclusion of Hydrogenated Oils into the products you are consuming is not detected. Hopefully, that helps with understanding what are Hydrogenated Oils a little better.

In short, they are bad.

Now, I know that all of this sounds a little conspiracy theorist, but at the end of the day, if it smelt bad, or tasted bad, you wouldn’t buy it.

There’s no repeat business in what is perceived as yucky, so billions of dollars are spent on honing the recipe at every level to get it just right from a taste, cost, and shelf life perspective.

This is basic business at work, which can be a good thing, provided you are not poisoning your customers.

What Are Hydrogenated Oils found in?

There is a broad range of products that you can buy which contain Hydrogenated Oils. Many of these you may not have even thought it was possible that they would contain oils, let alone Hydrogenated Oils.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, so make sure you check the packaging before you put the product in your mouth:

  • Cake mixes
  • Biscuits
  • Pancake mixes
  • Icing (or frosting) mixes
  • Frozen bakery products
  • Waffles
  • Muffins
  • Pies
  • Donuts
  • Whipped toppings
  • Crackers
  • Margarine
  • Shortening
  • Processed peanut butter (unless freshly ground)
  • Instant mashed potato
  • Frozen meals
  • Taco shells and corn chips
  • French fries
  • Cocoa mixes
  • Frozen meats and fish (such as burgers and fish sticks)
  • Microwave popcorn

As you dig deeper into the effects that trans fats have on your body, you will begin to learn more about the molecular structure of things such as triglyceride and unsaturated fats.

Add to that what you will learn about how the body produces and uses insulin naturally. Understanding more about what are Hydrogenated Oils and what they do to our bodies becomes more important than you may have first thought.


  1. “Transmogrification: Casual manipulation of visualizations” – J. Brosz, R. Pusch, M. Nacenta, S. Carpendale, 8 October 2013 [Research Gate] [Archive] ↩︎

Last Updated on 4 months by D&C Editorial Team


About the Author

Matthew has been on an active journey towards living a healthy life from a young age. Influenced by his Grandmother, a practicing Naturopath who served her community from the 1940's to the 1980's, his views on living holistically were shaped from a young age. Growing up in different parts of Australia, his connection with the Ocean and a passion for sustainability comes through in everything he does and shares.

"I'm not a Doctor, and I don't play one on the Internet." - me

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