I went into the market the other day, and I did something I don’t normally do – I decided to read some food labels on boxed food.
And there was one thing in particular that I noticed on almost everything around: Hydrogenated oils.
I’m sure you’ve seen them on a jar of peanut butter, or on a box of cookies and crackers, or maybe even in your margarine you put on toast in the morning.
But what are these hydrogenated oils, and are they bad for you?
5 Studies That Show How Hydrogenated Oils Destroy Your Body (Margarine Especially)
What Research Has Found On These Hydrogenated Oils
1. Increases LDL cholesterol
In the first study, people over age 50 were given one of four diets for around 35 days – partially hydrogenated soybean oil, soybean oil, palm oil, or canola oil.
Now it doesn’t mean that their diet was based on these – their diet was supplemented with one of four oils.
The only ones that showed negative effects were palm and partially hydrogenated soybean oil, which showed an increase in LDL cholesterol.
2. Causes inflammation and hardening of the arterial walls
A second study found that partially hydrogenated vegetable oils cause inflammation and calcification of arterial walls: known risk factors for coronary heart disease.
Aka it’s bad for your heart.
3. Colorectal cancer risk
A third study done in the southern USA wanted to see if trans-fatty acids were linked to colorectal cancer risk at all.
And here’s what they found:
The higher the consumptions of trans fatty acids, the higher the risk of colorectal cancer in white people but not African Americans.
The correlation was pretty clear cut – a higher intake led to a higher incidence of colorectal cancer.
Now in this study, it’s important to note that this was an association and thus doesn’t necessarily prove anything, although foods with hydrogenated oils tend to have lots of other junk in them too.
4. Cardiovascular disease
In another study, male rats were fed a standard chow or high-fat diet containing different Trans Fatty Acid (TFA) levels ranging from <1%, <2%, and >2% of total fat in fresh soybean oil, oxidized soybean oil, and margarine, respectively, for 4 weeks.
And here’s what happened (poor lil suckers):
- Triglycerides significantly increased
- Total cholesterol went up
- LDL (bad) cholesterol went up
The worst effect came from margarine – the margarine rat group had DOUBLE the level of trans fatty acids (and thus saw a correlated increase in heart disease risk).
5. For every 2% increase in trans-fatty acids consumption, there’s a 20-32% increased risk of heart attack or death.
A final meta-analysis of multiple studies indicated 24, 20, 27 and 32% higher risk of myocardial infarction – heart attack – or cardiac-related deaths for every 2% energy of TFA consumption.
So let’s put that in perspective.
For every 2% of your calories coming from these trans fatty acids, the risk of DYING goes up between 24-32%.
Your Tiny Habit For Today
Hehe… this one is easy.
Eat hydrogenated oils, and you will DIE!!
Just kidding. Actually, not really.
But in all seriousness, it can seem like it’s pretty tough to avoid these because they seem ever-present.
So where are they, and how do you avoid them?
First, these are almost exclusively found in boxed and packaged foods. They’re extremely common in shelf-foods because it helps the oils with shelf stability and preservation.
The easiest rule is the simplest – just eat real food, as best you can. That means cooking whatever you can, eating fresh produce whenever you can, and avoiding anything in a box as best you can. If you have to buy boxed or canned food, read the ingredients because there’s almost always something added (sugar, fat, salt).
Where Have You Spotted Hydrogenated Oils Hiding?
Plasma profiles: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16825681 |Other: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19345947 | Colorectal Cancer association: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2809818/ | Heart stuff: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25794039 | Final heart stuff: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19424218