When any kind of oil has gone through a specific manufacturing process, the resulting substance is called hydrogenated fat. Even though most oils in pure form are heart-healthy, once oil has been turned into hydrogenated oil, it is no longer good for the body. In fact, this type of fat is thought to be extremely harmful to the heart, and the the body as a whole. Many packaged foods contain hydrogenated fat.
Hydrogenated fat is produced when hydrogen is added to oil, which turns the liquid oil into a solid block of fat. Manufacturers encourage this process, since foods containing manufactured vegetable oil have a longer shelf life than foods that do not contain hydrogenated fat.
Even though the process of hydrogenating certain oils may seem like a recent invention, this process was invented during the 1890s. Chemist Paul Sabatier devised the process for turning certain substances into hydrogenated substances. One of the first foods to contain hydrogenated fat was margarine. Following Sabatier's lead, chemist Wilhelm Normann experimented with various oils until he found a way to turn pure oil into hydrogenated oil. From that day forward, foods containing hydrogenated fats could be found in abundance.
During the 1980s, considerable medical research was conducted as to the effect of hydrogenated oils on humans. These studies showed that hydrogenated oils likely contributed to heart disease, cancer, stroke, and many other serious ailments. Following these reports, some food manufacturers were forced to reduce the amount of trans fats present in certain packaged foods, though this forced reduction did not eliminate trans fats from the market altogether.
There are thousands of packaged food products that contain hydrogenated fats. Aside from these packaged products, natural trans fats can be found in certain dairy products. Natural trans fats cannot be avoided, though the amount of trans fat in these products is minimal compared to the amount of hydrogenated fat inside of packaged food products.
To find out whether or not a product contains hydrogenated fat, it is important that consumers read packaged food labels. Any food product containing partially hydrogenated oil or hydrogenated oil should be avoided. It is also important to note that not all packaged food products must warn consumers about trans fats. Each country has different guidelines in place that determine whether or not food manufacturers must disclose any amount of trans fat contained within a product.