Hydrogenation dates back to 1903. In 1911 Proctor and Gamble created Crisco which was a combination of hydrogenated palm and cottonseed oil mixed with lard and animal fat. Mmmm… yum. They couldn’t sell it so they started giving it away and you know the rest… it caught on. By 1957, margarines created by hydrogenation, were outselling butter. Hydrogenation sometimes forces hydrogen atoms to the opposite side of a fatty acid creating a trans-fat (trans means “on the other side of”). This turns the fatty acid into something that is a deadly preservative. The shelf life of foods with hydrogenated oil is virtually unlimited. Whoa! Personally, I do not think our food should last longer than we do.
Trans-fats change the way nutrients are transported across cell membranes. They weaken the protective structure and the function of the cell. Unfortunately for consumers (meaning you and me) disease rates for diabetes, heart disease and cancer have increased and many believe this is not a coincidence. Trans-fats may not be the single cause of these diseases but certainly they are a contributor.
Remember to read nutrition labels and when you see “hydrogenated” just put the item down and go look in the produce section for ingredients for your next meal.