Hydrogenated Fats

Industry's Best Kept Secret

Just about everyone in our world today is eating hydrogenated fat in one form or another - and they are eating lots of it - and yet most people have never even heard the word - let alone understand what hydrogenation is all about. This is why we refer to hydrogenation as "industry's best kept secret."
Hydrogenation is a process whereby the molecular structure of a fat is altered so that the fat becomes "hardened." Why would industry do this? For the simple reason that hydrogenated fat does not turn rancid - not for years and years and years.
Those in the know tell us that the process of hydrogenation converts fat into a type of cellulose that is not unlike plastic. If this is the case, then it is little wonder that hydrogenated fats do not turn rancid - for the same reason that plastic does not turn rancid. The problem being of course that plastic of any sort has no place in the human body - let alone in our diet.
So where are we likely to find hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats?
Besides extra virgin olive oil and a few other exceptions that are usually only sold by health food companies, almost all cooking oils and margarines are either hydrogenated or they contain high proportions of hydrogenated fat, and almost all products that list fat or oil, or partially hardened fat, will contain hydrogenated fat.
Once you have studied the following extracts, you will wonder how such fats ever found their way into the food supply, and you will have a far better understanding of why disease is so rampant in our world today. It would be difficult to judge whether hydrogenated fats are more harmful to the human system than sugar (sucrose) but, whatever the case may be, we try and avoid them like the plague.
On countless occasions we have suggested to people that they should eliminate sugar and hydrogenated fats from their diet by switching to natural alternatives, and in every case the improvement in their health was dramatic. See The Most Effective Remedy Of All.
The following shocking statement was made by John H. Tobe, an avid researcher and lobbyist for United States Government investigation into modern food processing methods.
"With an enemy as dangerous and harmful to health as hydrogenation, I make no compromise. There can be no compromise. I maintain it has no place in any food used by humans or animals."
"Once the oil has gone through the process of hydrogenation, it is no longer an oil but a plastic, a celluloid or perhaps I may stretch a point and call it a fat. I believe the end result is a useless, counterfeit, synthetic, plastic, celluloid-like, harmful chemical concoction that is an insult to human intelligence."
"Some of the oils used in margarine might have been vegetable at the onset, but any one or all of the 18 or more devitalizing processes to which it was subjected, destroyed any vestige of naturalness and turned it into a synthetic chemical or plastic."
"Yes, I maintain that hydrogenation is more dangerous than drugs, more dangerous than sprays and more dangerous than chemical fertilizers. I clearly emphasize that hydrogenation is a greater danger to our health and to our well-being than any other factor in our society." (J. H. Tobe, Margarine and Your Heart Attack, pp. 15, 8, 39, 1)
The extract following is from the book Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill, by a world authority on fats - Udo Erasmus Ph.D.
"Hydrogenation is the most common way of drastically changing natural oils. This process has major effects on health. Industry's reason for using the process is to provide cheap spreadable (plastic) products for (non-discriminating) consumers, or to provide shelf stability at the expense of nutritional value."
"It is important to know the effects of hydrogenation on oil molecules because they affect our health and, knowing these effects, we can make well-informed choices about whether or not to use hydrogenated products."
"Hydrogenation changes the unsaturated and essential fatty acids present in a natural oil. In this process, oils are reacted under pressure with hydrogen gas at high temperature (120 to 210 C; [248 to 410 F) in the presence of a metal catalyst (usually nickel [a confirmed carcinogen], but sometimes platinum or even copper) for 6 to 8 hours."
"A "nickel" catalyst often used in hydrogenation, called "Rayney's Nickel", is actually 50% nickel and 50% aluminium. Remnants of both metals remain in products containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, and are eaten by people."
"The presence of aluminium is particularly worrisome, because its presence in the human body is associated with Alzheimer's disease (mental senility), and osteoporosis, and may even facilitate the development of cancer." [And yet medical science is still mystified as to why Alzheimer's, osteoporosis and cancer are epidemic. Ed.]"
"So many different compounds can be made during partial hydrogenation that they stagger the imagination. Scientists have barely scratched the surface of studying changes induced in fats and oils by partial hydrogenation. Needless to say, the industry is hesitant to fund or publicize thorough and systematic studies on the kinds of chemicals produced and their effects on health."
"The industry is equally hesitant to publicize the information that already exists in research journals on this topic."
"Hydrogenation randomly attacks double bonds within oils. It destroys [Omega 3 essential fatty acids] very rapidly, and [Omega 6 essential fatty acids] only slightly more slowly. [No wonder essential fatty acid deficiency is so common today]. It is impossible to control the chemical outcome of the process. We cannot predict the quantities of each different kind of altered substance that will be produced. We never know what any given batch of partially hydrogenated oil product contains."
"It is possible, however, to stop the reaction when the desired degree of "hardening" has been achieved, and this is one of the industry's major reasons for using the process. It allows cheap oils to be turned into semi-liquid, plastic, or solid fats with specific "mouth feel", texture, spreadability, and shelf-life."
"Partial hydrogenation produces margarines, shortenings, shortening oils, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. These products contain large quantities of trans-fatty acids and other altered fat substances, some of which are known to be detrimental to health because they interfere with normal biochemical processes. Other altered substances have not been adequately studied regarding their effects on health."
"Trans- fatty acids have now been shown to increase cholesterol, decrease beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL), interfere with our liver's detoxification system, and interfere with Essential Fatty Acid function."
"Hydrogenation allows manufacturers to start with cheap, low-quality oils, and to turn these into products that compete with butter in spreadability. They cannot compete in taste, because margarines often taste slightly rancid."
"The low cost of raw materials allows margarine to be sold at a much lower price than butter."
"Margarine sales generate good profits, with money left over to mount massive advertising campaigns. Shoppers who are more concerned with bargains and saving money than with health buy margarine. Advertising campaigns mislead uninformed people into thinking that margarine is better than butter, using health as an advertising tool without basis in fact, experimental proof, or even statistical or anecdotal evidence. [Local advertisers even promote margarine as being good for the heart - can you believe? Ed.]"
"Margarines sold in supermarkets and natural food stores usually contain the same junk fats, even when named after famous natural healers."
"The [following] statement was made by Herbert Dutton, one of the oldest and most knowledgeable oil chemists in North America. It goes like this: "If the hydrogenation process were discovered today, it probably could not be adopted by the oil industry." He adds, "... the basis for such comment lies in the recent awareness of our prior ignorance concerning the complexity of isomers formed during hydrogenation and their metabolic and physiological fate." (Udo Erasmus Ph.D, Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, p.100-105)
The following article from the Drug Trade News gives us further insights into the hydrogenation process.
"How is the liquid oil or soft fat hardened? It is exposed to high temperature and placed under pressure. Hydrogen is then bubbled through the oil in the presence of nickel, platinum or some other catalyst. The hydrogen atoms combine with the carbon atoms, and the product becomes saturated or hardened. The new compound bears no relationship to the original oil. It is a dark, malodorous grease. It is then bleached with corrosive chemicals to finish the change from an organic to an inorganic substance; from a live to a dead concoction. Technologists' skills are used to bleach, filter and deodorize it into a pure white, odorless, tasteless, highly artificial fat. It may be processed further for making shortening, lard or margarine. The heating of the oil ruins its original character, with destruction of all vitamins and mineral factors as well as an alteration of proteins. The essential fatty acids are destroyed, or changed into abnormal toxic fatty acids antagonistic to essential fatty acids. The synthetic fat forms new molecular structures unacceptable to the human physiology."
"Dr Hugh Sinclair at the laboratory of Human Nutrition, Oxford University, has found that lack of essential fatty acids "is a contributory cause in neurological diseases, heart disease, arteriosclerosis, skin disease, various degenerative conditions such as cataract, arthritis and cancer." (Drug Trade News, July 1, 1957)
The tragedy of it all is that more than a billion pounds of hydrogenated oils are now consumed annually. Is it any wonder that the world's people are so prone to illness today?
Mr Tobe (quoted above) invites his readers to write to him for a free sample of a completely hydrogenated fat. Apparently it is so hard that you cannot even break it with a hammer.
On one occasion we were able to verify the claim that these fats take on the properties of plastic while visiting a friend. A few days previously she had made popcorn, using hydrogenated oil. After making the popcorn she was a little too tired to wash the pot, and so she put it, oil and all, in the cupboard under the sink, intending to wash it in the morning. But the pot was not thought about again until two or three days later. When our friend eventually came across the pot, she was amazed to find that it contained a stiff, clear, plastic-like gel. I kept a piece of that plastic for seven years and it never turned rancid.
As we proceed further, you will see why hydrogenated fats are being cited as a primary cause of many diseases. From even an unscientific viewpoint, it really is quite simple - our bodies have been wonderfully made, but they simply cannot digest or assimilate a substance that is not unlike plastic. If plastic is indestructible, how can we ever expect it to be digestible?
In the past 50 years, death from heart disease has increased 300% and death from cancer has doubled. The soap industry was introduced to hydrogenation in 1912. The food industry adopted the process some time after this. Is there a connection? Way back in 1956 a leading article in the prestigious Lancet Magazine presented the following warning.
"The hydrogenation plants of our modern food industry may turn out to have contributed to the causation of a major disease." (Lancet, 1956. 2, 557)
It is my conviction that the hydrogenation plants have not only contributed to "a major disease" but, as the following confirms, to many diseases.
Heart Disease

Dr. Hoffman describes how hydrogenated fats fool the body into believing that they are food. Only when these fats enter the bloodstream does the body realise that they are foreign to the human system - and all that the body can do is to put these fats into storage somewhere in the body. There is every reason to believe, therefore, that these fats contribute to the curse of our modern age - the fatty deposits that build up on arterial walls.
"A large, well-controlled study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1990 shows conclusively that trans-fatty acids increase total cholesterol and `bad' low-density lipoprotein (LDL), both of which are correlated with increased cardiovascular disease, disproving manufacturers' advertising claims that suggest that margarines can be good for the health of our heart." (Udo Erasmus Ph.D, Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, p.111)

"Many kinds of cancer are associated with diets that are high in fats."
"When this information is analyzed and compared to the increase in the incidence of deaths from cancer over the last 80 years (from 1 in 30 people in 1900 to 1 in 4 people in 1990), cancer increase parallels the increase in our consumption of fats of vegetable origin. Even closer correlation is found between cancer increase and increased consumption of hydrogenated, trans- fatty acid-containing vegetable oils." (Udo Erasmus Ph.D, Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, p.111)

We have seen hundreds of people lose weight at a rate that is startling by simply using the following suggested alternatives...
Instead of frying - we bake food or sautè in water
Instead of hydrogenated fats - use fresh cream or natural oils
Instead of sugar - use fructose, honey or fruit cream.
It follows, therefore, that if people lose weight when they stop using these products, some responsibility for their increased mass must lie with their use of these products.
Toxic Overload

"Science advances funeral by funeral."
(Niels Bohr, Nobel Prize-winning Physicist)
"The 60 grams (2 ounces) of margarines and shortenings we consume each day contains more than twice as many toxic "food additives" than are found in the other 2640 grams of food that men consume each day, or the other 1740 grams of food consumed each day by women." (Udo Erasmus Ph.D, Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, p.106)

In a previous statement, John Tobe expressed his belief that once a fat has been hydrogenated it is `a useless, counterfeit, synthetic, plastic, celluloid-like, harmful chemical concoction that is an insult to human intelligence.
Then Dr. Rosenvold tells us that...
"if human beings eat larger quantities of fat than the body can properly handle they store some of that fat 'as is'. For example: excess bacon fat is stored as pig fat." (Dr L. & D. Rosenvold, Science and Modern Manna, p. 23)
Now if hydrogenated fats are celluloid-like, and if the body stores excess fat as is, it follows that our celluloid-like hydrogenated fats could well be a main contributor to the almost universal cellulite problem that women have been experiencing in recent decades?
Women who cut out these fats, and who follow a more natural dietary, usually do find a great improvement in their cellulite problem.
Many a scientific mind will attempt to convince us that hydrogenation only changes the molecular structure of the fat, yet there is so much more to it.
"Observations on man and animals have shown that there are two or three unsaturated fatty acids which are essential. They are linoleic, linolenic and arachidonic acid, but since the latter two can be converted from the former in the body, it leaves linoleic acid as the essential one. . . . Highly saturated fats contain very little linoleic acid and it is possible that the hydrogenated cooking fats might contain little if any linoleic acid."
"Hydrogenated vegetable fats behaved like the animal fats. These fats were originally unsaturated, "essential" fats, but when hydrogenated they lost their unsaturated "essential" qualities. Accordingly the common solid cooking fats of vegetable origin [cooking oil, common margarine and almost every product boasting hardened or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil or fat as an ingredient] now so freely used . . . may actually be almost as detrimental to the welfare of our arteries as the animal fats. Alas, even the humble jar of peanut butter fits into this category! "Truly, God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions." - Ecclesiastes 7:29." (Dr L. & D. Rosenvold, Science and Modern Manna, pp. 24, 25, 30)

We conclude, therefore, that when we hydrogenate fats, we do not only change their molecular structure, but we change their entire character and we destroy essential nutrients.
"[Vitamins]... can be eliminated by such modern food processing as milling of grains, polishing of rice, and hydrogenation or chemical hardening of plant or animal fats." (Dr A. J. Carlson, How Bad is The American Diet, p. 53)
"The process of hydrogenation whereby oil is cooked at high temperatures under pressure in the presence of a catalyst and elemental hydrogen, results in saturations of the oil and the formation of unnatural isomeric forms. The vitamins and nutritional mineral factors are also destroyed in the process, and the resulting dark and smelly grease is bleached and deodorized to become a white, tasteless, synthetic fat that can be flavored, coloured and sold to imitate butter, or used for lard or other shortening or frying fat. It is my serious contention that hydrogenated fats are not one iota better or more beneficial or acceptable to the human body than mineral oil [motor oil]. Yes, I will go one step further and claim that mineral oil only prevents the absorption of nutrients, whereas hydrogenated fats do the same and besides create destruction." (J. H. Tobe, Margarine and Your Heart Attack, p. 9)
The average reader will be somewhat taken aback at the above disclosures. But may I in all sincerity appeal to you to use the acid test - try it out for yourself. Adopt the few simple substitutions that we suggest and find out for yourself that the above statements are true - and that those foods that have been so much a part of your life and mine, and for so long, are the very foods that are keeping us ill, obese, tired and unhappy. I have now pointed enough people along this pathway to be able to speak with absolute confidence. Having seen many people recover from many differing ailments after having dispensed with the use of these harmful products, I need no further proof to satisfy myself that these products have no place in the human system whatsoever.
May I once again remind the reader that in order to dispense with these harmful products, you do not have to deprive yourself of anything. Simply revert to using cold pressed oils that are also cold processed. Sure they are more expensive, but then how much will a heart attack or heart bypass surgery cost you?
Natural oils are distributed in South Africa by Nature's Choice.
Highly Recommended Reading

Please take note that the Natural Health Foundation does not derive any financial benefit from any publication that is recommended on this website.
Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill. Udo Erasmus BSc, MA, PhD. "There are good fats and bad fats. Some fats promote cancer, but others inhibit cancer. Some fats make stroke or heart attack more likely, and other fats make stroke or heart attack less likely. Some fats block insulin function, while others are necessary for insulin function. Bad fats damage cells, tissues, and organs, but other fats protect them." Find out from a scientific point of view why hydrogenated fats such as margarine and common cooking oils are extremely harmful to your health.
Alive Books, ISBN 0-920470-38-6