Dr. Robert Cook - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Robert Cook

Are Partially Hydrogenated Oils Bad For You?



Short answer

Yes, partially hydrogenated oils are bad for you. They are heavily used in food processing and are large contributors to heart disease and other fatal illnesses.



Long answer

Partially hydrogenated oils are a trans-fat, created by adding hydrogens to liquid vegetable oils in order to make them more solid. Ironically, partially hydrogenated oils are actually more dangerous to the body than fully hydrogenated oils.

Some natural trans-fats are found in animal products like meat and dairy. Trans-fats occur as a natural by-product in the gut of some grazing animals. The naturally occurring trans-fats are not as bad for you as the chemically produced partially hydrogenated oils are. Trans-fats are widely used because they provide additional flavor to foods, improve the texture, are inexpensive, and they have a long “shelf-life”. They are frequently used to deep-fry foods because oils made from trans-fats can be used in a fryer numerous times which helps save cost.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), partially hydrogenated oils are not ‘generally recognized as safe’ (GRAS) in human food. Consequently, they require food manufacturers to list the amount of trans-fats per serving on food labels. However, there is one way that food companies can get around these labeling requirements. The law only requires that they report trans-fat if it equals more than .5 grams, per serving. If the manufacturers slightly lower the serving size, they do not have to report the trans-fat in the item and can actually falsely label it as trans-fat free. The best way a consumer can find out if there are any hydrogenated oils or partially hydrogenated oils is by reading the label of ingredients.

Partially hydrogenated oils are bad for you because they increase your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), known as the bad cholesterol and decrease your high-density lipoprotein (HDL), known as the good cholesterol. Having high LDL cholesterol increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Conversely, having high levels of HDL cholesterol decreases the threat of cardiovascular disease. Ideally, a healthy person would have high levels HDL cholesterol and low levels and LDL cholesterol. On the contrary, excessively processed products reverse this ideal process, which is the reason why cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Excessive consumption of trans-fats can cause insulin instability and contribute to obesity, leading to a high risk of type II diabetes.

Partially hydrogenated oils increase inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation is a foundational source of numerous acute and chronic illnesses, including digestive disorders, arthritis, cancers, and an increased risk of heart disease.

Though it is best to avoid trans-fats as much as possible—the American Heart Association advises that you limit your trans-fat consumption to less than 1% of your daily caloric intake.  This can be a difficult feat when you start looking at labels and learn what a large amount of trans-fat you may already be consuming in a day.


Possible short-term side effects

  • inflammation
  • bodily pain
  • digestive discomfort

Possible long-term side effects

  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • diabetes ii
  • inflammation
  • cancer
  • arthritis
  • digestive disorders

Commonly found in

  • crackers
  • cooking oils
  • margarine
  • chewy granola bars
  • processed baked goods
  • cereals
  • fried foods
  • frozen pizza


  • inexpensive processing
  • improves texture
  • improves flavor
  • long shelf life

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by DeeAnne Oldham
Published on: 07-03-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by DeeAnne Oldham
Published on: 07-03-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

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