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Hydrogenated Soybean Oil

Leena Palande Mar 14, 2019
The chemical procedure of hydrogenation of oil helps eliminate the potential for rancidity. Here, we will explain what is hydrogenated soybean oil and whether it is bad for you.
Vegetable oils, like soybean and sunflower oil are liquid at room temperature. They contain unsaturated fats that are likely to turn rancid when exposed to air. Stale ones, therefore, have unpleasant odor and flavor.
Hydrogenation is a chemical process wherein the liquid is heated to high temperatures after adding a catalyst and hydrogen is forcefully passed through the liquid. Filtration at the end helps remove the catalyst, and you get hydrogenated soybean oil.
Hydrogenation gives a uniform product with required texture, as the fatty acids from the oil acquire some of the hydrogen and turn dense. It helps change the liquid into solid form (like margarine), which has longer shelf life.
If you stop in between the procedure of hydrogenation, you get a product that will have undergone partial hydrogenation. It has a consistency like butter. It comes in semi-solid form, and it's quite cheaper than butter. It is commonly used as 'butter substitute' in the food industry. It offers good flavor and texture.

Functions of Fats

Actually, fats in oils contain essential fatty acids, which are really essential for proper functioning of our body. They help enhance the function of brain and the nervous system. They regulate the functions of hormones and other intra-cellular messengers. They strengthen your immune system, endocrine system, in fact, every system of your body.
They improve your digestive health by blocking out allergens and by enhancing the process of absorption of nutrients. Not only nutrients, but they also help cells to absorb oxygen and help keep the toxins out of cells. Thus, they are helpful in several ways.


Until 1970, coconut oil was mostly used in all food products to get the required, rich, buttery flavor and texture. It is believed that the percentage of victims of obesity has increased significantly since it has been replaced by partially hydrogenated soybean oil.
During hydrogenation, healthy essential unsaturated fats from the oil get converted into harmful trans fats. Around the 1990s, researchers realized that what was introduced as healthier form of the oil, is actually harmful for our body.
As this oil has a higher melting point, it is added to pastry doughs, and it is also used for frying. More solid the product, more hydrogenated it is. Trans fats are responsible for a fall in good cholesterol levels (HDL) and a rise in bad cholesterol levels (LDL).
This can lead to devastating effects on body, such has increased risk of heart diseases, stroke, etc. Trans fatty acids can cause obesity, coronary diseases, neural degeneration, diminished mental performance, diabetes, etc.

Effects of TBHQ

TBHQ, Tertiary Butylhydroquinone, is a preservative that is added to this product. It is an antioxidant that is commonly used in various popular food items sold by popular food chains or manufactured by the food industry. It especially prevents the oil from turning rancid and reduces nutritional loss, as it offers an extended shelf life.
Excessive consumption of TBHQ can lead to mild to severe side effects, like nausea, vomiting, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), delirium, and heart failure. Lab experiments performed on animals showed that DNA damage in animals or development of cancerous precursors in the stomach of the animals were due to long term exposure to high doses of TBHQ.
Toxicity caused by TBHQ is very rare in human beings, as a very small amount of TBHQ is added to the oil. FDA has set standards for use of TBHQ in food.
Saturated fat is bad for the body, but the trans fat from the partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is even more harmful. Saturated fats contain very low amount of the polyunsaturated fats that offer the essential fatty acids you need. So, you have to consume more fat to obtain the essential quantity of essential fatty acids required by the body.
This causes obesity and the related diseases. Moreover, soybean oil suppresses the function of thyroid gland and slows down your metabolism, which makes you still fatter. Fish, egg yolks, nuts, olive oil, canola oil, avocados, etc. offer healthy fats.
One should limit the consumption of soybean oil that is partially or completely hydrogenated. Trans fats should not be ingested in high amounts, instead, one should opt for healthy oils. The hydrogenated ones work as silent killers.
Tran fats work like poison, and our body cannot protect itself from them. Their long term effects are now visible, and therefore, the scientists are warning against their excessive use.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.