Frequently Asked Questions

Why do some manufacturers claim on their packaging that a product is trans fat free or has zero grams of trans fat when partially hydrogenated oil is shown in the list of ingredients?

Under FDA regulations "if the serving contains less than 0.5 gram [of trans fat], the content, when declared, shall be expressed as zero." Click here for the source of the rule.

Suppose a product contains 0.4 grams per serving and you eat four servings (which is not uncommon). You have just consumed 1.6 grams of trans fat, despite the fact that the package claims that the product contains zero grams of trans fat per serving. It's a very bad rule that should be changed!

Is fully hydrogenated oil worse than partially hydrogenated oil?

No. In fact just the opposite is true. Fully hydrogenated oil does not contain trans fat! Partial hydrogenation is a process that rids an oil of its highly unsaturated fatty acid content and changes anywhere from 5-10 percent to 55 percent or more of the original fatty acids to trans fatty acids and a number of other unnatural fatty acids. Hydrogenation, when carried out in its totality, produces only saturated fatty acids; and a totally saturated oil has the consistency of a wax and is not appropriate for use in food except in very small amounts added with emulsifiers to food products such as peanut butter.

If a product label says that it contains "hydrogenated" oil without the word "partially" before it, does that mean it's OK?

The terms hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated are used interchangeably by some companies and by parts of the government writings, so be careful. We have found that many products labels that say "hydrogenated" without the word "partially before it really mean "partially hydrogenated."

If the word "fractionated" is in the ingredients, does that mean that the product contains trans fat?

No. There is a lot of misinformation about this on the Internet. Fractionating merely separates the hard and soft fractions of harder oils.

Does "hydrolised" mean hydrogenated?

No. Hydrolised refers to the hydrolysis of protein into peptides and some free amino acids.

Does "interesterified" mean hydrogenated?

Interesterification is one alternative to partially hydrogenated oils that can help reduce or eliminate trans fats while maintaining the taste, texture and flavor of manufactured foods. It is a process used to achieve specific melting profiles associated with various functional attributes and is generally achieved by blending fully hydrogenated oils (saturated fats) with un-hydrogenated oils (unsaturated oils). Because partial hydrogenation is not involved, trans fats are not created in the interesterification process.

If a product is "cholesterol free," does that mean it will not raise my bad cholesterol?

No. Cholesterol that affects our arteries comes from two sources: (i) animal products and (ii) bad fats. If the product itself contains no cholesterol but it does contain trans fat or saturated fat, it will raise your bad cholesterol.

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