Hydrogenated Oils or Trans Fats are probably the most harmful fat you can consume.
They not only increase the "bad" cholesterol but they also decrease the "good" one. In addition, this artificial ingredient increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cancer.
Your body does not recognize these fats as artificial so it processes them as it would process natural fats. This artificial fat becomes part of your membranes, making your cells weaker. Also, this fat is stored for later use as energy (your body does this with natural fats); however, the body is not able to retrieve it easily, as it should, causing weight gain.
They are made from natural oils such as olive oil, canola oil, or corn oil. Now, as I'm sure you know, these oils are liquid at room temperature, so manufacturers process these oils to make them solid (or semi-solid) to give their products the right consistency.
This process of making these oils solid includes taking them to extremely high temperatures in order to separate the fat, then, hydrogen atoms are added through the hydrogenation process which exposes the fat to elements such as nickel, palladium, or platinum. These are all types of metals. This process results in what we commonly know as Trans Fats (or hydrogenated oils). This is a very cheap way for manufacturers to obtain the desired texture on a product, it also helps to increase shelf life and stability of foods.
So, what should you avoid at the supermarket? Unfortunately a lot of everyday use items contain this ingredient. Some of these items are: muffins, cookies, doughnuts, and margarine. Another tip to remember is that, as I mentioned on the previous "Food Labels" post, if a package advertises "0 trans fats" it does NOT mean it doesn't have trans fats. The FDA allows this banner on products containing 0.5 grams or less of trans fats per serving. Some manufacturers, instead of reducing the amount of trans fats, reduce the serving size! You end up eating much more than one serving, the more you eat, the more the trans fats add up.
And remember, always read your label and choose wisely!
-Eating Clean for Dummies by Wright Larsen