Last weekend, my friend and I went to Wegmans, planning to buy pie crust to make our very own apple pie. Being the health nut I am, I picked up the box to read the label and the second ingredient was partially hydrogenated lard…what?
The question remains: What does the word hydrogenated even mean? Many people don’t know, and that’s why they see it on nutrition labels and think nothing of it.
You may see a product that is ‘low fat’ or ‘low sugar’ but in reality the hydrogenated oils snuck into our foods add much worse fat, meaning high fat. This is scary.
Hydrogenated fats are the unhealthiest in existence, actually. The caloric value of fat is the same regardless of the form, but the type of fat makes all the difference with how your body is affected.
So now for the definition: hydrogenated fat is vegetable oil blasted with hydrogen so that it behaves like a saturated fat (unhealthy fats that clog your arteries). Hydrogenation makes the fat harder, which is why it binds to your artery walls, and increases your blood thickness, forcing your heart to work harder to push the blood through your body. Consuming high amounts of hydrogenated oils (or processed foods) may lead to heart disease.
The solidity of hydrogenated fats helps preserve the structure of foods (they are often used as preservatives), whereas healthier oils and fats don’t hold up as well. Found in margarines, biscuits, cakes, frozen meals, fried foods and even some dairy products, they like to lurk in many processed foods.
For the record, my friend and I ended up buying an organic crust with no artificial ingredients or hydrogenated fats. And yes, our pie still tasted just as delicious even without the hydrogenated lard. So this should teach a lesson to read your labels and think about what you’re putting into your body and how it may affect you later in life. Consider this your warning to be careful out there!
By Sarah Richheimer