mperature. Partial hydrogenation does not make them fully solid. Full hydrogenation converts a liquid oil into a solid fat at room temperature.
Hydrogenated fats are oils that have been processed through a chemical hardening method to achieve increased plasticity (stiffness) of the liquid oils at room temperature. Partial hydrogenation (brush hydrogenation) hardens oils but does not make them fully solid. Full hydrogenation requires complete conversion of a liquid oil into a solid fat at room temperature.
Hydrogenated Fats and Oils
1. High heat
2. A metal catalyst such as nickel, zinc, copper, or other reactive metals
3. Hydrogen gas.
The metals are used to react with the hydrogen gas which is bubbled up through the mixture. The metals catalyze the hydrogen and carbon atoms and converts the fatty acids by flipping one of the attached hydrogen molecules and rotating it half the diameter of the carbon chain.
This effectively creates a new molecular shape resulting in a stiffer or more rigid material, hence the change from a liquid to a semi-solid or solid substance. This new shape stiffens with the hydrogenation process making the oil behave more like a saturated fat (such as coconut fat which is 92% saturation and solid at room temperature).
Trans fats are the result of this reaction.
Partial hydrogenation, or "brush hydrogenation" is a minimal conversion step which only offers a small degree of reaction by hydrogenation. Brush hydrogenation increases stability for volatile fatty acids like the omega 3 (alpha-linolenic) and omega 6 (linoleic) polyunsaturated oils. Most commercial salad dressing oils, such as soybean oil, have been brush hydrogenated.
Hydrogenation raises the melting point of the fat and retards rancidity. But as recent health studies have found other problems can ensue when consuming large amounts of trans fats from hydrogenated products.
Trans Fatty Acid
When converted, the cis-shape chemically alters to a trans configuration and hence is called a trans fat. Most margarine and vegetable shortening have been trans fat converted through full or partial hydrogenation process. Trans fats interfere with metabolic absorption efficiencies and tend to congregate at adipose tissue sites. They are difficult to excrete from the body and are a low quality energy source.
The above was excerpted and reprinted with permission from Spectrum Naturals, Inc. 1-707-778-8900
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