Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oil

Difference Between Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oil

Definition of Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oil

Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils are forms of processed fats that have undergone the chemical process known as hydrogenation.

Hydrogenation is the process of adding hydrogen atoms into unsaturated fat acids to increase their saturation levels, usually to enhance quality and extend the shelf life of oils produced from food production processes. Once fully hydrogenated oil has reached room temperature it has an extremely high melting point which may make storage simpler.

Partially hydrogenated oils result from hydrogenation processes that do not complete properly, producing semi-solid oils at room temperatures. Partial hydrogenation can produce trans fats which have been associated with a higher risk for heart disease; usage has since significantly declined as more consumers recognize these detrimental health consequences and avoid partially hydrogenated products altogether.

What is Hydrogenation?

Hydrogenation, or hydrogen addition to unsaturated fat acids found in vegetable oils, involves injecting hydrogen at high pressure via catalysts into unsaturated fatty acids that have unsaturated chains such as those present in vegetable oils.

Heating oils is often necessary before applying hydrogen gas through these catalysts that alter its chemical makeup; ultimately this leads to solid or semi-solid oils being created that have longer shelf lives and thus transform vegetable oils that were once liquid into more durable, shelf-stable substances.

Figure 01: Hydrogenation

Hydrogenation processes convert unsaturated fat acids found in oil into more stable saturated fatty acids that last longer before breaking down but may produce trans fats which have been linked with cardiovascular illnesses and should therefore be avoided wherever possible. Full hydrogenated oils typically do not contain trans fats while partially hydrogenated ones may contain various levels depending on their level of hydrogenation.

What is Partially Hydrogenation?

Partial hydrogenation involves producing oils using an identical process to full hydrogenation; however, partial hydrogenation stops short before all unsaturated fatty acids have become saturated with hydrogen, creating semi-solid consistency oil at room temperature with partially saturated unsaturated fatty acids; leading to trans fats production associated with cardiovascular disease risk and other forms of illness.

Partially Hydrogenation
Figure 02: Partially Hydrogenation

Partially hydrogenated oils were once widely utilized by food industries for improving the texture, flavor, and shelf life of processed foods. But due to the health effects associated with trans fats, their usage has drastically declined in recent years; regulations in some countries now mandate food companies label the trans fat content in their products while some even prohibit partially hydrogenated oil altogether.

Difference Between Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oil

1. Health Effects of Hydrogenated Oils

Hydrogenated oils contain trans fats that have been associated with numerous adverse health outcomes. Trans fats may even pose greater health hazards than other forms of fat by simultaneously raising LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels while simultaneously decreasing HDL (“good” cholesterol) ones in the bloodstream.

Studies have demonstrated the correlation between eating hydrogenated oils and trans fats and an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes; and their consumption and inflammation within the body – contributing factors of chronic diseases like cardiovascular issues or type 2 diabetes.

Due to their negative health impacts, health organizations often suggest restricting or forgoing consumption altogether of hydrogenated oils. Some countries have implemented regulations restricting hydrogenated oil use in processed food items and some manufacturers have even removed hydrogenated oils voluntarily from their offerings.

2. Health Effects of Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Partially hydrogenated oils contain trans fats that are detrimental to human health and have been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Trans fats increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol while simultaneously decreasing HDL (“good” cholesterol), leading to overall an increase in risk associated with cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks or stroke.

Studies have also indicated that eating partially hydrogenated oils and trans fats can increase inflammation within the body, potentially contributing to chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Due to their detrimental health impacts, partially hydrogenated oils have seen a significant decrease in usage over the years. Some countries now mandate food manufacturers label trans fat content when creating new products while some have banned partially hydrogenated oils altogether. Many health organizations recommend restricting or eliminating the consumption of partially hydrogenated oils and other sources of trans fats altogether for optimal heart and overall health benefits.

3. How to Identify Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Identification of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils that you find in food items that you purchase may be challenging as food companies aren’t usually required to declare them as such. Some nations, however, require producers to disclose trans fat levels on nutrition labels – an indicator of partially or fully hydrogenated oils being present.

Food items with significant trans fat contents are likely to include hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils; those which claim they’re “trans-fat free” could contain small quantities due to labeling rules allowing products with trans fat levels under 0.5 grams per portion to be labeled as being trans-fat-free.

Customers looking at nutrition labels to detect trans fats may also use keywords like “hydrogenated” and “partially hydrogenated” as indicators that the product contains trans fats; fully hydrogenated oils will never contain them.

4. Alternatives to Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils

  • Palm oil: Palm oil is a semi-solid fat often used as an alternative to partially hydrogenated oils in food manufacturing, yet the production of this semi-solid substance has been linked with deforestation and habitat destruction, so only sustainable palm oils must be purchased.
  • Butter: Butter offers an all-natural and delectable alternative to hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils. While butter may contain saturated fats in high quantities, it provides vitamin A which contributes towards overall good health if enjoyed as part of a balanced diet.
  • Coconut Oil: Because its source of saturated fatty acids makes it a suitable replacement to hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, coconut oil has quickly gained in popularity as an alternative option; studies indicate its health advantages including helping improve cholesterol levels while supporting brain health.
  • Margarine made without hydrogenation: Some kinds of margarine produced without hydrogenation contain no trans fats; look for margarine made with liquid vegetable oils instead of partially hydrogenated oils as these varieties.

Home chefs should opt for liquid vegetable oils or natural fats like butter when making meals at home; when purchasing processed foods, look out for items without hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, or with low levels of trans fats.


Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oil contain refined fats with potential health ramifications, particularly trans fats which could increase the risk for heart diseases, strokes, and type 2 diabetes as well as cause inflammation throughout the body.

Reduce or avoid taking partially and hydrogenated oils altogether and opt for healthier options such as liquid vegetable oils with organic fats such as butter or margarine that isn’t hydrogenated.

Reading nutrition labels and ingredient lists could assist shoppers in recognizing items with trans fats, helping them make informed choices regarding what foods to eat. Even small changes could make an enormous impactful statement about our overall health and well-being.