The Difference Between Hydrogenated vs. Partially Hydrogenated Fats

Denice Moffat

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Hydrogenated and Partially hydrogenated are not the same. Vegetable shortening is an example of hydrogenated oil and is composed of severely whipped palm oil that puts lots of oxygen into the oil which then binds to the hydrogen within the oil making the product stiff. This is not good because our membranes work best with fluidy types of fats. The stiffness of the fat slows the membrane communication between cells.

When you have too many hydrogenated fats in your diet, symptoms of pain and stiffness are accentuated. Olive oil is an example of unsaturated fat so it is in liquid form. The thinner the oil and less hydrogenated, the better the cell-to-cell communication and the transport of nutrients both in and out of the cell membrane. The more hydrogenated the fat, the more chemical bonds that are “trans” in nature. These trans fats create the most havoc in our body.

Partially hydrogenated fat is man-made, partially whipped polyunsaturated fat. The hydrogen bonds are increased with the whipping process. An example would be margarine. Margarine is made with oil that is thinner than the oils used to make shortening. The benefit to the producer that hydrogenates or partially hydrogenates is that their product will have a longer shelf life because the fats do not turn rancid as quickly.

The body, however, doesn’t really know what to do with these fats. It knows it needs both unsaturated and saturated fats for the maintenance of the cell membranes and the tissue that makes up the brain and nervous system, but if we don’t give our body the correct dosages of each type of fat, just like when you give your body cheap supplements that have some possible harmful fillers or contaminants in them, the body uses what it can get. So, it will take the hydrogenated fats and do the best it can with it.

Natural saturated fats are like beef fat, milk fat, chicken fat and fish fat. Beef and diary are more saturated than chicken and poultry which is more saturated than fish oils and fish fats. I don’t think that these naturally saturated fats contain trans fats unless they are cooked at too high a temperature. Of course when this happens, the cooking creates free radicals (like in char broiling and grilling). That’s a different problem all together.

Dr. Denice Moffat is a practicing naturopath, medical intuitive, and veterinarian working on the family unit (which includes humans and animals) through her phone consultation practice established in 1995. She has a content-rich website at and free internationally distributed monthly newsletter. For more articles on Diet and Nutrition, go to:


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