The “Tips for Healthy Aging” article in this month’s Brinson Wellness Newsletter suggests avoiding hydrogenated vegetable oils.  To help understand the reason why this suggestion is advisable for our health, we need to review the process of ‘hydrogenation’.

The ‘hydrogenation’ of vegetable oils is a chemical process of adding hydrogen to oils intended to change the cooking properties and prevent rapid spoilage.  Adding hydrogen or ‘saturating the chemical bonds’ in a vegetable oil, results in converting oil from liquid to solid (or semi-solid) fat (similar to what is found in stick margarine).

Trans fatty acids are produced in the hydrogenation process.  Trans fats are an unusual configuration of the fat molecule that do not metabolize well in the body. This can cause detrimental effects such as elevated triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood.  The change ‘hardens’ the fat so baked products have a ‘more crispy’ crust, and will last longer on the shelf.  Unfortunately, this type of fat, as a part of our diet, increases our risk for heart disease as well as many other health issues.

The Mayo Clinic [JR1] suggests that consuming trans fats can not only increase the lipids, but can also increase inflammation – which is strongly associated with circulatory and heart disease. (  Although using the type of modified fat improves the profit margins, there is an unhealthy impact.

So, remember to read the nutritional label when purchasing food, and avoid foods that include hydrogenated vegetable oils as an ingredient.  Instead, focus on consuming more fish, flax seeds and nut oils.