Ever wonder how we take plants from nature and turn them into a liquid or solid state fat? It takes about 17 steps to turn seeds into oil. Hydrogenation is the process that turns polyunsaturated fats - which are normally liquid – into a solid at room temperature. Here’s how they’re made. 

Genetically modified seed oils, like soybean, canola and cottonseed are pressed using a solvent like hexane to extract the oil from the seed. They then undergo caustic refining, bleaching, degumming and deodorizing, all of which under extremely high temperatures. This creates a highly unstable product that oxidizes easily. Then when you heat them to cook with they degrade even further into hundreds of oxidation products in the body. This creates free radical damage. They’re not nutrient-dense, contain no vitamin A or E and further oxidize by heat, light and air. 

Now, to make a hydrogenated oil, they take the seed oils and mix it with a metal particle – usually nickel oxide. It’s then mixed in a machine with hydrogen gas. And they are yet again subjected to high temperatures to remove unpleasant odors. Dyes and flavors are added to make it look like butter. This is why you want to avoid spreads in plastic tubs and containers. There is strong evidence linking trans-fats to cancer. So make sure you read the ingredient labels of your oils and fats and avoid those with partially hydrogenated oils. Even if the marketing on the package says “0 trans-fats,” check the ingredient label. Because of a labeling loophole, manufacturers can claim zero trans fats if a serving contains less than one gram of trans-fats. However, a serving is usually 1/12 of the box and we typically eat more than 1/12 of a serving. 

The smoke point of a fat is moot. A higher smoke point is only valid IF the fat is stable to begin with. While soybean oil may have a smoke point of 495°, it’s 58 percent polyunsaturated and goes through the above refining process making it a highly unstable, oxidized fat. Grapeseed has a smoke point of 420° and is 71 percent polyunsaturated making it another poor choice. 

Pasture-raised lard is mostly a monounsaturated fat with a smoke point of 375° and has 1000 iu’s of Vitamin D per tablespoon. 

Cook your holiday meals, pies and treats with real, organic butter, ghee, pasture-raised lard, sustainable palm fruit oil or even a high-quality olive oil. The least amount of processing and heating will yield a healthier fat necessary for brain function, proper hormones and cell integrity.

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