OK health nuts...here's my fourth and final installment on hydrogenated oils. I'll move on to other interesting topics now. We cook a lot with coconut oil (stored in a jar in the fridge as a solid), and butter. Read on to learn more about what to eat and what NOT to eat!
Fortunately, this information is beginning to penetrate the public consciousness. Recently, a news special covered the subject. The reporter got some of the details wrong, but the general message was right on the money. And the one surprising tidbit of information in the report was the fact that most of the deep-fried foods served in fast food joints are fried in partially hydrogenated oils!
Now, deep frying all by itself is pretty bad. After all, you are applying a lot of heat. But if that heat is applied to a saturated fat, there is a limit to how much harm it can do. A saturated fat doesn't have a "business end". There is no part of it that is chemically active. It's inert. Your body can burn it for fuel, but it can't use it to carry out any of your metabolic processes.
A saturated fat is inert, so it can't be hurt much by heat. However, it's not all that good for you, but it's not terrible either. So if you're going to fry, fry in a fully saturated fat like lard, or coconut oil. Or, use butter, which consists mostly of short-chain saturated fats that are easily burned for fuel, plus conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which improves health (Bruce Fife, Detox, 68). And butter tastes great. It's so good, in fact, that you don't even need to use very much to get a lot of flavor. So at home you can fry with butter to get gourmet-quality food that is also healthy.
Even better, you could fry with coconut oil -- which consists of medium chain fatty acids that contain 2/3's the calories of long-chain saturated fats. They're also metabolized differently, so they're burned for energy instead of being stored as fat. And if that's not enough, 50% of coconut oil consists of lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid that's anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungus, and anti-yeast. (For more information, see Coconut Oil and Palm Kernel Oil: Miracle Medicine and Diet Pill.)
For commercial deep frying, though, butter is prohibitively expensive. Things were better when foods were fried in beef tallow and coconut oil, because they had a lot of flavor and the saturated fats aren't harmed by the heat. But all that saturated fat sounds bad, so restaurants switched to partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. One "healthy" Mexican restaurant even advertised that they fried in vegetable oil. That would be somewhat better than partially hydrogenated oil -- assuming that they weren't using partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in the first place -- but subjecting the unsaturated fatty acids contained in a vegetable oil to the high heat of a deep frying vat is deadly, especially when the oil is used and reused all day long. The result would be the same kind of trans fats that you get in the hydrogenation process!
But the absolute worst commercial frying is done by the fast-food chains, who almost uniformly do their deep frying in cheap, deadly partially hydrogenated oil. Any fats that escaped being transmogrified in the hydrogenation process are now subjected to the deep frying process. It's a miracle that any of the unsaturated fats escape being transmogrified, if any of them do.