Frying, Frying oil and Trans Fat

No to shortenings and foods fried in them!

This is the kind of stuff that most restaurants will use to fry their food (unless stated otherwise). Creamy shortening made from soybean oil and hydrogenated soybean oil.

We all know that fried foods are bad for us. Generally, I recommend only eating fried foods on rare occasions. They are an awful combination of refined carbohydrates, oxidized oils, trans fats and other chemicals. Most of these are a result of heating the oil to high temperatures.

Polyunsaturated fats like soybean, sunflower, safflower and canola should never be heated to high temperatures (over 400 degrees F) but are often used for frying in many restaurants. What’s worse is that when you buy anything fried, you will most likely not know what type of oil it was used to fry it. Most likely, an oil like this creamy shortening was used.

The oil in this picture is bad because it has soybean mixed with hydrogenated soybean oil (presumably to help with the oil stability). It likely contains trans-fatty acids, toxic fats that used to be everywhere. Partially-hydrogenated oils are no longer allowed for use in food because of the large amounts of trans fat they contain. This shortening is hydrogenated with the intent of reducing the trans fat content, but it still contains some trans fat. Don’t buy this stuff, avoid fried foods and if you must eat them, seek out ones fried in stable fats like lard, tallow, coconut, duck fat or ghee.

How do I know all this? I’m a food scientist who worked for 17 years in the food industry, part of which was at a large vegetable oil company. Have any questions about the food you eat? Send them to me! I’d love to help you out and chat about all the fun and weird stuff found on store shelves.

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