Margarine and shortening are both hydrogenated fats. Hydrogenation is the chemical process used to convert polyunsaturated fats, which are normally liquid (oil) at room temperature, into solids (margarine) at room temperature.
What is Margarine & How is it Made?
- The procedure begins with the cheapest oils i.e. soy, corn, cottonseed or canola oil which have been processed in the cheapest ways, therefore already rancid from conventional extraction processes
- A metal catalyst is added to the chosen oil to speed up the chemical reaction of hydrogenation; nickel oxide is usually used
- Hydrogen gas is then added to the oil and metal mixture in a high temperature and pressure reactor
- Next, to give the product a better consistency, soap-like emulsifiers and starch are added
- The mixture is then steam-cleaned to remove its horrible odor, being subjected again to high temperatures
- The goop is now an unappealing grey color, therefore it is then bleached
- Finally to make this product resemble butter, it is dyed and strong flavors are added
- Last, the margarine product is packaged into either tubs or blocks and sold as a fat-free health food
In case you have not read my “What are Healthy Fats” article, healthy oils are cold pressed, unrefined, organic and extra virgin. The margarine production process already starts with conventionally extracted, refined, rancid oils! Then these oils are further subjected to high temperatures, heat, metal catalysts, hydrogen, emulsifiers, starch, dyes, and added flavors. So what is margarine? It is definitely not a natural food.
The hydrogenation process causes the hydrogen atoms around double bonds to change position on the fatty acid chain of the oil, leading to the production of a trans-fat. Trans-fats are toxins to the body, but if you consume them the body has no choice to absorb them and incorporate them into the cells. With the consumption of hydrogenated oils and trans-fats your cell membranes become partially hydrogenated. Cell to cell communication and cell membrane permeability issues result from the incorporation of trans-fats in cell membranes.
Not only does margarine (hydrogenated fat) disturb the healthy function of our cell membranes, but it also blocks the utilization of healthy essential fatty acids. This blocking of healthy fat absorption and utilization can lead to sexual dysfunction, increase in blood cholesterol, immune issues, cancer, atherosclerosis, diabetes, obesity, decreased visual acuity, and problems with bones and tendons to name a few.
The fact that hydrogenated fats like margarine continue to be marketed and promoted as health foods is repulsive!
Please avoid margarine and instead use pasture raised, grass fed butter.
-Brenda Baran, NTP