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Ask Tufts Experts May 2016 Issue

Q. I have always avoided partially hydrogenated oils in foods. But I have heard that fully hydrogenated is OK, which I don’t understand. It seems that would be worse. Was I misinformed?

A. Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, director of Tufts' HNRCA Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory, explains: "Full hydrogenation of vegetable oil results in the formation of primarily stearic acid. Of all the saturated fatty acids, stearic acid is predicted to have the least effect on blood lipids because our bodies have the capacity to convert a fair amount of it to a monounsaturated fatty acid, oleic acid." So full hydrogenation is preferable to partial hydrogenation, which creates artificial trans fats that contribute to cardiovascular disease.

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