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What is Hydrogenated Lard and Partially Hydrogenated Lard?

Lard has been widely replaced by products considered healthier.
Both forms of commercial lard are infused with hydrogen.
All forms of lard are pig fat.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 26 July 2014
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Some people wonder about the differences between hydrogenated lard and partially hydrogenated lard. Used in both prepackaged foods and in many restaurants around the world, these two examples of lard products continue to be utilized in the preparation of many time-honored recipes, despite the availability of products considered to be healthier for human consumption. While the basic substance of both types of lard is all the same, there are some key differences in the composition of hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated versions.

Lard in all forms is simply pig fat. For centuries, lard was the cooking fat of choice for many different types of cuisine. In some instances, lard was also served and used as a topping for hot sections of bread, in a manner very similar to butter or margarine. During the 20th century, the use of lard began to decrease as scientific research uncovered the health risks associated with the consumption of saturated fats such as lard products. However, the rich flavor that lard often brings to a recipe continues to make it the cooking fat of choice for many people in different cultures.

Today, lard is usually made available as both partially hydrogenated and hydrogenated products. Both types of lard have been infused with hydrogen. The key difference has to do with the amount of hydrogen that is added to the pig fat. Depending on the amount of hydrogen that is introduced into the lard, the consistency and appearance of the lard will be impacted.

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With partially hydrogenated lard, the pig fat only achieves a degree of firmness that provides a texture that is somewhat like whipped shortening. This makes the use of this type of lard in packaged foods a relatively easy process. For a number of years, there was some thought that since partially hydrogenated lard is less saturated, it was less of a health risk. Currently, many healthcare professionals think otherwise.

Hydrogenated lard contains more hydrogen and other chemicals, and often has an appearance that is solid. This type of lard is often sold in units that somewhat resemble a masonry brick, and are intended to be cut into sections in a manner similar to cutting a pat of butter. Hydrogenated lard is also used in processed foods, but is mainly utilized by chefs when preparing meals from scratch.

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Discuss this Article

anon269226
Post 11

I found a supermarket variety of lard that, although in the form of a white brick, does not contain hydrogenated fats. I'm very lucky!

anon238955
Post 10

There is a tremendous amount of research available regarding saturated fats. The latest thinking is that saturated fats are actually not harmful to your health as long as they are not trans fats. There are many books on this subject that outline this research. I say get out there educate yourself and start questioning conventional wisdom.

What is common knowledge now is under a lot of scrutiny and I believe the common knowledge regarding nutrition is in the first stages of passing away, so to speak. Twenty years from now, I think a more traditional diet based on meats, lots of healthy fats and vegetables will be considered very healthy. A diet based on low fat and grains will be considered the bad old way of thinking. This tide is already starting to turn in parts of Europe and in North America, as well. People are not only normalizing weight, but also getting rid of scores of health problems on these diets.

I would say do some real research before you simply say that the human body can't handle saturated fats. Oh, how unbelievably wrong that is.

anon135401
Post 9

Your not knowing that lard is pig fat is very disturbing.

anon99278
Post 8

The purpose of hydrogenating oils is to change the degree of saturation which changes the melting point and viscosity. Unsaturated portions of a fatty acid are where double bonds are located. This is termed unsaturated because every place a double bond occurs has two less hydrogens than a place that has a single bond.

This has a big advantage for vegetable fats where you can use a press and get out a liquid which is easy to move and process and then hydrogenate it to make "cakes" that are the right consistency (margarine and shortening). I think they mix in hydrogenated lard to make it harder to melt which is handy for hotter climates.

Most unsaturated fats come in two varieties (called isomers): cis and trans. The type of isomer is important for biological processes because enzymes and channels are shaped dependent and trying to fit a trans fat into an enzyme designed for cis fat is like trying to put a right boot on a left foot. Most biological organisms can only cope with the cis isomers which is why trans fats clog your arteries.

Industrial processes are blind to which isomer they make, so when you reduce the amount of saturation industrially there's a chance for producing trans fats depending on how far apart the double bonds are. If the double bonds were right next to each other the chance for cis and trans would be 50/50.

Most biological poly-unsaturated fatty acids are conjugated which means that they alternate double-single-double. This lowers the chance of getting trans fats some, but you'll still get a substantial amount.

If you completely saturate the oils then there aren't any trans fats because there aren't any double bonds left. Since there's only one isomer of this type for saturated fats you don't have the issue with them not fitting the enzymes and channels.

However, humans aren't equipped to deal with large amounts of saturated fats, so you want to use animal fats in moderation since they contain high amounts of saturated fats. This is why people used to think margarine was better for you than butter (not the case!) because it had less saturated fats.

Don't trust labels that say "0g trans fats" because this is per serving and serving sizes are typically low or the amount of shortening used in a product. Check the ingredients for "partially hydrogenated" oil. Any amount is likely to be bad for you due to the way our bodies handle fats. Fully hydrogenated oils are chemically and biologically the same as any saturated fats and are therefore not as toxic as trans fats.

anon79674
Post 7

Companies can say "0g Trans Fat" or "No trans fat" as long as there is less than 0.5g per serving of it. A serving of lard is not very big, and may be the maximum before having to say so.

anon77443
Post 6

The lard brick I bought from the grocery which contains lard and partially hydrogenated lard, says 0g trans fats on the nutrition label. How can this be?

anon73127
Post 5

According to the Harvard Public Health Review ("HPHR"), partially hydrogenated oils contain trans fatty acids (trans fats), which increase the likelihood of heart disease. Interestingly, according to HPHR, when oil is fully hydrogenated, trans fats are not present in the oil. Thus, partially hydrogenated products will really harm your health, but fully hydrogenated oils do not contain trans fats.

Regretfully, the article did not contain a discussion of partially or fully hydrogenated lard.

However, in a scientific paper on another web site, the authors did confirm that partially hydrogenated lard contains significant amounts of trans fat. Thus, the writing on the wall is: Avoid partially hydrated vegetable oil and partially hydrated lard.

Kind regards, One Worthy Fellow

anon55944
Post 4

Any food that is hydrogenated is an extremely bad choice, because when it is eaten it causes the pores on the surface of your cells to be blocked and hardened, causing vital nutrients needed to be unprocessed.

Which could cause inflammation and cell death. And ultimately speed up the aging process, not to mention poor heart and circulation in the body. If you are a true vegetarian, lard in any form is a bad choice.

anon17649
Post 3

It seems oxymoronic to [partially] hydrogenate a saturated fat, unless it is to make the lard spoilage-proof at room temperature. Yet, does [partially] hydrogenated lard contain toxic trans fatty acids?

mdt
Post 2

I've heard vegetable shortening referred to as "vegetable lard" before. But I am not aware of any true lard product that does not contain some type of animal product.

anon17094
Post 1

Is all lard made from pig fat? As a vegetarian this very disturbing.

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