Biology and You

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Can one type of fat be changed into another type?

The process of hydrogenation can convert an unsaturated fatty acid into a hydrogenated fatty acid. This process, which is achieved by adding extra hydrogen atoms to unsatu-rated fat, has become both a bane and a blessing. Hydrogenation is the process that allows unsaturated vegetable oils to be turned into margarine. This method prevents oxidation, and thus rancidity, and has allowed for the development of foods with less animal and saturated fats. However, the consumption of hydrogenated fatty acids may be linked to increased risk of heart disease because the fats cause a change in the structure of targeted unsaturated fatty acids. The consumption of trans fats has been shown to slightly increase the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the blood.


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