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What happens when you partially hydrogenate a saturated fat?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 20, 2013 at 3:57 AM

A bit of a chemistry question here, I was reading some labels on a "reese's minis" out of curiosity and at the end it listed less than 2% of: partially hydrogenated (palm, palm kernel oils)... and I've seen PH coconut oil in coffee creamers for whatever reason.

Since palm and coconut oils are saturated, what happens when you inject hydrogen into them? I assume it's not as horrendous as doing it to PUFA, but I'm really curious as to what happens. I mean it can't be good obviously, but I'm just curious about the chemistry.

Thanks in advance!

68655ec9711d207d69a63ebf96b37573

on February 24, 2013
at 01:02 PM

Yes, it can do and does. Unfortunately it can also turn them into trans MUFA. Which are not so good.

De267f213b375efca5da07890e5efc25

(3747)

on February 20, 2013
at 04:58 PM

couldn't hydrogenating turn PUFAs into MUFAs then? that doesn't sound so bad. of course, there's bound to be remnants of the catalyst along with trace quantities of other junk from reactions with other things in the oil.

68655ec9711d207d69a63ebf96b37573

on February 20, 2013
at 01:58 PM

ack. My diagram didn't come out right :( Very simple image here - http://www.optimal-heart-health.com/images/Hydrogenation.jpg

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2 Answers

5
A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on February 20, 2013
at 04:07 AM

Coconut oil and palm oil are not 100% saturated (palm oil definitely isn't). Coconut oil has about 3% unsaturated fats. Palm oil is like 40% monounsaturated and 10% polyunsaturated, if I remember correctly. Those are the fats being hydrogenated. You can't hydrogenate saturated fats unless you're doing something crazy like, I dunno, reducing them to alcohols or something.

4
68655ec9711d207d69a63ebf96b37573

on February 20, 2013
at 01:57 PM

You cannot hydrogenate a fully saturated fat. The H2 molecule is added across a C=C bond (Carbon-carbon-double bond) like this -

H H H / H-H / / R-C=C-R --------> R-C-C-R / catalyst / / H H H

Monounsatured fats have one C=C bond, polyunsatured fats have more than one, and sometimes not all of them are converted to C-C single bonds, hence why you often see 'partially hydrogenated soy/corn/canola oil as an ingredient.

As MScott says it's the mono and poly unsaturated fats that are becoming hydrogenated, but not fully.

De267f213b375efca5da07890e5efc25

(3747)

on February 20, 2013
at 04:58 PM

couldn't hydrogenating turn PUFAs into MUFAs then? that doesn't sound so bad. of course, there's bound to be remnants of the catalyst along with trace quantities of other junk from reactions with other things in the oil.

68655ec9711d207d69a63ebf96b37573

on February 20, 2013
at 01:58 PM

ack. My diagram didn't come out right :( Very simple image here - http://www.optimal-heart-health.com/images/Hydrogenation.jpg

68655ec9711d207d69a63ebf96b37573

on February 24, 2013
at 01:02 PM

Yes, it can do and does. Unfortunately it can also turn them into trans MUFA. Which are not so good.

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