List of Products Without Hydrogenated Oils: Cookies, Shortening & Other Non Hydrogenated Foods and Substitutions

Products without hydrogenated oils are getting easier to find as more and more food manufacturers eliminate trans-fat based oils from their ingredients. However, buying prepared foods and ingredients that are truly "zero trans fat" isn't as straightforward as the product labels would have you think. Zero trans fats does not translate to zero partially hydrogenated oils.

U.S. food packaging laws currently allow manufacturers such as Crisco to say their shortening has "zero trans fats", even though Crisco products are packed with fully and partially hydrogenated soybean and palm oils. That is going to change with the recent FDA decision on trans-fats, moving them into the category of not generally recognized as safe. The loophole that allows this wording on the package labels is the USDA requirement that the serving size must have less than 0.5 grams of hydrogenated oil. Some commercially available vegetable shortening, like Crisco's, meets that requirement.

The serving size, however, is just 1 tablespoon. Crisco's own double-crust pie recipe calls for 2/3 cups of shortening, or 10 2/3 servings. If you've ever managed to eat less than 1/10th of a regular sized apple pie at a time (not deep-dish), you've managed to eat "zero trans fats" as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture. Otherwise, you might want to look for alternatives to shortening that do not contain hydrogenated oils.

Here you will find:

  • list of substitutes for hydrogenated cooking oils, plus
  • list of packaged products that have no hydrogenated fats.

What Are Trans Fats?

A trans fat is made by adding hydrogen to a vegetable oil, such as soybean oil or coconut oil. Trans fats are put in edible products by food manufacturers to increase their shelf life and give them the mouth feel and taste of animal-based fats. Partiallty hydrogenated oils were once seen as an alternative to cholesterol; now they are thought to be worse than cholesterol, raising LDL cholesterol without adding any health benefit.

My Speculation

I suspect one reason trans fats are more dangerous than animal based cholesterol-containing fats is because they're not as satisfying. People eat greater quantities.

Trans Fat Free Doesn't Always Mean Cholesterol Free or Saturated Fat Free

Some of the products on this page contain no cholesterol and no saturated fats. However, some foods listed do contain saturated fats from:

  • animal sources like eggs and meat (in other words, they're not cholesterol-free), and/or
  • palm or coconut oils

Why are saturated fats still used in trans-fat free cooking and baking?

Besides the health benefits of cholesterol and even possible health benefits of tropical oils like coconut oil or palm oil, saturated fats produce textures and tastes that help make products like cookies, coffee creamer, pie crust, and doughnuts taste the way they do.

As a health-conscious mother and health-food afficionado for many years, I don't think the diet of your average healthy adult needs to be free of all saturated fats, and definitely not in the case of kids, as children need foods with cholesterol for brain growth.

However, some men and women are put on a cholesterol-restricted diet by a doctor and told to avoid all saturated fats. People with diabetes or at risk of heart attack or stroke may be among them. If your doctor has told you to restrict your saturated fat intake, then choose products made without hydrogenated oils, butter, lard or eggs - such as non-hydrogenated olive oil, nut oils and avocado oils.

If you are not on a mission to cut out cholesterol or saturated fats altogether from your diet, try to moderate cholesterol-containing snack foods to your own health needs. Choose non-hydrogenated products made with quality ingredients. For example, instead of shortening, use butter. But instead of regular butter, try butter from grass-fed cows, which contains healthy omega 3 fatty acids.

Cookies Without Hydrogenated Oils: Quadratini Wafer Cookies

I'd been looking for a chocolate-hazelnut taste like Nutella or Ferrero Rocher, but without the hydrogenated oil in the Nutella spread or all the sugar in the Ferrero Rocher candy. (Ferrero Rocher, by the way, doesn't have hydrogenated oils.) I found the Quadratini wafer cookies and almost got the Tiramisu flavor until I saw hazelnut - and I had to try them.

They're utterly delicious. A little dry - but then, I like dry sweets (witness my halvah addiction, and halvah most definitely does have hydrogenated oils). The wafer cookies are in perfect bite-size pieces. [Edit August 2010: I've now tried the Tiramisu and there's a sort of odd coconut flavor to it. I think I prefer the hazelnut.]

The ingredients in the hazelnut Quadratini are unbleached wheat flour, expeller pressed coconut oil, glucose syrup, sugar, hazelnuts, whey powder, soy flour, skimmed milk powder, cocoa, dexrose, barley malt extract, salt, leavening, emulsifier soy lecithin, and natural vanilla pods.

Loacker Quadratini Wafer Cookies: Hazelnut, Chocolate, Tiramisu & More

Loacker Quadratini Hazelnut Wafer Cookies, 8.82-Ounce Packages (Pack of 8)
Loacker Quadratini Hazelnut Wafer Cookies, 8.82-Ounce Packages (Pack of 8)

The Quadratini wafer cookies by Loaker are made in Italy and they're absolutely delicious. It was a bag of the Italian Quadratini hazelnut wafer cookies that I bought at the health food store that triggered the writing of this article. P.S. Since then, I have determined I'm allergic to hazelnut and pre-diabetic. So no more of these for me. :(

 

Non Hydrogenated Shortening, Margarine, Oil, and Lard

The best protection against hydrogenated oils is to make your own baked goods, salad dressings and fried foods. Try the following options for your cooking.

Shortening Substitutes (Crisco) - These are Saturated Fats

  • Vegetable shortening made with palm oil - cholesterol free
  • Expeller pressed coconut oil - cholesterol free (I buy both the Wilderness Family Naturals brand and the Tropical Traditions brand.)
  • Virgin coconut oil (sometimes marketed erroneously as "extra virgin") - cholesterol-free
  • Rendered duck fat or goose fat
  • Homemade lard (rendered fat back or bacon). It may be out of health fashion, but I'm not convinced lard is the enemy of health in all cases. Certainly nothing makes as flaky a pie crust as lard. Note that store-bought lard nearly always contains hydrogenated oils.

Salad Oils Without Hydrogenation, Cholesterol, or Saturated Fats

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Pumpkin Seed Oil
  • Avocado Oil

Non Hydrogenated Frying Oils Free of Cholesterol

  • Peanut oil (not a saturated fat)
  • Expeller pressed coconut oil (saturated fat)
  • High oleic sunflower oil

Shortening, Salad & Cooking Oils Without Hydrogenation

Spectrum Naturals Organic All Vegetable Shortening, 24 Ounce (Pack of 4)
Spectrum Naturals Organic All Vegetable Shortening, 24 Ounce (Pack of 4)

I use Spectrum Organic Shortening, which is palm oil, all the time in place of classic Crisco for recipes that need that "flaky crust" effect, such as pie and biscuit recipes. I also use it for frying.

 

Non Hydrogenated Coffee Creamer

Most powdered coffee creamers have hydrogenated oils, even though they're labeled as having "0 trans fats".

Liquid coffee creamer alternatives without trans fats include:

  • cream
  • half & half
  • milk
  • non dairy creamer (Silk soy creamer)
  • non dairy milk (almond or coconut milk)
  • evaporated milk

Coffee Creamer Without Hydrogenated Oils

Land O' Lakes Half & Half Mini Moo, 360-Count Single-Serve Packages
Land O' Lakes Half & Half Mini Moo, 360-Count Single-Serve Packages

The ingredients are half and half, sodium citrate, datem (an emulsifier), tetra sodium pyrophosphate, and carrageenan. There are no hydrogenated oils.

 

I haven't found a powdered coffee creamer without trans fats that's convenient to use when you don't have actual cream.  It would certainly be nice!  I have, however, found single-serving half-and-half packets that have no hydrogenation. The Land-o-Lakes Half & Half Mini Moo serving packages are similar to those half-and half packages you get in restaurants. They're a bit hard to find- they sell them in some stores and by mail order online, such as at Amazon.com, above. They're super convenient.

Taco Shells Without Trans Fat or Hydrogenation

Garden of Eatin' Yellow Corn Taco Shells, 12 Count (Pack of 12)
Garden of Eatin' Yellow Corn Taco Shells, 12 Count (Pack of 12)

I've eaten Garden of Eatin' taco shells, which are not made with hydrogenated oils,and found them very tasty. Like any store-bought taco shells, they benefit from a quick crisping in the oven before eating.

When I don't have any non hydrogenated taco shells, I've been known to fry my own corn tortillas in expeller pressed coconut oil (about 30 seconds on each side) and then fold them up when they're still warm. They're yummy, if not as crisp as store-bought.

 

Other Products

The short list above includes the foods I most look for when I go shopping but have a hard time finding at the local supermarket.  If there are other food products you'd like to see here that truly have no trans fats added by way of hydrogenated oils, leave a comment and I'll see if I can find them.

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