Q: Is it true that fully hydrogenated vegetable oil is better for you than partially hydrogenated? —J.A., Dearborn, Mich.
A: Yes, but that doesn't mean that it's good for you. Hydrogenation is a chemical process that converts liquid vegetable oil into solid fat. Partially hydrogenated oils, such as shortening and soft margarine, are semi-soft. Oils that are fully hydrogenated are firmer, and don't contain any of the dangerous artery-inflaming trans fat found in partially hydrogenated oils. But they do harbor some saturated fat in the form of stearic acid, which is created during the hydrogenation process. Both trans fats and saturated fats contribute to your risk of heart disease.
So it's best to avoid hydrogenated oils in general, especially since they tend to show up in high-fat dishes that aren't that good for you anyway, such as fried food, fast food, and processed baked goods.