Hydrogenated fats raise cholesterol levels, contributing to higher low-density lipoprotein, or "bad" cholesterol, while lowering high-density lipoprotein, or "good" cholesterol, according to WebMD. Higher cholesterol levels are directly associated with clogged arteries, the primary sign of heart disease. Heart disease increases the risk of heart attack or stroke.
In the Nurse's Health Study, explains WebMD, women who consumed the most trans fats had a 50 percent higher risk of a heart attack than ones who consumed the least. According to Harvard School of Public Health researchers, ridding the diet of trans fats can decrease the risk of diabetes by 40 percent. Also called trans fats or trans fatty acids, hydrogenated fats are created by adding hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them solid.
Trans fats increase the shelf life and stability of processed foods and appear in many commercial baked goods, such as crackers and breads and fried foods, such as donuts and microwave popcorn. No safe or recommended level of trans fats has been established, so people are advised to limit their intake. Consumers can identify trans fats in the foods they buy on food labels. Consumers must carefully read the entire label, because a food can have less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving while the nutrition information says 0 grams, explains Mayo Clinic. To find any hidden trans fats, consumers must look in the list of ingredients. Hydrogenated fats are frequently labeled "partially hydrogenated."