Shortening is a type of fat which is used in cooking and baking.
It has a long history of use in American kitchens since early 1900s.
But now it has grown out of use for most people as it has been found to contain high amount of calories and trans-fat. And now, brands have started making low caloric oils with high nutrient value.
Let us have a look at caloric contents of ‘shortening’:
A tablespoon (13 grams) of shortening may contain:
Total fat: 12.7 grams
Unsaturated fat: 8.9 grams
Saturated fat: 3.2 grams
Trans fat: 1.7 grams
Vitamin K: 8% of the RDI
It clearly shows the fat content. It’s 100% fat based and has no nutritional benefits.
Why people use Shortening?
It has higher melting point and therefore more stable for frying. It is also cheaper and produces more soft pastries and cookies. Thus, mostly used in pastries and other baking or frying.
Is shortening harmful?
Shortening was traditionally made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Partial hydrogenation creates a smooth, spreadable texture, but also produces harmful trans fats.
However, now companies have started substituting the trans fat by saturated and unsaturated fats. And the labels do not contain trans fat as an ingredient. But, it may not really reveal if it actually doesn’t contain any as according to company laws if it contains less than 0.5 gms per serving, it can mention as 0 trans-fat.
However, one can still identify. If it contains ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oil’, then it contains trans fats too.
Should we consume shortening?
Shortening as an oil contains 100% fat and no nutrients unlike many other oils. Thus, its better to keep its consumption limited and check for the labels carefully. Also, there are many alternatives available such as butter, coconut oil or palm oil, that can be better and healthier substitutes.