Shortening Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 08/03/22 •  8 min read
shortening benefits and side effects


Shortening side effects may include:

Shortening is…

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02/17/2024 07:35 pm GMT


Water footprint: likely moderate, it takes 4,971 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of refined palm oil / 596 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of refined palm oil

Carbon footprint: likely high, 3.3 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of palm oil, a car driving equivalent of 7.75 miles or 12.5 kilometers

Destruction: high, shortening production is relatively destructive, mass deforestation, large-scale devastation of tropical forests, widespread habitat loss for endangered species like which can lead to significant soil erosion

Shortening is…


Kills: none, shortening production does not require any animals to be killed

Harms: orangoutangs, tigers, elephants, rhinoceros and other rainforest creatures, as palm oil is a commonly used shortening ingredient

Indirectly kills or harms: wildlife and ecosystems through deforestation, as palm oil is a commonly used shortening ingredient

Shortening is…


Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits


Where does most shortening come from?

The world’s top shortening exporter is USA, followed by Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, Switzerland, Mexico, Poland and Denmark.

shortening is acidic.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Is shortening alkaline or acidic?

Shortening is acidic once digested.

What is the pH level of shortening?

Shortening typically has a 3.5 pH level once digested. Most shortening is made from cottonseed oil or palm oil which are both highly acidic.

When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are found in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

shortening is gluten free.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is shortening gluten free?

Yes, shortening is gluten free. Shortening not contain gluten. Shortening is a type of fat that is a solid at room temperature, therefore making it a naturally gluten free food. 

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

shortening is not a common food allergen.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is shortening a common food allergen?

No, shortening is not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to shortening but it is relatively rare by comparison.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

shortening likely has a moderate water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Does shortening have a high or low water footprint?

Shortening likely has a relatively moderate water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of shortening?

It takes 4,971 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of refined palm oil / 596 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of refined palm oil (the most common key ingredient in most shortening products).

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource? Once it’s gone, it’s gone!

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of something referred to as a “water footprint”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

shortening likely has a high carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does shortening have a high or low carbon footprint?

Shortening likely has a relatively high carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of shortening?

It takes around 3.3 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of palm oil (the most common key ingredient in most shortening products), a car driving equivalent of 7.75 miles or 12.5 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

shortening is typically vegan but devastating to animal habitats and not vegan if butter is used.

palm oil effects orangutan habitats

Is shortening vegan?

Yes, shortening is vegan. Shortening is any fat that is a solid at room temperature, which could be butter but is more often vegetable oil, specifically palm oil. Shortening is often palm oil, which is vegan.

However, palm oil is devastating to wildlife habitats, specifically jungle animals in Indonesia whose homes are deforested for palm oil production.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy products.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

shortening is unsustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is shortening eco friendly? Is shortening sustainable?

Shortening production is relatively unsustainable.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

shortening may have labor issues and human rights concerns.

labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is shortening a product with labor concerns?

It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Some problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks.

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. :


Shortening, household, lard and vegetable oil – FoodData

Labelling requirements for fats and oils List of ingredients

Adriane Marie

Hi, I'm Adriane, creator of HEALabel! I organize info for you to comprehensively see how purchases impact health, environment, animals and laborers. Stay aware because you care! Subscribe below to get my weekly newsletter with tips, new info and other ethical consumer insight.

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