Fry Your Food But Skip The Heart Disease?

Healthier oil keeps fried foods more heart friendly

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Fried foods are unlikely to increase the health of your heart, but they might not be the big heart no-no they were once suspected of being.

Fried foods do not appear to be linked to coronary heart disease if you fry only occasionally, and use olive or sunflower oil when preparing food.

"Use sunflower or olive oil when frying food."

Dr. Pilar Guallar-Castillón, of the Autonomous University of Madrid, noted that the finding was made in Spain, where individuals commonly cook with sunflower or olive oil. This suggests Americans could reap similar benefits by following a Mediterranean-style diet and avoiding regular use of other cooking oils.

Spanish researchers followed more than 40,000 individuals between the ages of 29 and 69 for 12 years. The patients did not have heart disease at the beginning of the study and investigators conducted detailed dietary and cooking method interviews with the patients. An average of 7 percent of their food intake was fried, or about 5 ounces a day, roughly equal to a medium size serving of french fries.

Cardiovascular events, such as the incidence of heart attacks, were followed through hospital discharge registries, population-based heart attacks registries and mortality reports. During follow up, there were 605 coronary heart disease events, and 1,135 patients died from any cause.

They found the risk of heart disease was not significantly elevated regardless of the amount of fried food intake, after adjustments for body mass index, high blood pressure and other factors.

Investigators compared groups by the amount of fried food they consumed, and gave each quartile group a hazard ratio. When the group that ate the largest amount of fried food, at 8.8 ounces a day, was compared against those who ate the fewest fried foods, at 1.6 ounces a day, the hazard ratio was 1.08, indicating there was little heart risk among any of the groups.

Previous studies had found a link between fried food consumption and an elevated risk of heart attack. Though fried foods may not negatively affect the heart, frying foods adds a higher calorie count to food and could contribute to obesity, high cholesterol and hypertension.

The study was recently published in the British Medical Journal.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 25, 2012
Last Updated:
January 28, 2012