It is a well-known fact that fried foods are not good for heart health. A review of studies published recently in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has evaluated the extent to which fried foods adversely impact cardiovascular health. The study has made some insightful revelations about the association between fried foods and heart health that are important for everyone to know.
About the study
The study titled Fried-food consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality: a meta-analysis of observational studies was published in the BMJ on January 19, 2021. The objective of the study was to quantitatively determine the correlation between the intake of fried food and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
For the study, the researchers scanned through relevant studies published until April 2020 and selected 19. They pooled data from 17 previously published studies, involving 562,445 participants and 36,727 major cardiovascular 'events', such as a heart attack or stroke, to determine the risk of cardiovascular disease. The researchers also included data from 6 other studies, involving 754,873 participants and 85,906 deaths over an average duration of 9.5 years, to evaluate the association between intake of fried food and deaths from CVD and other causes.
Findings from the study
The study found that compared with people who consumed the least amount of fried food per week, those who ate the most had a 28% greater risk of major cardiovascular events (MCEs); a 22% increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD); and a 37% higher risk of heart failure. It discovered that each additional 114 grams serving of fried foods per week increased the risk of major cardiovascular events (MCE), coronary heart disease (CHD), and heart failure by 3%, 2%, and 12%, respectively.
Nevertheless, the study could not find any associations for deaths from CVD or any other cause. According to the researchers, this could be due to the relatively small numbers of deaths. The meta-analysis included several studies that only evaluated only one type of fried-food consumption (i.e. fried fish, fried potato or fried snack) but not the total fried food. The researchers say this may have also underestimated the association.
The researchers could not find how fried foods affect the development of cardiovascular disease. However, they have put forth some possible explanations. According to them, frying foods produces harmful trans-fatty acids from the hydrogenated vegetable oils that are often used in cooking. Frying also increases the manufacture of chemical by-products involved in the inflammatory response of the human body. Fried foods, such as french fries and fried chicken, contain high levels of added salt and are often consumed along with sweetened beverages.
Most of us know that consuming too much fried food is not good for the heart and overall health. The findings of the study have only reinforced the oft-stated negative impact of fried foods on heart health. People who wish to improve or maintain their heart health should limit their intake of fried food to as little as possible. On the other hand, those who have cardiovascular problems or are at risk of them should completely eliminate fried foods from their diet. Such people should opt for other healthier cooking methods such as steaming, boiling, and baking, instead of frying.
Talk to a cardiologist if you have any questions related to heart health.