Finally, some good news for fried food lovers. Spanish researchers have found foods fried in olive or sunflower oil don’t raise heart disease risks.
While eating food fried in animal fats has been linked to increased heart disease risks – from high cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure – olive and sunflower oils don’t pose the same threat, according to the new study published in the British Medical Journal.
To reach their conclusions, researchers from Autonomous University of Madrid tracked the cooking methods of nearly 41,000 healthy adults aged 29 to 69 over an 11-year period. None had heart disease when the study began. They asked participants about their diet and cooking methods -- whether food they ate was fried, battered, crumbed or sautéed.
The participants were then divided into four categories, based on their fried food consumption – the first ate the lowest amount of fried foods, the fourth had the highest.
During the follow-up there were 606 events linked to heart disease and 1,134 deaths. But the researchers found no difference in the disease or death rates among the groups, regardless of fried-food consumption.
"In a Mediterranean country where olive and sunflower oils are the most commonly used fats for frying, and where large amounts of fried foods are consumed both at and away from home, no association was observed between fried food consumption and the risk of coronary heart disease or death," the authors concluded.
The researchers stressed, however, that their study took place in Spain, where olive or sunflower oil is used for frying, and their results would probably not be the same in another country where solid and re-used oils are used for frying.
In an accompanying editorial, Michael Leitzmann from the University of Regensburg in Germany, said the study explodes the myth that "frying food is generally bad for the heart" but stresses that this "does not mean that frequent meals of fish and chips will have no health consequences."