Scientists from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs found that eating fried food may increase the risks of heart disease and stroke.
Deep frying is a cooking method in which food is submerged in hot fat, such as cooking oil.
Deep frying is classified as a dry cooking method because no water is used. Due to the high temperature involved and the high heat conduction of oil, the food is then prepared quickly.
Fried foods are high in fat, calories, and often salt. Several studies have linked fried foods to serious health problems like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Researchers suggest that fried foods carry heart risks in part because they spur inflammation.
Besides provoking inflammation, fried foods are often also high in sodium as well as harmful saturated fats.
Previous studies have found conflicting results about the link between eating fried food and heart disease.
In the study, the team tested the hypothesis that frequently eating fried food is linked to a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes in Million Veteran Program (MVP) participants.
They analyzed veterans Health Administration electronic health records and the self-reported eating fried food (<1, 1-3, 4-6 times per week or daily).
The team focused on the risks of non-fatal heart attacks and strokes in these participants.
Among 154,663 participants with survey data, the average age was 64 years and 90% were men. During a follow-up of about 3 years, there were 6,725 heart disease events.
The team found that the frequency of eating fried food was linked to the risk of heart disease events.
The link between fried foods and heart disease and stroke was highest in people who ate most fried foods.
They concluded that in this large national cohort of U.S. Veterans, eating fried food was linked to heart disease risk.
The researchers suggest that If people choose to indulge in them, do it sparingly. And avoid foods fried in animal fats; instead, choose foods fried in vegetable oils.
One limitation of the study is that most of the participants were men. Future work needs to confirm the finding in women and explore different types of fried foods people were eating.
The research is published in Clinical Nutrition and was conducted by Jacqueline Honerlaw et al.
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