Scientists from the University of Navarra in Spain found that virgin olive oil strongly reduces the risk of heart disease.
They also found that the myth that frying foods is generally linked to a higher risk of heart disease is not supported by the available evidence.
Obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes are strongly linked to dietary habits. Eating fried foods frequently may increase the risks of these chronic diseases.
However, it is not clear whether the use of vegetable oils for cooking increases or decreases the risk of chronic diseases.
Vegetable oils, or vegetable fats, are oils extracted from seeds or from other parts of fruits.
Like animal fats, vegetable fats are mixtures of triglycerides. Soybean oil, grape seed oil, and cocoa butter are examples of seed oils or fats from seeds.
Vegetable oils are known to have numerous health benefits. They are a major source of energy and a carrier of essential nutrients which are vital for growth and metabolism.
They are recommended as an alternative to sources of saturated fat, such as butter, lard, and tallow.
In the current study, researchers reviewed published studies that assessed the link between eating vegetable oil including eating fried foods, and the risks of obesity or weight gain, type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome, and heart disease or high blood pressure.
They found a total of twenty-three published studies and included them in the review.
Based on the results of these studies, the team found that the myth that frying foods is generally linked to a higher risk of heart disease is not supported by the available evidence.
Virgin olive oil strongly reduces the risk of heart disease, even for frying foods.
However, the whole Mediterranean dietary pattern plays a more important role rather than the supplemental extra-virgin olive oil alone.
Eating lots of fried foods is probably related to a higher risk of weight gain.
But many factors such as the type of oil used and the frying technique (deep-frying or pan-frying), frying duration and temperature, and use of new or reused oils for frying have to be taken into account.
The research is published in The British Journal of Nutrition and was conducted by Carmen Sayon-Orea et al.
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