Eating foods that have been fried in these oils isn’t linked to heart disease or premature death, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal.
Researchers from Autonomous University of Madrid assessed the cooking methods of more than 40,000 adults over an 11-year period. Knowing that eating an excess of fried food can raise blood pressure and cholesterol, they expected that it would also increase the risk of heart disease and risk of early death. None of the participants had heart disease at the start of the study, but by the end 606 heart disease events had been documented, and 1134 people had died of a range of causes. Interestingly, there was no link found between the quantity of fried food eaten and the risk of coronary heart disease or death.
The study authors theorise that this result is probably because olive oil and sunflower oils are the kind most commonly used in Spain, whereas people in other parts of the world often use solid and re-used oils. Frying is one of the most common methods of heating food in Western countries, whereas in countries such as China and Japan, for example, steaming is more popular. When food is fried the resulting dish has a much higher calorie count because it absorbs the fat it is cooked in.
“While the research is interesting, I'd want to see more studies replicating these results and teasing out all the causes and effects before recommending that you can indulge in frequent meals of fish and chips, for example, without bearing the health consequences,” says registered nutritionist Dr Carina Norris.
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