A new meta-analysis showed that consuming fried foods is associated with an increased risk of major heart diseases, including heart attacks and strokes.
The study looked at the results of 19 studies. 17 of them were concerned with significant cardiovascular events. And 6 looked at all aspects of mortality.
The investigators find that the risk increases with each additional weekly serving weighing 4 oz (114 grams). The findings of the study are reported in the journal Heart.
The Western diet is usually rich in processed foods, saturated fats, refined sugars. It also contains carbohydrates, and poor fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and seafood. This type of diet is a risk factor for obesity and type 2 diabetes.
In their meta-analysis, the study looked mainly at fried foods common in Western diets. It also looked at how they impact cardiovascular health.
- Consuming fried food is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events
- Risk increases with each extra 4-ounce serving per week.
- Those who ate the most had a 37 percent higher chance of heart disease than those who ate the least fried food.
The effects of frying
Foods coated with flour and fried are also rich in calories. And, as the researchers point out, they taste fine, making overeating a temptation.
Fried foods, particularly those from fast-food chains, also contain trans fats. These increase the levels of low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol. Also, they reduce the levels of beneficial high-density lipoprotein or “good” cholesterol.
The researchers also point out that frying increases the development of chemical by-products. These can affect the body’s inflammatory reaction. Scientists have already linked consuming fried foods with:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary heart disease
However, the investigation of the connection between fried food and cardiovascular disease and mortality did not show consistent results. So, they provided conclusive data that doctors could use when giving nutritional advice.
Fried foods produce dangerous trans-fatty acids from hydrogenated vegetable oils. And frying often increases chemical by-products that cause inflammatory reactions. In addition, sugar-sweetened drinks are sometimes served with foods high in salt, such as fried chicken and French fries, particularly in fast-food restaurants, the researchers said.
Fried foods improve energy consumption due to their fat content. And they produce harmful trans-fatty acids from hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Frying can raise calorie count in foods
In addition, frying increases the energy density of food—basically, the calorie count. These conditions can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Honerlaw states that there are some recent studies on fried foods and coronary heart disease. For one, no large randomized study examined the impact of fried foods on coronary artery disease. She added that observational evidence could be error-prone.
Differences in how experiments have been performed, mistakes in self-reporting of fried foods, can partly explain this inconsistency. For example, variations in calories between deep and sautéed fried foods and the type of oil used for frying and portion sizes are sources of error and are not consistent through studies.
Fried food intake and disease
The investigators combined data from 17 trials. These include data from 562,445 participants and 36,727 significant cardiovascular events. Their aim is to determine cardiovascular disease risk. Data from six trials, involving 754,873 participants and 85,906 deaths, were also collected.
Compared to respondents, researchers discovered that those who ate the most fried food had:
- 28% increase in the risk of significant cardiovascular events
- 22% increase in the risk of coronary heart disease
- 37% increase in the risk of heart failure
The meta-analysis also found that every additional 4-oz weekly serving of fried food increased:
- The risk of heart disease by 12%
- Heart attacks and strokes by 3%
- Heart cancer by 2%
The team did not find any link between fried food and death due to cardiovascular disease or cause. However, this may indicate the inconsistency of previous findings. The authors believe that future researchers will find a connection. They have to follow the participants for longer periods.
More research is needed
The researchers warn that some of the study’s experiments analyzed only the effects of one form of fried food, such as fried fish or potatoes, rather than the overall fried food consumption of the participants. This could mean that associations have been underestimated.
Prof. Patel points out that the research depended on the respondents’ memory. They may have underestimated or overestimated the amount of fried food consumed.
Moreover, we’re consuming more fried food in isolation, so it’s hard to completely understand the complexities of what we eat and its effect on our body especially relating to heart diseases. Specifically, other factors associated with eating fried food could also lead to danger. These include a tendency to eat more:
- Sugary beverages
- Extra salt
- Eating other junk foods
- Lower exercise
Most of this data could not have been captured in past surveys. So, we cannot entirely account for it.
The meta-analysis authors agree that identifying the exact relationships between fried food and the risk of cardiovascular disease, cardiovascular mortality, and all-cause mortality will require more research.
How to stop eating fried foods
1. Plan ahead
There is no better way of dealing with your cravings than to schedule your snacks and meals. Have a nutritious breakfast and snacks ready and cooked for you at lunchtime and in the afternoon. Then you’re much less likely to grab a slice of leftover pizza, order fries, or enjoy the sweets.
2. Eat healthy fats
One of the most popular dietary myths is that fat makes you fat. The body needs fat! There are, however, several different types of fat. Limit saturated fats and avoid trans fats. But heart-healthy fats such as nuts and avocado will make you feel full and reduce your cravings.
3. Eat enough protein
Protein helps you feel full more often than other macronutrients like carbohydrates. Fill your diet with healthy protein products, including:
There’s less room—and less desire—for fast food when you’re complete.
4. Taste the rainbow
Add a few fresh and varied foods to the routine. The more varied your diet, the less often you’re going to get hungry or eat fried food.
5. Focus on the addition of healthy food
Research in nutrients has found that focusing on the good side of healthier eating is more successful. Add healthier food in your diet plan. Then it would be easier to avoid the unhealthful ones.
6. Try fruit
The fruit has sugar. But it also contains a number of vitamins, antioxidants, and water. It also provides fiber that slows down and balances the effects on blood sugar. This stops the sugar from crashing. Once you get rid of the sugar produced, the fruit will taste a lot sweeter and more satisfying.
7. Get More Sleep
The majority of the people don’t have enough sleep. You may be mindful of the impact on your mood or energy level. You may not realize that lack of sleep plays a major role in fried food cravings. Recent research in sleep found that sleep restriction resulted in more hunger. It also resulted in less capacity to control palatable snack consumption.
The Bottom Line
Although we should eat a variety of foods, fried foods can reduce this desire. As a result, you will get trapped in a circle of fried food eating and the more you eat, the more you want to eat. By taking the basic steps, today, you can break the cycle of eating fried foods and lead a healthy life and a decreased risk of heart diseases as a by-product.