Even Small Amounts of Fried Food Linked to Worse Heart Health

Our team believes in “all things in moderation.” Generally speaking, we don’t believe in taking any food “off the table” or saying that things are against the rules. We believe that a healthy diet can include treats as long as we balance ourselves out by keeping our portions small and the rest of our diet healthy. But, new research is making us pump the breaks.

Fried food can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. A new study has given us solid numbers of just how bad fried food is for the ticker. People who ate the most fried food per week had a 22 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease, a 28 percent higher risk of a major cardiovascular event and a 37 percent higher risk of heart failure than those who ate the least. And, each four-ounce serving of fried food increased the risk of heart disease by two percent, a heart attack or stroke by three percent and heart failure by 12 percent. One medium-sized order of fries from McDonald’s is just over four ounces. Four ounces isn’t a massive amount of food, but it obviously has a large impact.

The researchers combined the data from 17 studies to work with medical information from more than 560,000 people and nearly 37,000 major cardiac events. They used data from an additional six studies with more than 750,000 people and 86,000 deaths over 10 years.

The researchers wrote, “Our study provided evidence for the adverse effects of consuming fried food on cardiovascular disease and can be useful for dietary guidelines. The World Health Organization suggested limiting fried food consumption to reduce the amount of total fat intake and industrially produced trans-fatty acid intake for a healthy diet. However, no dietary guideline is approved for the specific effect of fried food consumption on cardiovascular disease.” 

Because of how the data was gathered, the study has limitations. It’s great that they had so much information, that’s how they could get such precise percentages. But, it’s impossible to control for other variables. For instance, how much salt was in the fried food the people were eating? And, did people eat their fried food with soda or other sweetened drinks? What were the different people’s lifestyles like? Those percentages are correct for the people in this study, but they might not be for you if you are highly active or never drink soda. We don’t know anything about the participants’ behavior outside of eating fried food.

There are a lot of questions that need to be asked. The study shows very obviously that there is a link between heart health and fried food. And, it seems clear that any amount cannot be considered a healthy amount. However, these numbers aren’t etched in stone.

If you’re a fan of fried food, consider turning to roasting more for crispy options. While the study shows that no amount of fried food is healthy, it also demonstrates that less fried food is significantly better than a lot. So, taking steps in the right direction is always a great start!

Banner image: Erik Mclean via Unsplash
January 20, 2021

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