Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Fried food is fine - within reason

At least, that's what the Telegraph reports.

It is a "myth" that regularly eating fried foods causes heart attacks, researchers have found, as long as you use olive oil or sunflower oil.

They say there is mounting research that it is the type of oil used, and whether or not it has been used before, that really matters.

The latest study, published in the British Medical Journal, found no association between the frequency of fried food consumption in Spain - where olive and sunflower oils are mostly used - and the incidence of serious heart disease.

However, the British Heart Foundation warned Britons not to "reach for the frying pan" yet, pointing out that the Mediterranean diet as a whole was healthier than ours.

. . .

The authors concluded: "In a Mediterranean country where olive and sunflower oils are the most commonly used fats for frying, and where large amounts of fried foods are consumed both at and away from home, no association was observed between fried food consumption and the risk of coronary heart disease or death."

Commenting on the findings in the BMJ, Professor Michael Leitzmann of the University of Regensburg in Germany said two other studies - one from Costa Rica and another by an international team - had also failed to find strong evidence of a link.

He said: "Taken together, the myth that frying food is generally bad for the heart is not supported by available evidence.

"However, this does not mean that frequent meals of fish and chips will have no health consequences."

Fried food did contain more calories, he said, while it had also been linked to high blood pressure and obesity.

The authors of the Spanish study noted that the findings could only really be extrapolated to other Mediterranean countries with similar diets, whose people tended to fry 'fresh' with olive and sunflower oil.

Fried foods from modern American-style takeaways were different, they argued, because these tended to have been cooked in re-used oils, higher in transfats.

In addition, such takeaways tended to contain much more salt, known to increase blood pressure and heart disease risk.

There's more at the link.

I'm very pleased to see this. We don't each much fried food, but at the urging of Miss D., we've switched to using olive oil instead of generic 'vegetable oil' when we do fry anything. It tastes better, and now it seems it's healthier too. (And no, we don't eat fried fast food very often, because we know the oils in fast food outlet fryers are usually, shall we say, less than optimally healthy . . . and all too many outlets buy used, filtered oil for re-use. Yuck!)

(Of course, one has to be careful to buy only top-quality olive oil. Adulterated olive oil is a huge problem in many countries, including both Britain and the USA. If olive oil is sold cheaply, the odds are pretty good it's the adulterated stuff. You pay for what you get, I'm afraid, in olive oil as in anything else.)



Anonymous said...

I found that NPR story you linked very interesting, Peter. I had not known that adulterated olive oil was a problem. Thanks!


Bob@thenest said...

Interesting article and agree, that link is interesting, too.

I like olive oil in cooking, but the wife brought home a jar of mayonaise made with olive oil. After tasting it I went out and bought a bottle of the old "regular" stuff. You just don't screw with mayonaise the old way, at least not with my taste buds.

fishofdeath said...

I'm a little late to the party, but canola oil works well for those foods which you don't want to have an olive oil taste.