Researchers say that frying, even in moderation, promotes the development of heart disease, such as heart failure. The higher the weekly consumption, the greater the risk.

Eating, fried, food, is, very, bad, for, the, heart


People who enjoy fried foods should consume them with great care and moderation. This is the conclusion of a recent study published in the journal Heart that points to a link with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke (abrupt stoppage of blood flow to a part of the brain). Chicken, fish, potatoes... this risk would increase with each additional weekly portion of about 114 grams. This study is the first to look at the impact of this type of food on heart health, knowing that a purely "western" diet is already known not to promote good cardiovascular health.

 To explore this link, researchers searched several databases to find relevant studies on this topic published up to April 2020. They pooled data from 17 studies involving 562,445 participants and 36,727 major cardiovascular "events" such as heart attack and stroke, and then pooled data from six studies involving 754,873 participants and 85,906 deaths over an average period of 9.5 years. Their analysis showed that, compared to the lowest category of weekly fried food consumption, the highest was associated with a 28% increased risk of major cardiovascular events.

Linked to several types of heart disease

In addition, the results also showed a 22% increased risk of coronary artery disease (narrowing or obstruction of the coronary arteries) by 22%, and heart failure (inability of the heart muscle to perform its normal blood-propelling role in the body) by 37%. "A linear association has emerged between the consumption of fried foods and major cardiovascular events, coronary heart disease and heart failure. "The researchers explain. Each additional weekly serving of 114 grams increased the respective risk of major cardiovascular events, coronary heart disease and heart failure by 3%, 2% and 12%.

Scientists point out, however, that many studies have included only one type of fried food, such as fried fish or potatoes, rather than an overall intake, which means this association may be underestimated. They also caution that "the design of the studies included in the analysis varied considerably and they all relied on memory, factors that should be considered when interpreting the results. "Their findings did not specifically explain how eating fried foods may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease, but several hypotheses are suggested.

A few simple rules for successful frying

The first track concerns the fact that fried foods have a high energy intake due to their fat content and moreover contain harmful trans fatty acids due to the hydrogenated vegetable oils often used to cook them. "Frying also stimulates the production of chemical byproducts involved in the body's inflammatory response, while foods such as fried chicken and French fries are usually high in added salt and often accompanied by sweetened beverages, especially when served in fast food restaurants," they conclude. These findings were subsequently praised by several UK-based scientists. 

"These results are consistent with current recommendations to limit the consumption of fried foods, but cannot be considered definitive evidence for their role in cardiovascular health," says Professor Alun Hughes of University College London (UCL). "We know that frying foods can degrade their nutritional value, generate harmful trans fats and increase their calorie content, leading to processes that can cause heart disease. But more studies are needed, with technologies that can record our diets more accurately over long periods of time," adds Prof. Riyaz Patel of UCL. 

In France, the national nutrition and health program called "Manger Bouger" also stresses the importance of limiting the consumption of fried foods. "The problem is that it's fatty! Food is immersed in a very hot oil bath and sees its nutritional density change during cooking: the water it contains is gradually replaced by the fat from frying and some of its vitamins are destroyed under the effect of heat," note the experts. To limit the damage, they recommend using vegetable oil "for frying and seasoning" and, once the food is fried, placing it on paper to eliminate excess fat.