Fried food may not be bad as long as the type of oil used for frying is good, research finds

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 27th January 2012

Researchers from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, in Spain, have found that the link between the consumption of fried food and risk of coronary heart disease may not be as strong as previous research suggests.

The Spanish study published in the British Medical on Journal 24 January 2012, found that specific aspects of frying food, such as the oil used, together with other aspects of the diet are more important than the act of frying the food in itself.

The study comprised 40,757 people (about two-thirds of whom were women) and was conducted in five regions in Spain that traditionally have widely varying diets. Participants in the study were first interviewed at baseline (in 1992) about their usual diet and food preparation.

Sixty-two per cent of study subjects reported using olive oil for frying and the remaining participants used sunflower or other vegetable oils.

The research found that the consumption of fried foods was not associated with the risk of coronary heart disease during the 12 year follow-up.

Researcher Pilar Guallar-Castillon said, “We should emphasize that our results were obtained within the context of a healthy diet, the Mediterranean one, and may not be replicated with other types of diets.

“This result may seem surprising because frying is generally considered an
unhealthy way of preparing food. Existing data about the association between consumption of fried food and the risk of coronary heart disease are sparse and the findings inconsistent,” he said.

Mr Gualler-Castillon also said that future studies should characterise fried foods in more detail by including information on the type of oil used for frying, the type of frying procedure performed (deep fried or pan fried), the time and temperature used for frying, and the degree to which oils are reused.

Australian Food News’ Comment:

This report is interesting because it comes at the same time as policy arguments are taking place over settling of oil identity in ingredient lists on food labels. See our recent Australian Food News article concerning the separate identification of palm oil labelling.