Most people are unaware of the fact that when
food is fried, the nutritional contents undergo a transformation; the food
loses water and absorbs fat, thereby increasing its calorie content. Through
the processes of oxidation and hydrogenation, frying also brings about a change
in the cooking medium and increases the trans fats content. The degraded
content of the oil used are absorbed by the food that's being fried.
For all the above said reasons fried foods have
always been associated with various conditions such as obesity, hypertension
and cardiovascular diseases.
In the EPIC -Spain cohort prospective study, an
attempt was made to analyze the association between the consumption of food and
the risk of developing coronary heart disease in people.
Healthy men from five Spanish regions of north
and south Spain were the subjects of the study. These regions had widely varied
food habits and were therefore highly suitable for the study. The subjects
mostly comprised of blood donors, civil servants and the general public.
A questionnaire was used to procure information
from the participants. Information regarding food intake during a typical week
was recorded at least twice a month, for a whole year. The energy and nutrient
intake was calculated using the EPIC food composition table.
Non- dietary variables such as smoking, exercise
and educational levels were obtained. Standardized procedures were employed to
measure weight, height and waist circumference.
Coronary heart disease was classified according
to symptoms, signs, biomarkers and ECG findings. 62% of the participants made
use of olive oil for frying while the rest used sunflower or vegetable oil.
It was observed that those who were younger and
better educated consumed more fried food. They also consumed less fruits, vegetables,
nuts, milk and non- fried fish. The habit of eating fried foods was more
common in men than in women.
Of the total amount of fried food taken among
the participants 24% was fish, 22% meat, 21% potatoes, and 11% were eggs. There
was no link established between any of these food items and heart diseases.
The EPIC-Spain cohort suggests that frying with
olive oil or sunflower oil is not usually associated with a higher risk of
coronary heart disease. That may not be the case if frying is carried out with
Although the study had limitations, it helped to
put forth the fact that in Mediterranean countries where large amounts of fried
food is consumed, the risk of coronary heart disease was not too high. This is
largely due to the fact that most of the frying is done using olive or
The results are mostly applicable in places
where frying methods are similar to those carried out in Spain. Here, the oil
used for frying is almost never reused and the amount of salt consumed with
fried foods is low.
Reference: "Consumption of fried
foods and risk of coronary heart disease:"
Spanish cohort of the
European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study; Pilar et al; BMJ 2012;344:e363