You know fried food isn’t good for you, but it may be even worse than you think. The more you indulge in fried chicken, fried fish, French fries, and various chips and snacks, the higher your risk of having a heart attack or stroke later in life, according to a new study.
Combining information collected in 25 studies that included over 1.3 million people, a team of Chinese researchers was able to get a broad picture of the effect regularly consuming fried foods has on our hearts.
The relationship was simple and clear: As fried food consumption went up, so did the risk of heart problems. People who reported eating the most fried food in a week had a 28 percent greater risk of having a major cardiovascular event, such as heart attack or stroke, a 22 percent greater risk of heart disease and a 37 percent greater risk of developing heart failure when compared to people who reported eating the least amount of fried food in a week.
Each additional 4-ounce serving of fried food increased the risk of heart attack and stroke by 3 percent, while the chance of developing heart failure increased by 12 percent.
A serving of fried food equals four ounces or ½ cup or 114 grams. To put things in perspective, a small order of fries at Wendy’s is 113 grams. Two Krispy Kreme doughnuts is about 100 grams, and four mozzarella sticks at Burger King is right at 90 grams.
Chicken, fish and fries aren’t the only fried foods that increase your risk of health problems. Consider how often you eat foods like doughnuts, cheese sticks, egg rolls, hash browns, onion rings, hush puppies and funnel cakes. Don’t forget about corn chips, potato chips and tortilla chips, too.
Exactly how fried foods increase the risk of cardiovascular disease isn’t fully understood. It may be the trans fatty acids in hydrogenated vegetable oils that are often used for frying. It may be that just frying itself creates chemical byproducts that play a role in stimulating inflammatory responses in the body.
The sugary beverages that are so often consumed when eating fried foods, especially in fast food restaurants, may also add to the dangerous effects on the heart. Any or all of these could be involved, the researchers say.
You don’t have to totally remove fried food from your diet, but being aware of what foods are fried and choosing how often you eat them is just the smart thing to do to keep your heart healthy.
The study is published in Heart.