Consuming fried foods can increase the risk of major heart disease and stroke, a new study has warned.
The research revealed that the risk increases with each additional intake or 114 grams weekly serving of any fried food.
Findings from analysis carried out in the study were published in Heart, a biweekly, peer-reviewed official journal of the British Cardiovascular Society, which covers all areas of cardiovascular medicine and surgery.
Experts say heart diseases are a range of conditions that affect the heart, some of which are preventable.
The diseases include coronary artery disease, heart arrhythmias (irregular beating pattern), heart failure, heart valve disease, endocarditis, pericardial disease, cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease) and congenital heart disease.
According to data from the World Health Organisation, over half a million Nigerians died from non-communicable diseases in 2012, and one out of every five Nigerian adults over the age of 30 will likely die prematurely from it, including cardiovascular diseases.
The WHO noted that in terms of risk factors for heart disease, 35 per cent of Nigerian adults had elevated blood pressures in 2008.
The UN health body pointed out that the majority of heart disease and stroke is preventable, and that cardiovascular risk factors are well known.
A consultant Cardiologist, Dr. Eugene Nwosu, said consuming fried foods, especially those prepared with oil that contain trans fat, causes bad cholesterol profile, as it decreases the HDL (good) cholesterol that protects the body.
“It can cause an increase in the cholesterol that causes clog in the artery, which can lead to heart attack and blockage,” he added.
The American-trained heart specialist and medical director of United Heart Hospital and Clinic, Lagos, said fried foods are very inflammatory and that coronary artery disease is an inflammatory process.
“Heart attack starts with inflammation. Fried food increases inflammation in the body, which can lead to rupture of the plaque that triggers heart attack and stroke.
“Basically, it depends on the type of oil used because there are good, better oils out there. Also, the temperature at which you fry also matters.
“Things like chin-chin and puff-puff, which we consume daily, are fried. They are even worse because the flour used is refined and not whole grain.
“Eating them can cause insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes and ultimately, heart disease,” he warned.
According to the research, fried foods boost energy intake because of their high fat content and that it generates harmful trans fatty acids from hydrogenated vegetable oils often used to cook them.
It further noted that frying boosts the production of chemical by-products involved in the body’s inflammatory response, and that food like fried chicken and French fries are unhealthy, as they are usually high in added salt.
Study authors said it was clear that Western diet doesn’t promote good cardiovascular health, but that it remains unclear what contribution fried food might add to the risks of serious heart disease and stroke.
The researchers said to underscore the risks, they searched through research databases for relevant studies published up to April 2020, and found 19 on the subject matter.
They then pooled data from 17 of them that involved 562,445 participants and 36,727 major cardiovascular ‘events’, such as a heart attack or stroke, to assess cardiovascular disease risk.
“We pooled the data from six, involving 754,873 participants and 85,906 deaths over an average monitoring period of 9.5 years, to assess the potential link between fried food consumption and deaths from cardiovascular disease and from any cause.
“Analysis showed that compared with the lowest category of weekly fried food consumption, the highest was associated with a 28 per cent heightened risk of major cardiovascular events; a 22 per cent heightened risk of coronary heart disease; and a 37 per cent heightened risk of heart failure.
“These associations held true when stratified by various study and participant characteristics.
“What’s more, a linear association emerged between fried food consumption and major cardiovascular events, coronary heart disease, and heart failure.”
Continuing, the researchers stated, “These risks substantially increased by three per cent, two per cent and 12 per cent, respectively, in tandem with each additional 114 g weekly serving.”
They noted that several studies included only one type of fried food, such as fried fish, potatoes, or snacks, rather than total fried food intake, adding that this may have underestimated the associations found.
The researcher pointed out that no associations were found for deaths from cardiovascular disease or from any other cause, and said it might be due to the relatively small numbers involved.
Design of studies used varied considerably, they disclosed, adding that they all relied on memory, which are factors that should be considered when interpreting the results.
However, the study authors said exactly how fried foods might influence the development of cardiovascular disease is not entirely clear, but suggested several possible explanations.
“Fried foods boost energy intake because of their fat content and they generate harmful Trans fatty acids from the hydrogenated vegetable oils often used to cook them.
“Frying also boosts the production of chemical by-products involved in the body’s inflammatory response, while food, such as fried chicken and French fries, are usually high in added salt, and often accompanied by sugar-sweetened drinks, particularly when served in fast food restaurants, they say,” they noted.
In a similar study, the lead author and an assistant professor at Dalhousie University, Canada, Dr. Leah Cahill, also warned that fried foods may influence risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease through several key risk factors like obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
“The process of frying is known to alter the quality and increases the caloric content of food.
“Fried food served in fast-food restaurants are often cooked in hydrogenated oils that are high in trans fats.
“Many restaurants use these oils because they give food a satisfying taste and crunch. But they’re not good for you.
“Trans fats raise bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, lower good (HDL) cholesterol levels, and raise your chance of having heart disease.
“Hydrogenated oil is especially unhealthy when it’s reused, which restaurants often do.
“Oil breaks down with each frying, which changes their composition and causes more oil to be absorbed into the food.
“These changes further boost your chances of having high cholesterol and high blood pressure,” Cahill said.
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