“Everyone” knows that eating fried foods is bad for you. Right?
No! It simply isn’t true. A new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) should put that old canard to rest. Eating fried foods may even provide benefits for heart disease and longevity.
Though it focuses only on two types of vegetable oil, I’ll explain why the old studies that purport to show harm from fried foods are just plain wrong, even when non-veggie oils are involved.
The study, titled “Consumption of fried foods and risk of coronary heart disease: Spanish cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study” (BMJ 2012;344:e363), followed 40,757 Spanish people aged 29-69 from 1992 through 2004. All were free of heart disease at the start of the trial. The authors heart disease events and deaths from all causes. Two kinds of oil were in use, olive and sunflower. There was no distinction between the two in terms of heart disease or longevity.
The authors divided the group into equal sizes based on fried food consumption. Group 1 had the lowest and Group 4 the highest. Three different sets of statistical analyses were done:
We’ll focus on Model 1, as there can easily be arguments about whether the adjustments in the other models are valid. The results are remarkable in being almost entirely the opposite of what our governments and health societies have been trying to promote for the last couple of decades. The table below gives some of the most salient results:
|Group 1||Group 2||Group 3||Group 4|
|Coronary Heart Disease:|
|Number of Events||154||163||150||139|
|Model 1 Hazard Ratio||1.00||1.05||0.97||0.94|
|All Cause Mortality:|
|Number of Deaths||328||276||273||258|
|Model 1 Hazard Ratio||1.00||0.90||0.91||0.89|
|Diabetes Mellitus (%)||7.5||5.1||3.9||3.2|
|Association Between Death & Types of Fried Foods (Number of Deaths)|
The study is revealing in a number of ways. Notice that the death rate of those with the highest fried foods intake is about 11% lower than those with the lowest rate (0.89 vs 1.00). In terms of diseases diagnosed, regardless of death rates, the results are also interesting:
Even the claims about which foods we should and shouldn’t eat may be contrary to what we’re told. Fried fish seemed to have little effect on longevity. However, greater amounts of fried meat, potatoes, and eggs correlated strongly with greater longevity. (It should be noted, though, that these are only the relative amounts of fried foods, so when compared with total intake of these foods, the whole story may prove a bit different.)
The study, of course, referenced two types of vegetable oils, sunflower and olive. We cannot, of course, draw any conclusions about the effects of using saturated fats in frying. However, as this study demonstrates, much of what we’re routinely told about diet is simply false. Notice that people whose diets were highest in fried foods had the lowest cholesterol?
Many studies appear to have shown that saturated fats are harmful, resulting in higher death rates. There have fatal flaws:
The studies reported in the journals claiming that saturated fats are unhealthy are junk science. In point of fact, our bodies require saturated fats.
Does any of this mean that it’s okay to go out and eat at fast food joints or start stuffing down the prepared foods from supermarkets? Absolutely not! Those foods are the next thing to poison. They’re made from foods grown in depleted soils. They’re processed to a fare-the-well. Chemicals are added for every reason except health, and many of them, such as aspartame and some preservatives, are devastating to health. The fats are all hydrogenated, including the vegetable fats, which go rancid rapidly if they aren’t. They’re cooked to a pulp. They are largely empty of nutrition, loaded with calories, and full of poisons. So no, this study does not give permission to eat junk food.
What should you believe? When the science is good, it’s to be trusted. Sadly, far too much of it isn’t. It’s financed by Agribusiness. In the case of this study, financing came from sources with no Agribusiness interests. So the researchers could afford to be honest.
Isn’t it amazing what honest research shows? The facts are often dramatically different from what we’re usually told.
If you want good health, the bottom line is to eat foods from natural sources, not ones from Agribusiness. If you enjoy fried foods, then eat them. Just be sure that the fats you use are high quality, organic, and fresh.