As delicious as they might be, fried foods have frequently been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular events like heart attacks and strokes. To put that risk into perspective, a recent large analysis attempted to quantify exactly how much fried food consumption can be dangerous to heart health.
The analysis looked at the results of 19 studies, 17 of which were focused on major cardiovascular events and six of which investigated all forms of mortality. These studies included well over a million people, following them over an average of 10 years.
Compared with those who ate the least fried food, the analysis found that people who ate the most had a 28% greater risk of a major cardiovascular event, a 22% higher risk of heart disease and a 37% increased risk of heart failure over that period.
The overall findings were that cardiovascular risk increases with each 4-ounce serving of fried food eaten on a weekly basis – which equates to roughly half an average-sized chicken breast. The risk of a cardiovascular event, heart disease and heart failure increased by 3%, 2% and 12% respectively with each additional 4-ounce serving consumed weekly.
The authors noted that fried foods, particularly those from fast-food outlets, often contain trans fats that tend to raise levels of low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol, and reduce levels of “good” cholesterol, which harms cardiovascular health. Frying also boosts production of chemical byproducts which can affect the body’s inflammatory response.
Results of their analysis appear in the journal Heart.