Put Down that Fried Chicken Sandwich (Really)

Janet Tiberian Author
By Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES
April 12, 2019
Fried food may raise your heart attack risk.

Americans love fried food. About 33 percent of American adults eat fast-food, usually fried, every day. Fried chicken, Buffalo wings, fried fish, French fries, tacos and tortillas — it's a long list and heavy in America's favorite foods.

Favorite or not, eating fried foods raises the risk for obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. But fried foods haven't necessarily been linked to death — until now. It seems regularly eating deep fried foods can raise the risk of early death among post-menopausal women, according to a study published in The British Medical Journal

“Fried foods tend to be higher in calories and are usually fried in unhealthy oils,” says Bernard Kaminetsky, MD, medical director, MDVIP. “Avoid fried foods, but if you're going to fry, choose healthier oils like coconut, olive and avocado oils.”

Researchers from University of Iowa and Washington University School of Medicine analyzed approximately 107,000 dietary questionnaires from women ages 50 to 79 and enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative between 1993 and 1998 and followed until February 2017. During the analysis, 31,588 women died — nearly a third from heart related issues, 8,358 from cancer and 13,880 from other issues.

Researchers analyzed women’s total consumption of fried foods such as fried chicken, fried fish, fried fish sandwiches, fried shrimp, fried oysters, French fries, tortilla chips and tacos. Variables such as lifestyle, overall diet, education level and income were factored into the analysis.

Results suggested that regularly eating fried foods raised the risk of heart-related death, particularly among women between 50 and 65 years old. More specifically, one or more servings of fried chicken per day seemed to raise the overall death rate by 13 percent and heart-related deaths by 12 percent. And one or more servings of fried fish or shellfish per day was tied to raising the overall death rate by 7 percent and the heart-related death rate by 13 percent. Surprisingly, researchers didn’t find a correlation between fried foods and cancer-related deaths.

“This study is an observational study, so it doesn’t explain cause and effect; it only demonstrates a correlation,” says Kaminetsky. “But it’s an important correlation. It takes us one step closer to understanding the connection between cardiovascular disease and diet. And if you eat fried foods on a regular basis, work with your primary care physician to control other risk factors for coronary artery disease.”

If you don’t have a primary care physician, consider partnering with an MDVIP-affiliated physician. They have time to really work with you to develop a wellness plan that can help you focus on preventing or controlling heart disease. Find a physician near you and begin your partnership in health » 

About the Author
Janet Tiberian Author
Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES

Janet Tiberian is MDVIP's health educator. She has more than 25 years experience in chronic disease prevention and therapeutic exercise.

View All Posts By Janet Tiberian, MA, MPH, CHES
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