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Drop that Fry


Just one serving a day linked with increased risk

It’s well documented that fruits and vegetables help keep body weight in check and keep us feeling full while promoting health and longevity.  Oddly enough, there is little evidence on the effect crispy fried foods have on mortality – we know it’s high in calories, and contributes to inflammation and risk for diabetes and heart disease but how does eating fried foods like chicken, fish or chips effect lifespan This is important to consider because, between 25-36% of Americans eat fried foods daily. A study published in The British Medical Journal, suggests that just one serving of fried chicken or fish a day could be detrimental.

In this observational study, researchers looked at data from over 100,000 women 50-79 years old who participated in the U.S. Women’s Health Initiative (a long term study which looks at major diseases impacting post-menopausal women).  Participants filled out food frequency questionnaires which specified fried foods such as chicken, fish/shellfish or others like fries, potatoes, rice, fritters, chips etc.  Those participants were then followed for the rest of their lives—an average of 17 years—and then their death records were reviewed.  Researchers found that women who ate more total fried foods, especially fried chicken, fish and shellfish had a higher risk for all cause and cardiovascular mortality.  These women were identified as younger, non-white, with lower levels of income and education.  They were also smokers, had poor overall diet quality and low physical activity. 

Just one or more servings of fried chicken a day was linked to 13% higher risk of death from any cause and a 12% increase in risk of heart related death.  Fried fish or shellfish was linked to a 7% and 13% higher risk respectively.  Interestingly, studies from Mediterranean countries contradict these findings where fried foods are usually consumed at home and fried in olive oil – in the US they’re often eaten away from the home and are usually fried in corn oil, which – another reminder of the health benefits of cooking at home!  

More research is needed but this study suggests that women in the US could increase longevity by reducing foods such as fried chicken or fried fish in the diet.  For a lighter version of fried fare, try our Asian “Fried Rice” with Quinoa or Hawaiian Style Fried Cauliflower Rice.

Published May 1, 2019

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