Heart Health: Avoid Fried Food

It should be of no surprise that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are gradually phasing out foods high in trans and saturated fats: A staggering 56% of people that consume large quantities of fried food and sugary drinks are at risk of heart disease. The findings were published in the journal, American Heart Association and was based on research over a 6-year period, with over 17,000 Americans participating – the participants were of white and African-American race and above the age of 45. The study also included four other food habit groups - convenience foods, plant-based, sweet and alcohol/ salads. The other groups were not linked with heart disease. 

The people in the above-mentioned study consumed a fatty diet, referred to as the Southern style diet, consisting of processed poultry products, fried food, and sugary drinks. Southern food is also known for its deep-fried, battered, and buttered food, as well as foods smothered in rich gravies – all of which can clog up the arteries.Atherosclerosis Heart Disease

Atherosclerosis and LDL Cholestrol

The liver synthesizes two types of cholesterol, the good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol. Cholesterol is also found in the food we eat, the liver synthesizes more cholesterol when we eat saturated and trans fats (industrially manufactured). Atherosclerosis is a distinct example of heart disease, caused by LDL cholesterol that accumulates in the walls of arteries. This cluster forms atherosclerotic plaque that narrows the lumen of the blood vessels, which can be life threatening if untreated and which requires bypass surgery or stenting (widening of the blood vessels).

The Good Fats (HDL cholesterol)

Like all other food groups, it is important to eat a balanced diet of foods containing fats. The type of fats we consume have great influence over our general health. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are considered “good fats”, proven to lower or control cholesterol in the blood, as well as to maintain blood glucose – reducing the risk of developing heart disease. While foods containing saturated fats should be eaten in moderation. Replacing trans and saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats could be of benefit to the heart.

Which type of oil?

The type of oil we use in cooking, as well as method of cooking (baked, fried, grilled etc.) has an impact on our health. In addition, all oils have a different smoking point – a temperature that causes it to start smoking, producing toxic and harmful substances. Different oils are suited for specific styles of cooking; the smoke point is indicated for more refined, fresh oils rather than unhealthy oils that are reused in the cooking process.

All oils contain fat; in fact, a single tablespoon of oil contains approximately 120 calories. Healthier oils are those with polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats. Conversely, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils are the unhealthiest of oils, with a longer shelf life that contribute to high cholesterol and other heart-related conditions.

A Healthier Diet

Fried foods have been linked to other serious chronic conditions that include diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity – all of which contribute to the risk of heart failure. Prevention of most heart-related diseases through diet is possible by cutting out southern-style foods, and instead opting for grilled or baked foods, replacing red meat with chicken, as well as increasing fiber in the diet with assorted fruits and vegetables. In addition, people should avoid foods saturated in fat and use healthier oils (if required) to cook food.

Herzliya Medical Center has leading experts in the areas of Israeli medicine, cardiology, vascular surgery, nutrition and more.

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