According to data from the Spanish cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), fried food may not harm the heart as long as it is fried in olive oil.
In this study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers gathered information over the course of ten years from 40,757 adults aged 29-69 who were free of coronary heart disease at the beginning of the study. After analyzing the information, there was no association noted between fried food consumption after adjusting for energy intake, age, and gender, with coronary heart disease events.
Although frying is generally considered unhealthy mainly because it increases calorie and fat intake, under certain circumstances it can be a part of a healthy diet. But it is important to note that the fried foods in this situation are fried mainly in olive oil that has not been reused.
The researchers noted these results were in the context of a traditional Mediterranean diet with greater use of olive oil, which is less prone to degradation during frying. Frying with other types of fats, reusing oils several times, or consuming fried snacks high in salt may still be harmful, they added.
The lesson to be learned here is that olive oil is the preferred oil for frying, and if you do follow a Mediterranean style diet, occasional fried food might not be so bad after all.