Dear Living Well Daily Reader,
Let’s face it — there’s nothing better than biting into a fried chicken drumstick or a piping-hot onion ring.
But if you’re like most folks, it’s probably been a while since you had the sensation of grease dripping down your chin.
There always seems to be a spouse, child, or doctor waiting in the wings to warn you about the dangers of fried foods.
But what if everything… and I mean EVERYTHING… we’ve been told about fried foods is wrong?
A new study reveals that our trusty frying pan may not be nearly as dangerous as we thought.
And enjoying fried foods the right way may be the key to keeping your heart in tip-top shape.
New research from the University of Edinburgh shows that the problem with fried foods isn’t the grease at all — unless it’s too hot.
It turns out that cooking foods at temperatures higher than 300 degrees F (150 C) changes their chemical structures.
That can lead to the formation of toxins called neoformed contaminants (NFCs).
This can get a little complicated, but here’s what you need to know. NFCs include trans fat, which are notorious heart-wreckers (think nasty stuff in margarine), and glycogen end products that increase your risk for heart disease.
Foods fried at high temperatures are particularly dangerous because the oils rapidly break down and form trans fats.
Plus, the danger increases when cooking oils are reused (like at your favorite fast-food dive). Each use ups the amount of trans fats and your risk of heart troubles.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that frying foods at lower temperatures may not be unhealthy at all… it can even be good for you.
To prove this, an international team of researchers scoured past studies that focused on how NFCs affected the heart health of both humans and animals.
Then they looked at heart disease rates in certain countries around the world.
People from South Asian countries like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, where foods are deep-fried at high temperatures, were FOUR TIMES as likely to suffer from heart disease.
But nearby China had the lowest risk of heart disease. The researchers think this is due to Chinese meals having more foods that are lightly fried at lower temperatures.
And, of course, we know that frying foods can actually be GOOD for your heart. That’s because some cooking oils like olive oil and coconut oil come with plenty of heart-friendly benefits.
A good rule of thumb is to make sure the fried food you eat comes from your own kitchen, and not some burger joint or greasy spoon diner. This is the only way to be sure the cooking oils aren’t being used repeatedly.
Second, never fry your foods at temperatures higher than 300 degree F. And while that sounds low, it works just fine for delicious fried chicken.
Managing editor, Living Well Daily