For all you fans of fried food, I have some great news for you. New research suggests that when food is fried in trans fat-free oil, it may no longer put you at risk for seriously conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
Last year, the Food and Drug Administration did something pretty amazing. They officially proposed that partially hydrogenated oils (PHO), also known as artificial trans fat, should not be “generally recognized as safe” for use in food. This led many restaurants and food manufactures to stop using partially hydrogenated vegetable oil in their products. Instead, they switched to using trans fat-free oil in their recipes. Cooking with the lighter trans fat-free oil, according to a new study, may not pose as much of a threat to our health. The study’s co-author, Leah Cahill, also believes that cooking with lighter oil may limit exposure to unhealthy compounds.
When foods are fried in hydrogenated vegetable oil, the chemical composition of oil is changed. The foods will then absorb the oil's new fatty acids along with other unhealthy compounds, Time reported. This is what causes weight gain, dangerous cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and higher levels of oxidative stress. When combined, these factors contribute to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. A study based on data from 100,000 individuals found that eating fried food four to six times a week increased a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 39 percent, and increased their risk of heart disease by 23 percent.
It isn’t difficult to find trans fat-free cooking oils. Some of the most common of these are canola oil, corn oil, olive oil, and sunflower oil. To avoid trans fats in products you purchase at the supermarket, make sure you read the label. If you see the phrase “partially hydrogenated [vegetable] oil," you may want to steer away, according to the American Heart Association. Trans fat-free doesn’t automatically mean that something is necessarily healthy. It is important to consider the dish’s overall nutrient and vitamin content to accurately determine how good for you it may be. The study’s author explained how, at this point, it is impossible to truly determine which fried foods are truly safe. “I wish I could give more specific recommendations when it comes to healthy cooking oils. But our study is really a first take, and we need to know more before we can say what’s safe,” Cahill told Time. Your best bet at enjoying fried foods while still keeping a healthy body is to practice moderation. Limit the overall amount of fried foods you eat, regardless of what they are cooked in.
Source: Cahill LE, Pan A, Chiuve SE, et al. Fried-food consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease: a prospective study in 2 cohorts of US women and men. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2014.