Could too much of this food shorten your life?

Could too much of this food shorten your life?

Grilled, fried or baked?

The answer could affect your livelihood, at least according to one new study.

The research, published in the medical journal BMJ, examined data from a federally funded study that followed more than 100,000 women between the ages of 50 and 79 for two decades. Over the course of the study, the women were asked questions about their diets and other health issues they experienced. Researchers also examined their health data. During the 20 years they were followed, almost a third of the participants passed away from different ailments.

The findings?

Even when controlling for risk factors like obesity, exercise and smoking, among other factors, fried foods were independently associated with an increased risk of early death.

In fact, women who ate one or more servings of fried food a day had an eight percent higher risk of early death compared to their counterparts who didn’t eat fried food.

Fried chicken and fish were particularly linked to higher mortality rates from both a general cause of early death standpoint and death specific to cardiovascular factors. Women who ate one more serving of fried chicken had a 13 percent high risk compared to their counterparts who ate none.

While the results are not surprising to experts, they remain cautious.

“There are several limitations to this study; most importantly, it is an observational study of postmenopausal women who were recruited in 1990s and is based on questionnaires they completed,” says Dr. Neal Sawlani, a structural heart cardiologist with Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill. “Hence, it is not as rigorous as some of the clinical trials that are done which randomize patients to one diet versus another. Another limitation is the ability to account for other confounding variables that may influence the outcome. Finally, the researchers only found an association. It’s important to note that correlation does not equal causation.”

Still, Dr. Sawlani says there were some variables that reinforce the study findings.

“It’s not worth noting that they recruited a very large number of people which helps strength the study results,” he says. “Fried foods can be unhealthy because of the type of oil that is used to fry the foods. They are also high in fat content. Generally speaking, for a balanced heart healthy diet, I often recommend my patients try a Mediterranean diet or a plant-based diet, because there is good scientific data that shows the benefits of these diets on heart health.”

Concerned about your risk for heart disease? Take our Heart Health Assessment to estimate your risk, determine your controllable and uncontrollable risk factors and receive guidance on what to do next.

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About the Author

Jackie Hughes
Jackie Hughes

Jacqueline Hughes is a former manager, media relations at Advocate Aurora Health. Previously, she was the public affairs and marketing manager at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, IL. She earned her BA in psychology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Jackie has 10 plus years experience working in television and media and most recently worked at NBC 5 in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, going to the movies and spending time with her family.