Good fats not so bad for you

By • Published: April 9th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

You have probably heard that cutting back on fried foods loaded with bad saturated fats and trans fats can help prevent many health problems, like obesity and heart disease. Despite the warnings, many Americans still like to munch on French fries, chips and just about anything fried.

Now, a new study offers good news to people who crave the crispy crunch and flavor of fried goodies. Researchers from Spain found no link between heart disease and foods fried in certain oils.

For 11 years, the scientists analyzed the cooking habits of 40,000 adults who did not have heart disease at the beginning of the study. They reviewed participants’ cooking methods and eating habits and made an interesting discovery: Eating foods cooked with olive oils and sunflower oils did not lead to heart disease or an increased risk of death.

Study participants used a Mediterranean cooking style, which relies on using smaller amounts of fresh olive and sunflower oils for frying. Cooks in the United States tend to fry with solid fat and re-used oils, which are less heart-healthy.

But don’t think that frying with olive oil gives you the green light to chow down on your favorite sizzling craving any time you want. Frying food with any oil increases the calorie count tremendously, which can lead to obesity and other health issues.

So, just remember, the next time you are confronted with the choice between a baked potato or French fries, you should probably still choose the baked potato. Those fries may look yummy, but chances are they were not cooked in a heart-friendly olive oil. But who knows, as news of the heart-healthy benefits of frying with olive oil spreads, maybe Mediterranean ways will make their way into the USA.