Harvard Health Letter

Healthier oils make fried food safer

Research clears vegetable oils, but use them wisely.

Fried food is usually near the top of a dietitian's no-no list, both to protect your cardiovascular health and to fight weight gain. But a recent Spanish study published in the journal BMJ suggests that fried foods' bad rap comes not from the fact that they are fried, but from the type of oils used in frying.

In the study, foods that were fried in healthy vegetable oils, such as olive oil, did not raise the risk of heart damage or clogged arteries. "Healthy oils can lower bad cholesterol, raise good cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and reduce the risk of cardiac arrhythmias," says Dr. Helen Delichatsios, an internist at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

In Spain, where the study was conducted, vegetable oils are used for frying. As a result, Dr. Delichatsios says, "the results of this study do not apply to most fried foods available in the U.S. population and other countries."

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