Researchers have good news for French fry lovers and donut enthusiasts alike. Fried foods may not be as unhealthy as previously believed. It may simply depend on the type of oil used while the food is being fried.
This tid-bit of information comes after researchers in Spain followed 40,000 people for 14 years and documented their eating habits along the way. After the study, they concluded that the amount of oil consumed doesn't matter when it comes to heart disease. However, the type of oil matters a great deal. Healthier oils, such as olive oil and sunflower oil, are the most popular frying oils in Spain, unlike in the United States, where we prefer to fry our foods in butter, lard and palm oil.
Olive oil and sunflower oil can both benefit the body in many ways.
Olive oil contains "good" fats that work together to fight heart disease, rather than cause it.
Photo by ozium/Courtesy Flickr
Olive oil is actually very high in fat—good fat, that is. These good fats are called monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and are considered healthy dietary fats. Researchers have found that these healthy fats may benefit insulin levels and aid in blood sugar control. Studies have shown that consuming olive oil may lower your risk of heart disease and lower your total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. Olive oil has also been shown to help normalize blood clotting and promote healthy digestion, and recent research has even linked it to cancer prevention.
Consuming sunflower oil can result in similar benefits. Sunflower oil contains a mixture of mono- and polyunsaturated fats, which are both “good” fats, that can help protect the cardiovascular system in the body. In addition, sunflower oil is rich is omega-6 fatty acids, which play a key role in brain function, stimulate hair and skin growth, help maintain bone health and regulate metabolism. Omega-6 fatty acids also aid in maintaining the reproductive system.
Of course, it’s important to remember that even though these healthy oils do offer a plethora of health benefits, they are still high in fat and should only be used sparingly. So, always use them as a substitute for butter and lard, rather than in addition to.