Cooking at High Temperatures May Increase Risk of Heart Disease

deep fried food being cooked at high temperaturesWhy do some ethnic groups have increased rates of heart disease? It may be related to food preparation.

This is according to a recent study published in the journal Nutrition that investigated one reason for increased rates of heart disease in South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Sri Lankan) populations living in South Asia and abroad. The researchers observed that known risk factors for heart disease did not explain why South Asians have increased rates of heart disease compared with other Asian populations, like the Chinese. They hypothesized that the method of cooking may be the key to understanding these differences.

Why? Cooking at temperatures above 150 degrees Celsius alters the chemical structure of the cooked food into what are called neoformed contaminants or NFCs. The NFC commonly known is trans-fatty acids. Human and animal studies have shown that NFCs increase the risk of heart disease.

South Asian cuisine is typically cooked at temperatures above 150 degrees Celsius and includes many roasted and fried foods. In fried foods, the oil is the culprit. The oils used in South Asian cooking include partially hydrogenated fats, and, as food cooks, trans-fatty acids are formed. If the oil is reused, a higher amount of trans-fatty acids are present.

Chinese cuisine, on the other hand, features more steamed, braised and boiled foods that are cooked at lower temperatures. This may explain some of the difference in rates of heart disease between South Asian and Chinese populations.

For people who don’t regularly eat South Asian or Chinese foods, this is a broader message about food preparation. It is well-known that deep-fried foods may negatively affect the heart, but this may now include foods that are roasted or grilled at high temperatures too.

What we eat affects our hearts. We are now learning that how we cook these foods may affect our hearts too.

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