The risk rises with each additional 4-ounce serving per week, a research team in China found.
For the study, the investigators analyzed 19 previously published studies. They combined data from 17 studies, involving more than 560,000 people with nearly 37,000 major cardiovascular events, such as heart attack or stroke.
The researchers also used data from six studies, involving more than 750,000 participants and nearly 86,000 deaths over an average of 10 years.
The study findings showed that compared with those who ate the lowest amount of fried food per week, those who ate the most had a 28% greater risk of major cardiovascular events, a 22% higher risk of heart disease and a 37% higher risk of heart failure.
These risks substantially increased by 3%, 2% and 12%, respectively, with each additional 4-ounce weekly serving, according to Pei Qin, of Shenzhen University Health Science Center, in Guangdong, China, and colleagues.
The report was published online Jan. 19 in the journal Heart.
How fried foods might increase the development of cardiovascular disease isn't clear, but several explanations are possible, the study authors noted in a journal news release.
Fried foods contain harmful trans fatty acids from the hydrogenated vegetable oils often used to cook them, and frying also increases the production of chemical byproducts involved in an inflammatory response. In addition, foods high in salt, such as fried chicken and French fries, are often served with sugar-sweetened drinks, particularly in fast-food restaurants, the researchers said.
For more on cardiovascular disease, head to the American Heart Association.
SOURCE: BMJ, news release, Jan. 19, 2021