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Fermented, not fried

AFP Relaxnews
AFP Relaxnews2/10/2021 6:0 AM GMT+08  • 4 min read
Fermented, not fried
Sought-after by foodies, these dishes and drinks have led to renewed interest in fermentation.
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Ditch the oily food and join in the fermented food movement

From gherkins, cabbage and garlic, to kimchi, kefir and kombucha, fermented foods are trending. At first glance, leaving foods to ferment in their juices may not seem so appetising.

Yet, packed with probiotics, these foodstuffs can boost our gut flora and health, thanks to their micro-organisms. Fermenting foods is all about preserving “good” bacteria, rather than the “bad” bacteria that break down foods.

So, rather than rotting, the foodstuff — deprived of oxygen — develops nutritional virtues that are beneficial for gut flora and rich in probiotics.

Our diets can now be enriched with easier access to foodstuffs like kimchi, a Korean condiment made with chili pepper and vegetables soaked in brine; kombucha, the tea-based fermented drink; or its Caucasian cousin, kefir.

Sought-after by foodies, these dishes and drinks have led to renewed interest in fermentation. They have taken the world by storm, appearing on restaurant menus, in small food stores and even on social media.

On TikTok, for example, many user accounts are sharing tips, tricks and recipes for fermented foods, with over 253,000 views and counting.

The most basic way to get started is to peel any vegetable, put it in a jar, add some salt or some yeast, and leave it to ferment for three weeks at room temperature before eating.

And, as an added bonus, the action of bacteria even makes some vegetables change color. Garlic, for example, turns green! Yum!

Consume fried foods in moderation

The more fried chicken, fish, and potatoes you eat, the more likely you are to develop serious heart disease in the long term.

That’s according to a new scientific investigation, based on a meta-analysis of nearly 20 studies showing that fried foods are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. It’s often believed that certain foods, even though they are considered harmful to health, are safe when eaten in moderation. But this new study warns of the harmful effects of fried foods on the heart and arteries, even in small portions.

However, the study does have some limitations, as the researchers themselves point out. For example, the mechanism behind the impact of these foods on the development of cardiovascular disease is not entirely clear, though there are some hypotheses. Scientists trawled through several research databases to gather relevant studies on the subject up to April 2020. They then gathered data from 17 studies, involving a total of 562,445 participants and 36,727 major cardiovascular events such as heart attack or stroke, as well as data from six studies, involving 754,873 participants and 85,906 deaths over an average surveillance period of 9.5 years, to assess the potential link between eating fried foods and deaths from cardiovascular disease or other causes.

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Published in the journal Heart, their analysis showed a 28% increased risk of major cardiovascular events among those who ate the most fried foods per week compared to those who ate the least.

The risk increased by 22% for coronary heart disease and 37% for heart failure. The researchers also found that each additional weekly serving of 114g of fried food increased the risk of major cardiovascular events by 3%, the risk of coronary heart disease by 2%, and the risk of heart failure by 12%.

The researchers note, however, that no association has been established between deaths, whether from cardiovascular disease or other causes, and the consumption of fried foods.

They also caution that the studies included in this meta-analysis were all based on memory, which was one of the limitations of the investigation. Another limitation is that researchers are not yet able to scientifically demonstrate how fried foods actually influence the development of cardiovascular disease.

They are suggesting some leads, however, such as the fact that these foods generate harmful trans fatty acids, stimulate the production of chemical byproducts involved in the body’s inflammatory response, and are generally high in added salt — three things that could explain their impact on the heart.

As a result of this study, several UK-based scientists agreed that these findings were consistent with health guidelines encouraging individuals to reduce their consumption of such foods, but could not constitute “definitive evidence” as to their impact on cardiovascular health. Therefore, caution should be exercised.

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