New research published in Nature Scientific Reports has identified some of the impacts of different cooking methods on metabolic health and inflammation.
The team of Spanish researchers studied how eating food raw compared with boiling, roasting, pan-frying, frying, toasting, sautéing and stewing food affects renal function, inflammation or alters other relevant biomarkers.
“Cooking methods have hardly been explored using population data,” they added. “Cooking methods have mostly been addressed when studying their effects on physicochemical characteristics of foods or bioavailability of nutrients.”
The cross-sectional study conducted on almost 2,500 Spanish residents over 65 years of age showed trends, such as better health outcomes from eating larger quantities of raw or pan-fried food.
The researchers also stressed the disadvantages of cooking with vegetable oils – though notably not olive oil– at high temperatures.
In their study, researchers found that four different cooking methods – raw, boiling, pan-frying and toasting – corresponded with beneficial effects on several inflammatory markers, as well as improved kidney function, thyroid hormone balances and vitamin D levels.
None of the cooking methods, including frying food, showed significant detrimental associations for the inflammatory and metabolic biomarkers the researchers assessed.
“Our study is a first approach to the effect of cooking methods on health,” Rodríguez-Ayala and Guallar-Castillón said. “Therefore, with the currently available information, recommendations to avoid certain cooking methods cannot be made. However, cooking methods that do not include adding oils heated to high temperatures are safe and can potentially be associated with health benefits.”
“In our population, no harmful effect of fried food consumption was observed, possibly because olive oil is the main source of fat for frying in Spain.”
“Olive oil is considered very stable when heated at high temperatures and is also rich in antioxidants and flavonoids,” they added. “Other added oils or fats have not shown these properties. Therefore, the results could vary in populations using other oils or fats for cooking.”
“In Spain, olive oil consumption might exert a positive influence on health, which could influence to some degree the effect on the healthiness of different cooking methods,” the researchers continued.“Undoubtedly, knowing what cooking methods could be included as healthy eating habits is an essential part of the prevention and management of chronic conditions that are related to diet,” they concluded. “A new field of dietary pre