MADRID, SPAIN — A study appearing on-line Jan. 24 in the British Medical Journal found the consumption of fried foods was not associated with coronary heart disease or with all cause mortality in Spain, a Mediterranean country where olive oil or sunflower oil is used for frying.

The study used the Spanish cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. It involved 40,757 adults between the ages of 29 and 69 who were free of coronary heart disease at baseline. Researchers used interviews at recruitment to obtain information on demographic variables, educational levels, smoking and physical activity.

Median follow-up was 11 years, and follow-up occurred until the end of 2004. During the study, there were 606 coronary heart disease events while 1,135 deaths from all causes occurred.

Researchers divided people in the study into groups based on the amount of fried food consumed.

Compared with being in the first (lowest) quarter of fried food consumption, the multivariate hazard ratio of coronary heart disease was 1.15 in the second quarter, 1.07 in the third quarter and 1.08 in the fourth quarter. The results did not vary between those who used olive oil for frying and those who used sunflower oil. No association was observed between fried food consumption and all cause mortality.

People in the study consumed on average 138 grams of fried foods a day, which included 14 grams of oil used for frying. About 7% of the food consumed was fried. Sixty-two per cent of the people used olive oil for frying while the rest used sunflower oil or other vegetable oils. Of the total amount of fried food consumed daily, 24%, or 34 grams, was fish, 22%, or 31 grams, was meat, 21%, or 30 grams, was potatoes and 11%, or 15 grams, was eggs. The study’s authors said consumption of fried snacks high in salt is fairly low in Spain when compared to other countries such as the United States.

Pilar Guallar-Castillon, an associate professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health, School of Medicine at the Autonomous University of Madrid, was one of the study’s leaders. Other researchers included epidemiologists and other professors.