The results of a recent study of 15,300 male doctors found that eating fried foods might be linked to heart failure.

Skip fried foods to prevent heart failure


Heart failure sounds pretty serious, doesn’t it? And it is a serious progressive heart condition.

The heart normally pumps well to get oxygen-rich blood throughout our body all day long, day in and day out. But the heart can become damaged from a variety of reasons – perhaps from uncontrolled high blood pressure or smoking -  and thus is unable to pump well. It’s one of the most common reasons for hospitalizations in people 65 years and older.

Common symptoms of heart failure include fatigue, shortness of breath, lots of coughing from fluid build-up in the lungs, swelling in feet, ankles and legs as well as loss of appetite.

The results of a Harvard study of 15,300 male doctors (average age was 66 years at the start of the 10-year study) found that eating fried foods might be linked to heart failure.

Study participants who ate fried foods one to three times per week had an 18 percent increased risk of developing heart failure. Those who had four to five servings per week experienced a 25 percent increased risk.

The heart researchers suggest forgoing fried foods most of the time:

  • Doughnuts and other fried pastries
  • Fries
  • Chips and other fried snack foods
  • Burgers

Healthy-heart options:

  • Prepare meats in ways other than frying: bake, broil, poach, grill, stew
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables every single day for vitamins, minerals and heart-protective phytochemicals
  • Enjoy whole-grain breads, cereals, rice, pasta and barley for excellent cholesterol-binding fiber
  • Use small amounts of healthy fats to add flavor to dishes: liquid oils such as olive and canola oils, avocado, mayonnaise and Miracle Whip

The results from this Harvard heart study remind us that lifestyle habits such as food choices have a huge impact on our health.

The American Heart Association suggests for heart failure prevention:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Be active every day
  • Eat a plant-based, healthy diet with limited fried foods
  • Keep your blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes well-managed

If you have heart failure, follow the advice of your doctor. This may include:

  • Frequent weights to keep an eye on fluid retention (this reflects the function and pumping action of the heart)
  • Tracking daily fluid intake
  • Getting plenty of rest 
  • Eating well with three healthy meals
  • Exercising as you are physically able 
  • Stopping the habit of smoking 
  • Reducing stress

Rita's recipes to help prevent heart failure:


About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.