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Reusing Cooking Oil Increases Blood Pressure

Health experts say that different types of cooking oils are better for you than others, and a new study suggests that the number of times you reuse cooking oils can also affect your health.

Spanish researchers found that people whose kitchens contained any type of oil that had been reused many times over were more likely to have high blood pressure than people whose cooking oils were changed more frequently.

People who ate foods cooked with sunflower oil also showed a higher risk of high blood pressure, while consuming more olive oil appeared to protect people from high blood pressure.

The researchers recommend that people cook with olive oil whenever possible, and discard any oils after using them up to two or three times.

Although olive oil is generally considered to be a healthy addition to meals, the findings suggest that repeatedly reusing the oil in cooking may invalidate its favorable effects on health.

Followers of the Mediterranean diet often use an "oil bath," or deep fryer, to fry foods. However, when the same pot of oil is repeatedly reheated, the oils begin to degrade, releasing toxic substances known as polymers and polar compounds that can become absorbed by food.

The more polar compounds and polymers present in oil samples taken from a participant's house -- a sign the oil had been reused repeatedly -- the more likely it was that participant had high blood pressure.

Our recommendations:

  1. NEVER re-use cooking oil, and NEVER deep-fry your foods.
  2. When you are eating out, be sure to avoid deep-fried foods such as French fries. You can be assured that restaurants re-use their cooking oil many times.
  3. When cooking with oil, use low heat.

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, December 2003