French Fries - Health Aspects

Health Aspects

French fries can contain a large amount of fat from frying. For example, fat accounts for 45% of the caloric value of French fries at McDonalds in the United States; since raw potatoes are virtually fat-free, almost all of it comes from the cooking oil that was absorbed by potatoes while frying. A 13 year long observation performed by the University of Maastricht, the Netherlands, on 120,000 subjects between 55 and 70, has shown that increased intake of acrylamide (formed when potatoes are baked or fried) is correlated with a 60% higher rate of kidney cancer. However, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, found no association between the consumption of foods high in acrylamide and increased risk of three forms of cancer: bladder, large bowel and kidney.

Frying French fries in beef tallow, lard, or other animal fats adds saturated fat to the diet. Replacing animal fats with tropical vegetable-oils, such as palm oil, simply substitutes one saturated fat for another. Replacing animal fats with partially hydrogenated oil reduces cholesterol but adds trans fat, which has been shown to both raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol. Canola/Rapeseed oil, or sunflower-seed oil are also used, as are mixes of vegetable oils, but beef tallow is generally more popular, especially amongst fast food outlets that use communal oil baths. Many restaurants now advertise their use of unsaturated oils. Five Guys and Chick-fil-A, for example, both advertise that their fries are prepared in peanut oil, while In-N-Out advertises that their fries are made using vegetable oil.

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