(AscendHealthy.com) – Golden and crispy on the outside, soft and starchy on the inside, a perfectly cooked French fry is one of those culinary marvels few people can pass up. It’s also the bane of most diets. Especially when we eat out, a side of fries is ready to crash just about any meal.
It’s no news this deep-fried food isn’t the healthiest choice out there, but most of us would still probably be surprised to find out just how bad for us it really is. Check out these reasons why it might be best to skip the fries and opt for an alternative side.
French Fries Are Linked to Diabetes and Heart Disease
Potatoes contain a lot of starch, and they’re high on the glycemic index, so even when they’re not fried, they can shift the overall healthiness of a meal. According to studies, people who eat seven or more servings of potatoes each week are 33% more likely to develop diabetes.
Even as few as three servings per week can have effects. When baked, boiled or mashed, potatoes raise diabetes risks by 4%; that number jumps to 19% when they’re in the form of French fries.
Fries are high in fat, making them a high-calorie food, so regular consumption can contribute to higher BMIs. They also contain higher ratios of unhealthy fat.
Add in their high average sodium content, and French fries become an undeniable threat to cardiovascular health. Research has found that consuming a medium order of French fries per week was linked to increased risks for heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and heart failure.
A Source of Hidden Chemicals and Toxins
It’s bad enough that French fries are loaded with unhealthy fats and other diet-busting ingredients, but they can also contain chemicals that blow all that nutrition info out of the water. One of them, acrylamide, is the product of cooking high-carb foods at high temperatures. Researchers believe this compound increases oxidative stress in the body, damaging DNA and increasing cancer risks. Studies on rodents have shown it may also contribute to lower birth weights and reduced brain size in offspring.
Fries that come in cardboard containers or paper serving bags usually also contain another set of chemicals called phthalates. Used in plastics and other industrial materials, phthalates make their way into foods via the packaging and containers in which they’re stored or processed.
People who eat fatty foods from restaurants and fast-food chains are more likely to have higher concentrations of these chemicals in their bodies, which experts believe can adversely affect the endocrine system. Research also suggests a connection between phthalates and increased insulin resistance, asthma and ADHD. Additionally, studies on mice have shown these chemicals may damage the liver and testes.
The best way to reduce all of the above risks is to minimize French fry intake, especially when eating outside the home. When at restaurants or fast food establishments, try to opt for healthier sides, such as fresh fruit, a side salad or steamed or grilled vegetables. If fries end up on the plate, Harvard Health suggests eating only 10 to 15 pieces, the actual recommended serving size.
When at home, reduce fat and acrylamide content in fries by baking or microwaving them instead of deep-frying. Blanching potato slices before frying them can also decrease the impact of the cooking process.
That side of fries might be delicious, but it may not be worth all the potential effects. We might not have to cut it out completely, however. Try making it a rare treat instead, one limited to a couple of times a month, and maintain a reasonable serving size. If we don’t make it a regular item, it might become more enjoyable when we decide to splurge.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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