Many of us eat fried food all the time, without giving it much thought. Frying food is a common cooking technique used around the world. We seem to have grown a fondness for fried food such as french fries, spring rolls, tonkatsu (fried breaded pork), mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, batter-battered fish, and more.
You will often see fried foods on the menu at restaurants and at fast-food joints. This is not surprising at all, because the cooking method of frying food is a fast and inexpensive way to prepare food. It’s good for the restaurant’s bottom line – but is it good for you?
Restaurants and fast food joints often recycle the oil to cook many batches of foods, which cuts down on costs, and that’s another reason so many fried foods are on the menu everywhere we go.
Many of us love the crunch of fried food and find it oddly comforting to eat. Unfortunately, fried foods are higher in calories and trans fats. As a result, it can escalate your bad cholesterol levels and adversely impact your cardiovascular health. Furthermore, studies show that re-used oil can be carcinogenic or cancer-causing. If that’s not enough to convince you to cut back on fried foods, check out the below compelling reasons why fried food is not the best fuel for your body.
Fried Food is Loaded With Calories
Frying food adds a lot more calories because of the fatty oil used for frying. To begin with, fried items are usually coated in starch and flour before frying to make them super crispy. Once they are submerged in oil, the food loses water and absorbs the oil. This is the culprit for the increased calorie content.
In general, fried foods have significantly more fat and calories than their non-fried counterparts. For example, a 100-gram potato that’s baked has 93 calories and 0 fat grams. Meanwhile, the same amount of potato made into fries has a whopping 319 calories and 17 fat grams. It’s clear how much of a difference a healthier cooking method makes.
Do you know what happens to your body when there’s too much fat and calories? Weight gain, of course. Don’t be surprised if you develop excess belly fat in the form of a spare tire around your middle if you consume a lot of fried food. Daily caloric intake matters because all the excess converts into stored fat in the body. Even if you exercise, you cannot outrun a bad diet.
It may take more time to cook for yourself and meal prep instead of buying fast, convenient fried foods on the go. However, it’s worth your time to do this. For the sake of your health, stick to grilled, boiled, baked, or stewed dishes, or use an air fryer.
Fried Food and its High Trans Fat Content
Fried foods are loaded with trans fats. They are formed when unsaturated fats undergo a chemical reaction called hydrogenation. Typically, food manufacturers hydrogenate fats with high pressure and infuse hydrogen to improve the food’s stability and extend shelf life. This process also occurs when oils reach super high temperatures during cooking.
Hence, frying changes the chemical structures of fats. When you cook food in super hot oil, expect more trans fat loaded into the dish. As a result, your body has a much harder time breaking down these fats. Excessive fats can lead to a lot of terrible health effects. Studies indicate that eating too much trans fat can result in an increased risk of health problems such as the following:
- Heart disease
To make matters worse, most fried foods in restaurants are cooked using cheap seed or vegetable oil. These types of oil already contain trans fats before they are even heated. And once you put over the flame to increase their temp for frying, the trans fat content increases. Moreover, re-used and re-heated oil, which is what’s done in commercial kitchens, further multiplies the trans fat content. This proves that consuming fried foods is just too risky, especially if you don’t eat fried foods in moderation.
Increased Exposure to Harmful Acrylamide
One of the biggest concerns about fried food deals with the increase of acrylamide. This harmful chemical usually forms when foods are cooked at very high temperatures like deep frying in very hot oil. Studies conducted on animals suggest that higher acrylamide levels in the body increase the risk of several types of cancer.
When you cook using very hot oil, the amino acid in food called asparagine reacts with carbs or sugars to produce acrylamide. This chemical forms a lot in fried foods, but it is very common in potatoes because they are starchy with high fructose and glucose.
On top of that, the longer you fry the food, the higher the acrylamide. Typically, the browner the food, the more acrylamide content you can expect. If you eat fried foods daily, this is a cause for concern. But if you practice moderation, you can safely enjoy your fried munchies.
That being said, if you have a family history of cancer, you may need to pay attention to your diet. If any of your relatives have been diagnosed with cancer, it means you could be carrying the gene, which increases your risk of acquiring the same disease. On that note, you must then be conscious of your fried food intake if you want to mitigate the onset of the disease.
Eating Fried Foods Impacts Your Confidence
As the popular expression goes, You are what you eat. Whatever you put in your mouth will manifest in your body. If you eat too much fried and fatty food, the excess fat you consume will make itself at home in your body. Apart from weight gain, you can expand in terms of inches as well. This may adversely impact your self-confidence. Eating fried food can also impact the health of your skin. Since your body will be filled with more toxins, part of it will seep out through your pores via sweat. Studies show that a high-fat diet can result in skin purging, with more blackheads, whiteheads, and acne. Too much fried food can also exacerbate psoriatic inflammation, with rough, red, and scaly patches on the skin.
Both of the aforementioned effects on the body should be enough motivation for you to limit your intake of fried foods. Remember, if you look healthy, you also feel healthier. Your physical health has a direct impact on your mental health because it affects your overall confidence.
Enjoying Fried Food with Safer Alternatives
If you truly love fried food, it would be much safer to make them at home in an air fryer or at least on your own stove with your own oil. Why? Because you can control the type of oil used. Oils are not created equal. Typically, most restaurants scrimp to cut on expenses and increase their profits. For this reason, many restaurants use the cheapest, less healthy oils to fry your food, which is not good for you.
When you prepare food at home, you can use healthier oils such as olive oil, avocado oil, or soybean oil. These variants are higher in omega-3 fatty acids, so they increase good cholesterol levels and protect your heart. On top of that, you can throw out the oils once used. It is safer to use a fresh batch of oil for each dish.
If you fry your food at home, don’t forget to soak up the excess oil by blotting it with paper towels before serving it. Make it a point to fry up until the golden brown stage only. Never cook it until it’s dark brown so that you cut down the acrylamide level.
Look into air fryers for healthier ways to enjoy the taste of fried food. Alternatively, you can also spritz your food with an olive oil spray, place it on a rack, and bake. Both methods will allow you to enjoy the taste and texture of fried food without the added fats, calories, and health risks associated with frying.
When it comes to eating fried food, if you get a craving for the real deal, it’s okay to indulge once in a while. Just don’t overdo it or binge, and try not to get into the habit of weekly trips to get fast food. Habitual consumption of these foods will set you on a path to chronic health problems. Moderation is the key to a truly healthy lifestyle. After all, you also don’t want to feel deprived, especially if you consider fried dishes like Southern Fried Chicken a comfort food you grew up eating. Simply tweak the preparation method and oil used to make it healthier.
The best way to avoid health problems associated with a poor diet is with preventive habits which include modifying your diet. Fried food may taste delicious, but ask yourself if it is truly worth it. Consider healthier alternatives to improve your longevity and quality of life. Get your personalized diet and nutrition reports from CircleDNA to find out the best diet for you, based on your DNA.