Happy Monday!! Today's blog post comes from Environmental Intern Jasmine Jefferies. Enjoy!
Who doesn’t love potatoes? And who doesn’t love french fries? These fried potatoes are a fast food staple and you can get them just about anywhere (even all over the world). Many of us justify our choice of a side of fries by reasoning that potatoes are a vegetable, so they must be healthy, right? Yes, potatoes certainly have their benefits; they are low in fat and are a good source of Vitamin C, fiber, and potassium.Additionally, in their natural form, they are a whole food that naturally comes from the earth. But compared to other vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, these vegetables simply don’t stack up in terms of their nutrition.
So, let’s take a dive into the french fry and see why they simply don’t compare. When making a french fry, most of the time, the potatoes are peeled (meaning we lose the nutrients in the skin), then they are deep fried in oil, and topped with loads of salt, or other toppings such as cheese, meat or gravy. Now, this processing of a potato quickly turns this root vegetable into a fatty food item.
In fact, last year, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated that “Potatoes have a high glycemic index, which has been linked to an increase in obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The study found that, controlling for other risk factors, participants who ate fried potatoes two or three times a week were at a higher risk of mortality compared to those who ate potatoes that were not fried” (Christopher Mele).
Fried potato and processed potato products are extremely popular in the U.S. Typically these products are fast, cheap, easy, and they taste good. While you don’t have to avoid these potatoes entirely, there are some tips to make them a bit more healthy. For one, baked fries will save a lot of calories and fat, since the potato is not drowned in oil. Also, air fryers come in handy when looking for the classic texture of a french fry. With air fryers, you can use a little bit of oil, but even that is not necessary. At home, you can throw on various seasoning combinations such as garlic and herb, salt and pepper, or even paprika. This at-home method ensures that you know exactly what is going on your potatoes and how they are being cooked. Also be careful of any additional toppings and condiments, because these can add on calories and fat. While we know the french fry is not an ideal food to consume on a regular basis, you don’t have to avoid this food entirely. In moderation, you can enjoy some french fries. Risks associated with fries are still being researched. Therefore it is wise to limit consumption and make them a “once in a while’ indulgence, rather than a staple in your everyday diet.