“Would you like Fries with that?”
- Fried Potatoes May Increase Your Risk of Death
McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD) has sold millions more fries each year with the simple question, “Would you like fries with that?”
This simple technique has contributed to ever increasing waistlines for their customers. Now, researchers have found those who eat fried potatoes 2 or more times each week may 2X their risk of death from all causes.
Eating potatoes that were not fried was not linked to an increase in mortality risk according to the researchers. The authors had been tracking nearly 4,400 people over 8 years to study the effects of osteoarthritis when they decided to include an evaluation of the participants’ intake of potatoes and the impact it had on their lives.
In analyzing the data from the study, the researchers found that people who ate fried potatoes had double the risk of death during the study. Fried potatoes included french fries, hash browns and potato chips. Any preparation of potatoes that required frying was included in the fried potato category in the study.
The data from the study was observational, which presents challenges to extrapolating the results. The gold standard for medical research is randomly controlled experimental studies. These are often costly, while observational studies can be completed more economically.
However, observational studies may not enable researchers to accurately link cause and effect.
The study could correlate french fries with an increased risk of death, but the researchers could not assume that french fries caused the death. The researchers tried to control for variables, but as this was an observational study, other factors that may have been involved could have been missed.
However, while this type of study precluded the ability to establish a link between an increased intake of french fries and death, performing a controlled study would be unethical as the researchers would have to ask participants to increase their consumption and then measure risk of death.
In Y 2014, Americans ate an average of 112 pounds of potatoes each year; 33 pounds were fresh potatoes and 78 pounds were processed. The potential danger of eating pounds of fried potatoes is generated by acrylamide, a chemical produced when the starchy potato is fried at high temperatures.
Acrylamide, a byproduct of processing, is 1 of the most hazardous ingredients found in potato chips, hash browns and french fries. The browning process is what produces the chemical, so boiling, baking and steaming does not create it.
Beginning in Y 2013, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended Americans reduce the amount of browned and overcooked foods that may be high in acrylamide.
The FDA continues to recommend people cut back on the amount of foods high in acrylamide, as the chemical has been shown to cause cancer in animals and may also be responsible for causing cancer in humans.
Acrylamide is also found in coffee, cereals, crackers, breads and dried fruit, to name a few. In fact, it may be found in up to 40% of calories eaten each day.
In a study evaluating the amount of acrylamide found in chips, researchers found levels over the upper limit set by the EU in 16 of the 92 brands tested.
Currently, the EU set the upper limit at 1,000 micrograms per kilogram (mcg/kg) for crisps and they are considering lowering that benchmark to 750 mcg/kg, as acrylamide has been demonstrated and identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a cancer risk.
Although scientists knew the chemical was present in plastics and water treatment facilities, it was not until Y 2002 that scientists discovered it was present in foods. While acrylamide is a known carcinogen, links have been found between acrylamide-hemoglobin levels and estrogen receptor positive breast cancer.
Higher levels of dietary acrylamide have also been linked to an increased risk of postmenopausal endometrial and ovarian cancer.
Storing starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, in the refrigerator increases the amount of acrylamide produced if you do cook them at high heat or brown them. The process of increasing the amount of sugar in the potato that then produces more acrylamide during cooking is called “cold sweetening.” Instead, raw potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark place above 42 F (6 C).
Acrylamide exposure is not the only risk associated with fried potatoes. Trans fat products are often used to fry the potatoes and chips, adding another layer of risk.
There are types of trans fats;
- Is made by hydrogenating vegetable oil in a chemical process and.
- Is found in natural meat products and has no harmful effects on our health.
Processed trans fats have been linked to heart disease, insulin sensitivity, with type 2 diabetes, inflammation,damage to the lining of our blood vessels and cancer.
The best potato choice are sweet potatoes. While they share the same name, they do not come from the same family of plants and have many more health benefits than the standard white potato you find in french fries, hash browns and mashed potatoes.
Both white and sweet potatoes have the same number of grams of carbohydrates, but sweet potatoes have more than 2X the amount of fiber, thereby reducing the glycemic load on the body.
Eat healthy, Be health, Love lively
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