The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition just released some really depressing news. According to a recent study, French fries can be deadly. In fact, they are so bad for you that they can double your risk of an early death if you eat them as often as two times per week.
And it’s not just French fries that are bad for you. In addition to the popular snack and side item, all other forms of fried potatoes can equally affect your health. This includes tater tots, potato chips, and hash browns, one of America’s favorite breakfast items.
This finding is a cause for concern for health experts around the world. In many countries, people are eating more and more fried potatoes. In America alone, people consume an average of over 100 pounds of potatoes per person a year. Of these potatoes, the vast majority are in the form of French fries.
The study analyzed the potato consumption of 4,440 participants over an eight-year period. Questionnaires asked participants about what types of potatoes they ate and how often they ate them. By the end of the study, 236 people had died. After controlling for other variables, like exercise, income, and race, the researchers determined that those who ate fried potatoes most often had a significantly increased death rate.
Thankfully, there was no increased risk of death associated with eating non-fried potatoes. Even though potatoes have been shunned by many due to the increased popularity of low-carb diets, spuds are actually quite healthy in their unprocessed forms. They are naturally low in fat, while being high in fiber, vitamin C and potassium. So there’s no need to stop eating baked, roasted, or scalloped potatoes.
Though the reasons for fried potatoes’ harmfulness is not completely understood yet, researchers believe there are several reasons why frying your spuds may not be the best idea. First, many fried potatoes are fried in oil that contains trans fats. These fats have long been known to increase levels of “bad” cholesterol in the body, which can lead to heart disease. Additionally, fried potatoes of all types are typically served with large amounts of salt, which can play a role in elevating blood pressure to unhealthy levels. Finally, people who eat multiple servings of fried potatoes every week may be engaging in other lifestyle factors that are known to play a role in causing early death, such as a sedentary lifestyle or being obese.
Despite the fact that fried potatoes are probably not the healthiest food choice, there is no need to panic. You don’t have to stop eating them altogether. The study only showed an increased risk of early death in those who ate them multiple times per week. You won’t die from eating French fries and potato chips in moderation. Eating your favorite fried potato snack a few times per month should not be harmful as long as the rest of your diet and lifestyle are healthy.