Fried foods are crispy, crunchy, and very palatable but consuming too many fried foods has shown to lead to considerable morbidity. Various studies have shown that eating fried foods puts you at substantial risk of developing chronic health conditions like obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart diseases.
While weight gain cannot be considered dangerous in isolation, heightened BMI has been attributed to the development of various chronic health conditions. Multiple studies have shown a positive association between intake of fried food and the development of obesity.
Fried foods contain higher amounts of calories compared to non-fried foods because the food absorbs oils and fats. Eating too much-fried food without exercising can lead to considerable calorie excess in your body which causes significant weight gain. Also, the trans-fats present in certain fried foods affect the hormone Leptin that is responsible for regulating appetite and fat storage. This can lead to an increase in weight.
Frequent consumption of fried foods has been linked to insulin resistance, the mechanism for the development of Type-2 diabetes. The more you take fried foods the more you are at risk of developing Diabetes. Obesity is also a known causative factor for the development of Type-2 diabetes.
Excess intake of fried food has been linked to an increase in blood pressure, decreased levels of good cholesterol (HDL), increased levels of bad cholesterol (LDL), and diabetes, all of which are known risk factors for the development of heart disease. Results from two large observational studies have shown the risk of heart disease increases when the frequency of eating fried food increases. Eating healthy fruits and vegetables and non-processed foods has shown benefits in reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Research published in the journal Heart has shown there is a 22% increase in coronary artery disease in people consuming an excess of fried foods, 28% increased risk of stroke and 37% increased risk of heart failure.
It’s Connection to the harmful Acrylamide
When foods are fried or cooked at a high-temperature asparagine- an amino acid present in foods react with sugar to form acrylamide. The darker fried food becomes the more acrylamide it has.
Acrylamide is a harmful chemical that has been shown to cause cancer in various animal studies. In human models, too, modest evidence has been shown to link acrylamide intake with kidney, ovarian, and endometrial cancers. Intake of a moderate amount of acrylamide-containing foods, if you are a healthy person, may not be that harmful but if you have a positive history of cancer in your family you should keep in check the amounts of fried food you take. More studies are however required for concrete evidence to link cancers with fried food intake.
Fried foods are high in calories. Cooking fried foods is usually cumbersome and messy at home, so people opt to go to restaurants to satisfy their cravings. However, the practice of reusing cooking oils and putting too much salt for taste in restaurants may make fried foods worse than they already are. You should limit the intake of fried foods, even when you are eating fried food, it is better that you cook it at home as you can control the amount and type of oil used.
Don’t overcook your food till they are brown. This helps reduce the levels of potential carcinogen- acrylamide. Store potatoes at room temperature as refrigerated potatoes produce more sugar which can lead to more acrylamide production.
Never reuse oils for cooking food. Once you are done frying soak excess oil off the food using paper towels. Always check the label of cooking oil in its packaging. Avoid using cooking oils with trans- fats and saturated fats. Use liquid oils for frying as they contain large quantities of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. These are considered healthy fats. Coconut, olive, and avocado oils are all good choices. These oils are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy heart.
Alternative Cooking methods
As using harmful oils or reusing them can make fried foods worse than they already are alternative methods of cooking can be tried to reduce risks associated with fried foods, yet retain the taste and texture.
Some alternative methods of cooking are:
- Oven-frying method: In this method, the foods are baked at a very high temperature. This gives foods a crispy texture without requiring much oil or requiring no oil at all.
- Air-Frying method: In this method food is fried with a hot air fryer. Hot air fryers circulate extremely hot air around the food and make the food crispy from the outside. However, the moisture of the food is retained inside. The taste is similar to traditional methods but the use of oil is substantially reduced.