One of the curses of humanity is that a lot of the best things in life aren’t good for us, specifically food.
OK, the truth is that our bodies are probably conditioned to prefer foods we grew up eating, so what I consider the best foods is subjective. To this day, I often enjoy box cakes over bakery bought because it’s all I had as a kid.
The food item I loved as a kid, that still gets me in trouble with my health, is French fries. The golden, fried, salted potatoes are so good, but so bad for me.
But are they really that bad?
In 2017, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition released a study that followed 4,440 adults aged 45-79 for eight years and their potato consumption.
While the study found that a higher potato consumption wasn’t associated with higher risk of death, eating fried potatoes 2-3 times a week doubled the risk of death.
The study says French fries and fried potatoes usually contain high amounts of dietary fat, including trans fat, and added salt, which may increase the risk of death, particularly of cardiovascular disease as well as developing other chronic diseases.
Another reason the study provides for why fried potatoes have a higher health risk include what consuming fried potatoes says about a person’s dietary habits. Basically, if a person consumes fried potatoes more frequently, they probably also have an increased consumption of processed red meat, salty foods and sugary beverages.
But if that last one’s true, I don’t think the risk can be solely blamed on a person consuming French fries.
In an article titled “In Dense of French Fries,” on the Harvard Health Blog, Dr. Robert H. Shmerling says that even with the health risks, it doesn’t mean you have to swear off fried potatoes.
The reason he gives is that the 2017 study says the risk is in consuming French fries two or more times a week. So, there shouldn’t be as much of a problem with eating them once per week or less. He also says that portion size matters. A serving size is just 10-15 fries, which I find kind of horrifying since pretty much all eating establishments go above and beyond that.
Plus, there’s always the option of baking fries, which is healthier and something I plan to try soon.
Before I read the study, I had no clue eating French fries as often as I do was such a damper on my health. I only knew they were bad for me — the same way I know a cookie is bad for me.
I think part of my problem was that fries are such a readily available side dish. They are offered with a majority of entrees at fast food and American-cuisine restaurants, and honestly it’s a bit weird if one of those places doesn’t have them on the menu.
Knowing how bad French fries can potentially be for a person makes me want to eat them less, but at the same time say, “OK, and?” because if we really want to look into what we’re eating on a daily basis, most of it isn’t “good” for you if it’s not fresh and prepared healthily.
So “OK in moderation” will be my new slogan when it comes to fries. And if I’m embarrassingly honest, that won’t be easy. French fries are my go-to side item for almost every meal I eat outside of the house because I know I can rely on them for tasting good.
But if you’re going to have something in moderation, you have to make sure it’s the best. From now on I’ll try to order fries at only the restaurant I know to have, in my opinion, the best. Locally, those places include Gatlin’s BBQ, 3510 Ella Blvd.; La Lucha, 1801 N. Shepherd Dr.; Common Bond Café & Bakery, 449 W. 19th St. Ste. B; The Burger Joint, 2002 N. Shepherd Dr.; and Hopdoddy, 449 W. 19th St. Ste. D. All simple, but worth the indulgence — once in a while.