All good things come to an end, and that includes our trust in french fries. Our favourite, crispy potato snack was under the scanner of health scientists for the longest time due to its alleged cancer-causing properties. It turns out, that an 8-year-long study  published this week in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has confirmed our worst fears by stating that deep fried potatoes can indeed kill you. The study observed 4,400 participants between the ages of 49 and 79 for eight years, and 236 of those participants died!
The purpose of the investigation was to ascertain whether potato consumption (boiled and fried potatoes) is associated with early deaths among North American subjects. The longitudinal analysis of the participants was based on their potato consumption, both boiled and fried potatoes. The ones who died were known to have friend potato dishes which included french fries and hash browns. These subjects were known to consume fried potatoes like french fries two-three times in a week. The study also observed that eating unfried potatoes was not associated with increased mortality risk. Read: Why you shouldn’t eat junk food.
Acrylamide, a chemical that is formed when some starchy foodstuffs like potatoes and bread are heated higher than 120o C , has long been considered a carcinogen by health scientists. The chemical was first discovered in 2002 , and it wasn’t found in foodstuffs that were boiled or were not heated. Interestingly, the level of acrylamide in the food keeps rising as you heat it. 
Where does this leave us? Should we say bye bye to our favourite snack forever? Well, yes; at least to the store-bought french fries says dietician and nutrition consultant Ranjani Raman, founder, Nutrilife. “It’s better to avoid french fries from burger joints and restaurants since they have no nutritional value. The commercially-prepared french fries are pre-cooked, frozen and often contain unhealthy amounts of sodium. Chain restaurants often fry them in hydrogenated vegetable oil that contains the unhealthy transfats. They rarely use fresh oil; instead, they reuse the same oil over and over again,” says Ranjani.
“However, potatoes by themselves are not bad. You can eat the boiled ones. You can even prepare french fries at home, using good oil and fresh potatoes. Occasional indulgence as long as it is cooked under your supervision is fine,” she says.
1. Veronese, N., Stubbs, B., Noale, M., Solmi, M., Vaona, A., Demurtas, J., … & Maggi, S. (2017). Fried potato consumption is associated with elevated mortality: an 8-y longitudinal cohort study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, ajcn154872.
2. Tareke, E., Rydberg, P., Karlsson, P., Eriksson, S., & Törnqvist, M. (2002). Analysis of acrylamide, a carcinogen formed in heated foodstuffs. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 50(17), 4998-5006.
3. Jung, M. Y., Choi, D. S., & Ju, J. W. (2003). A novel technique for limitation of acrylamide formation in fried and baked corn chips and French fries. Journal of Food Science, 68(4), 1287-1290.
Published: June 15, 2017 12:31 pm