Are Deep-Fried Foods Harmful to the Health?

French Fries In The Deep Fryer
French fries being removed from a deep fryer. (Image: Rena-Marie/iStock/Getty Images)

Deep-fried foods may be tasty, but they are definitely not healthy. Foods like french fries, onion rings, fried wontons and deep-fried candy bars offer little in the way of nutritional value while putting you at higher risk for certain health conditions. However, you don't necessarily have to give them up totally to have a healthy diet.

Nutrition Concerns

Deep-fried foods are usually high in fat, particularly the types of fats that are bad for your health. Many restaurants fry foods in oils containing trans fats, and since many deep-fried foods are coated in batter, they absorb more fat than they would without the batter coating. Because of the high fat content, they are also high in calories, making it more likely you will eat more calories than you need and possibly gain weight.

Health Risks

The saturated fat and trans fat in deep-fried foods increase your risk for high cholesterol and heart disease. If you eat a high-fat diet, you are also at higher risk for certain cancers and for obesity. Deep-fried foods also may contain acrylamide, a possible carcinogen, with foods fried at higher temperatures or for longer containing more than those fried for shorter times at lower temperatures.

Healthier Deep Fried Foods

If you can't give up fried foods, you can make them healthier. Use unsaturated oils to fry your foods, such as canola, corn, peanut, safflower, soybean or sunflower oil. Heat the oil to the proper temperature, as oil that isn't hot enough leads to increased fat absorption by the food. Make sure the oil returns to the right temperature in between each batch of food you fry in it.

Considerations

As long as your overall diet is low in fat, saturated fat and trans fat, you can eat deep-fried food in once in a while. Eat just a small amount of deep-fried food, and pair it with healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, that are low in calories. In a healthy diet, all foods are OK in moderation.

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