What's the difference between frying and deep-frying? Not much. The nutrition of your food depends more on the kind of oil you choose, if you use batter and how much oil you put in the pan.
The number of calories added to a food in the frying process varies depending on several factors. Up to 75 percent of a fried food's calories come from fat.
Choose a Frying Method
Have you ever wondered how fried foods get the crispy exterior? A 2013 review in the Archives of Latin American Nutrition explains that deep-fried foods lose a lot of moisture and take on fat in its place. This process not only gives fried food its texture but also adds plenty of calories.
According to the same review, up to 75 percent of the calories in fried food come from fat, most of which it takes on in the frying process. Understandably, you may look to pan-frying as an alternative to deep-frying. For example, you may wish to pan-fry breaded chicken to get the crispness of deep-fried chicken.
The American Heart Association recommends sauteing instead. This method uses a small amount of oil or low-calorie liquid like vegetable broth. Another low-calorie alternative cooking method is air-frying. The Cleveland Clinic reports that using an air-fryer can reduce your overall caloric intake by up to 80 percent.
Oils for Frying
So, if pan-frying and deep-frying both add calories, what's the difference between frying and deep-frying? The most significant difference in the number of calories lies in the amount of oils used. According to the USDA, calorie counts in conventional deep-frying oils include:
Depending on what you deep-fry and how much you eat in a sitting, the deep-frying process could add several hundred calories to your day's intake. Some people also use vegetable oil or sunflower oil for fried foods.
When you pan-fry something at home, you may use different oils that have the following calorie counts:
If you you use too much of these oils in the pan-frying process, you may end up adding as many calories as deep-frying. At that point, what's the difference between frying and deep-frying?
Other Health Considerations
When it comes to deep-fried chicken, calories are not the only part of the nutrition to consider. If you have ever noticed indigestion and discomfort after a meal, you're not alone. Fried foods can make indigestion worse, but that's just the beginning of the health effects.
A January 2019 article in the BMJ studied the effects of fried food consumption on more than 100,000 women. The study found that eating more fried foods correlated to an increased chance of dying from cancer or heart disease.
Read more: 12 Dangers of Eating Too Much Fat
However, fried foods made in certain oils are healthier than others. The American Heart Association recommends oils with less saturated fat, particularly those with fewer than 4 grams of saturated fat in each tablespoon.
The Cleveland Clinic recommends olive oil, which can balance cholesterol levels. Olive oil also has a lower oxidation level, which means fewer cancer-causing free radicals. No matter what type of oil you choose, it's important to make sure it's fresh, as old oils can contain more free radicals.
- Archives of Latin American Nutrition: "Changes in Food Caused by Deep Fat Frying – A Review"
- American Heart Association: "Don't Fry! Give Healthy Cooking Methods a Try"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Air-Frying: Is It As Healthy As You Think?"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Peanut Oil"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Soybean Oil"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Canola Oil"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Olive Oil"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Avocado Oil"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Coconut Oil"
- BMJ: "Association of Fried Food Consumption With All Cause, Cardiovascular, and Cancer Mortality: Prospective Cohort Study"
- American Heart Association: "Healthy Cooking Oils"
- Cleveland Clinic: "7 Things You Should Know About Cooking With Oil"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Corn Oil"