Fried foods affect your blood sugar because fat slows down digestion. When you eat simple carbohydrates, your body can quickly convert them into glucose and your blood sugar levels rise. Fried foods usually contain carbohydrates, but the fat slows digestion. Instead of your blood sugar rising immediately, you may see a higher glucose level a few hours later.
Digestion and Blood Sugar
The faster your body can digest food, the faster and higher your glucose levels rise. If glucose levels rise too quickly, your pancreas may produce too much insulin, setting up a cycle of high and low blood sugar that can lead to insulin resistance, a precursor to Type 2 diabetes. Simple carbohydrates, such as sugar, have the biggest impact on blood sugar levels. Complex carbs, such as fiber, help slow digestion and regulate glucose and insulin production. Any food that slows digestion, including fat and protein, slows glucose production.
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Fried Foods and Blood Sugar
Fried foods affect your blood sugar levels differently, depending on what food is fried. French fries raise blood sugar faster than fried chicken, especially if the chicken is not breaded because chicken is protein and potatoes are carbohydrates. According to the American Diabetes Association, glucose production depends on the following: the quantity of carbohydrates consumed, the type of sugar and starch in those carbs, whether the carbs are combined with fat and/or protein and the cooking process. Although the fat may slow down digestion, the nature of the fat in fried foods -- trans fats -- are very bad for diabetics.
Weight Gain and Insulin Resistance
Carbohydrates and protein have 4 calories per gram, but fat has 9 calories per gram. Fried foods are often very high in calories. For example, a 3-oz. grilled skinless chicken breast has less than 150 calories and 3 g of fat. Three oz. of fried chicken breast has more than 200 calories and 12 g of fat -- 25 percent more calories and 400 percent more fat. Eating more calories than you need can lead to weight gain, and excess body fat can interfere with your body's ability to use insulin effectively. It's insulin that moves glucose from your bloodstream into your cells. If your body doesn't use insulin efficiently, you can have chronic high blood sugar.
Fried foods contain trans fats, which are associated with elevated cholesterol levels and increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. Joy Bauer, R.D. and health expert for The "Today Show" suggests that trans fats be avoided entirely. Bauer says substituting unsaturated fats for trans fats lowers your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 40 percent and reduces your risk of heart disease by 53 percent.
Is This an Emergency?
- University of Illinois: Eating for Target Blood Glucose Levels
- American Diabetes Association; Evidence-Based Nutrition Principles and Recommendations for the Treatment and Prevention of Diabetes and Related Complications; January 2002
- JoyBauer.com; How Food Affects Type 2 Diabetes; 2011
- National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse; Insulin Resistance and Pre-Diabetes; October 2008