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French Fries and Their Impact on Your Health

Nothing beats the addictiveness of thin, crispy, and oh-so-indulgent French fries, which make us all melt at the sight of them. Deep-fried potato fritters have piqued the interest of food lovers across continents for ages. They are one of the most popular accompaniments to various foods like sandwiches and burgers. Many restaurants that serve french fries combine servings of fries with other foods, such as fried fish or cutlets. 

French fries can also be a satisfying snack on their own. French fries, slathered in ketchup, mayonnaise, or a variety of sauces and dips, are our go-to snack in good, bad, and ugly times. Furthermore, we have French fries because they are kid-friendly. The texture and the taste suit the palates of kids from all over the world.  

French Fries: The Origin

There have been numerous conflicting ideas about French fries. Also, France and Belgium are now in conflict about their origin as there are several stories and myths about the French Fries. Because the term “French” is in the name, many people believe that French cooks invented french fries. 

Experiments with fried potatoes first took place in Belgium in the late 1600s. Belgian villagers used to thinly slice their fish, fry it, and eat it as a snack. However, fishing becomes difficult for the residents during the winter when the river freezes. So what began as an experiment eventually led to the development of our favourite French fries. The locals around the river Muse took to the tuber and sliced and fried it the same way they fried their fish, giving birth to the first iteration of French Fries.

Then, American soldiers came across the fried delicacy during World War I and immediately fell in love with it. The item got its name “French” fries because French is the prevalent language in southern Belgium. As a result, the snack became quite popular and became one of Belgium’s national cuisines.

Many say that the French originated the fries in the late 18th century, over a century after Belgians claimed credit. Some argue that both countries originated the fries simultaneously and independently. Whatever the situation, we appreciate how popular this food has become. French fries have always delighted taste buds worldwide, whether with ketchup, mayonnaise, or malt vinegar.

French fries contain carbohydrates (mainly starch), protein from the potato, and fat absorbed during the deep-frying process. The food item also has sodium-containing salt as a surface seasoning. The nutritional value of french fries, according to USDA, is as follows:-

Energy: 196 kCalProtein: 1.93gFat: 13.1gCarbohydrate: 18.5gFibre: 1.6gSodium: 141mgPotassium: 401mgPhosphorus: 52mgVitamin C: 9.7mg

The nutrients you get from fries can vary depending on their preparation method. Because potato skins are known to have more nutrients, including potassium, fibre, and B vitamins, eating fries with the skins on may provide you with additional vitamins and minerals.

French Fries Varieties and Serving Methods

Everyone enjoys having a wide choice of options, and French fries are no exception. While fried, crispy, salty French fries are the most popular, many more variations are popular in different regions worldwide. These French Fries have a unique flavour and texture, yet they’re just as tasty as the classics. Here are some other types of French Fries that you should try.

Standard Cut

Standard Cut French fries are a well-liked, well-known, and widely available variety. They’re great with burgers or as a side dish with your favourite dip. The preparation of French Fries follows the dipping of deep-fried potatoes in salt. Parsley, garlic, and pepper are popular seasonings. They are also simple to cook at home.

Tornado Fries

South Koreans invented tornado fries as a street snack. They’re spiral-cut whole potatoes that have been deep-fried and coated with various seasonings such as cheese, honey, or onions. Sausages sometimes sandwich the fries in some variations.

Sweet Potato Fries

It is a sweet potato-based fries. They come in various shapes and sizes, including tater tots, waffles, and standard cuts. You may also dip them in marshmallow cream, honey, or sugar syrup to make them a dessert. Compared to white potatoes, they are fewer in carbohydrates and calories and contain more Vitamin A.

Potato Wedges

It is a skinned potato fry. These are huge fried and baked wedges. In Australia, they come with a serving of sweet chilli sauce and sour cream. “Jojo” fries are another name for them.

Shoestring

They are fried potatoes chopped into very thin long strips. In Cuban cuisine, they are known as Papas Julianas and are usually popular as a sandwich topper. To improve the flavour, you can add cheese and pepper.

Curly Fries

The curly fries’ most distinguishing feature is their spring-like form. The potatoes are chopped into them using a spiral slicer. “Suzi-Q Fries” or “Goldilocks Fries” are other names. They are breaded or seasoned.

Steak Fries

Steak Fries are thick-cut fries served with steak. These steak cakes, on the other hand, are made of steak. They’re versatile enough to go with a variety of recipes. They have a great weight, with crispy edges and a soft interior. They are simple to cook and require only a few seasonings.

Tater Tots

Tater Tots are a general word for small potato bites that originated in Ore-Ida. They are little cylindrical potatoes that have been grated and deep-fried in various oils. They’re crispy and light and usually eaten with ketchup and dips. They’re also available frozen and at supermarkets.

Waffle Fries

Waffle Fries are waffle-shaped fries with a lattice pattern. The holes in these fries allow them to fry more quickly and thoroughly.

Cheese Fries

Cheese fries are fried potatoes served with melted cheese. They’re more of an American fast-food phenomenon. Some fast-food establishments provide liquid cheese on top of the fries, while others fill shredded cheese on top of the crispy French fries. Mozzarella, Parmesan, and Swiss cheeses are all excellent choices.

White Idaho potatoes are famous for making fries. But some individuals make them with Yukon potatoes, sweet potatoes, or other kinds at home. As a result, the nutritional composition of commercially produced (frozen) French fries and fast food or restaurant french fries may differ.

Recipe to Prepare Healthy Version of French Fries at Home

Preparing french fries in your home is easy, using simple everyday ingredients. You can make tasty French fries for your family as an evening snack as the food item is very popular, especially among children. You can prepare them at your home by following the recipe mentioned below. 

Ingredients

Potatoes: 4 nos. (or more, depending on the quantity you need)Garlic powder: ¾ tspPaprika: ¼ to ½ tspRed chilli powder: ¼ cup (if you do not have or prefer instead of paprika)Salt: According to tasteOregano: According to taste

Procedure

Take the potatoes and peel them. Cut the peeled and washed potatoes into pieces that are about ¼ to ⅓ inches thick in the length that you prefer.After cutting them, transfer the pieces to a bowl and cover them in ice-cold water. You need to refrigerate them for one to two hours.  Once the time is up, take them out and drain all the water.Then, pour fresh, ice-cold water into it and rinse the sticks very well. Drain all the water and wipe the sticks well with a clean cloth. After cleaning them, transfer the sticks to a train to help them dry further. While the sticks dry up, put them in the air fryer for about 5 minutesAir-fry each batch of the sticks for about 3-5 minutes. Transfer the fried stickers to a perforated tray and allow them to cool off. After taking them out, add ingredients like garlic powder, paprika or red chilli powder, salt and oregano so that all the sticks get enough seasoning.Finally, transfer the prepared french fries to the serving plate for you and your family to enjoy.

Benefits of the Healthy Versions of French Fries

Potatoes are a multipurpose root vegetable and a regular household item. They are inexpensive, easy to grow, and contain a wide range of nutrients. The nutrients in the potatoes are most likely responsible for the health benefits you get from eating french fries. However, most french fries versions are fried and have a high amount of sodium. Hence, to reap any benefits, it is best to choose the healthy versions that are baked or air-fried and contain less sodium.

Powerhouse of Antioxidant

According to a study, potatoes contain antioxidants. These are carotenoids, anthocyanins, chlorogenic, caffeic acid, flavonoids and phenolic acids. They serve as antioxidants in the body by neutralising potentially harmful chemicals known as free radicals. When they build up, free radicals can increase the risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

High-Fibre

Many individuals prefer sweet potato fries to white potato fries because they are more nutritious. In addition, sweet potato fries include more fibre than white potato fries, which helps lower blood pressure and protect the heart from cardiovascular disease. Fibre also helps to keep your blood sugar stable for extended periods, so you don’t have to eat again an hour (or so) later.

Loaded with Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is found in potatoes and, ultimately, french fries. Studies show that it aids in regulating female hormones during menstruation and preventing nausea in pregnant women. B6 is also beneficial to children’s brain growth and adult brain health. There are, however, healthier sources of B6 available, or you can take a decent B-complex vitamin. However, if you consume french fries, you may rest assured that they will help keep your mind sharp.

Healthy for Bones

Recent research found that potato contains iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, and phosphorus, all necessary for bone mineralisation. Collagen, which is crucial for bone and joint health, is made by combining iron and zinc. Phosphorous and calcium work together to form strong bones. You are at risk for osteoporosis if you have too much phosphorus and not enough calcium. You’ll cover all of your bases with a tiny amount of french fries and some lean protein.

Improved Digestive Health

Potato-resistant starch is a source of nutrients for good gut microbes. When resistant starch reaches the large intestine, it feeds the good bacteria in the gut. Once digested, it is converted into short-chain fatty acids by these bacteria.

Potato-resistant starch gets primarily metabolised into the short-chain fatty acid butyrate. As a result, they are the gut bacteria’s preferred food source. Studies show the Butyrate can reduce colon inflammation, enhance colon defence, and lower the risk of colorectal cancer.

Gluten-Free

Potatoes are naturally gluten-free, making them a great food choice for persons with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity who aren’t celiac. Gluten is a protein family found in grains such as spelt, wheat, barley, and rye, and it is not very good for those who are allergic to gluten. However, the item does not cause undesirable symptoms in most persons.

On the other hand, people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity may experience acute discomfort while eating gluten-containing meals. Sharp stomach discomfort, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, and skin rashes are just a few symptoms. Therefore, one should include potatoes in your diet if you wish to follow a gluten-free diet. They are naturally gluten-free, so they will not cause any unpleasant symptoms.

Immune System Booster

Potatoes are a good source of vitamin C, which boosts your immune system and reduces the amount of time you spend unwell. B6 also strengthens your immune system and helps your body fight illnesses found in one of the research.

In moderation, eating french fries has certain nutritional benefits. While the carbohydrate count is significant, the advantages may justify eating them at least once in a while. In addition, since you have more control over the ingredients and the cooking procedure, homemade french fries are frequently healthier than fast-food fries.

The HealthifyMe Note

The occasionally fun snack won’t harm you but introducing such food into your meals once a week. However, it might negatively affect the body due to the additional fat, sodium, and calories they contain. We would recommend you make them at home and use sweet potatoes instead. You could bake them or use an air fryer to make them. 

The Potential Adverse Effects of French Fries

Here is why you should avoid it.

According to a study, eating fried potatoes like French fries and hash browns more than twice a week doubles your chance of health issues.According to a study, the saturated fat in French fries elevates “bad” cholesterol levels. As a result, it can create clots that cling to the walls of your arteries and block blood from reaching every area of your body. This buildup can eventually lead to strokes and heart attacks.Foods that contain fat are massive calorie bombs. A study indicated that eating fried meals was directly associated with cases of obesity. Also, this is just one example of supporting data for the link between fries and your waistline; there are plenty more.Compared to carbohydrates and protein, fats are metabolised more slowly by the body. As a result, fries stay in your stomach for far longer than healthy foods, and you’re more likely to get stomach problems if you eat fried items.When fries come out of the fryer, they are generously salted to ensure that they taste excellent to the customer. However, the salt used in restaurants is high in sodium. It can cause high blood pressure in persons who are sodium sensitive. It can also lead to fluid retention, damaging your heart.

The HealthifyMe Note 

One of the first meals you should regulate in terms of consumption is the fried version of French fries. You can satisfy cravings without harming your body by replacing them with roasted and seasoned baked snacks like makhanas, sweet potato fries and popcorn. We should be mindful of what we are giving to our children. Wrong habits creep in slowly, and choosing healthy food is a long-term good habit. It helps you to stay healthy and control weight always. 

Allergic Reaction

Allergic reactions can be anything from unpleasant to life-threatening. For example, if you have a potato allergy, you will usually have symptoms easily treated with medicine. However, according to research, a life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis can occur occasionally. 

An allergic reaction to the cooking oil used to make french fries is also possible. Because refined oils do not include proteins, they do not induce allergic reactions. However, some limited research sources reveal that unrefined and presumably refined oils can cause responses in some persons. So, be careful with the oil you use to fry the french fries.

Mild allergy symptoms, such as a stuffy nose, watery eyes, or hives, can lead to anaphylaxis. However, most allergic reactions do not progress to anaphylaxis unless not given enough attention. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening medical condition that requires rapid medical intervention.

Storage and Shelf Life

Eat french fries immediately after cooking because they lose their texture when cool. To keep yourself and your food safe, carefully storing leftover fries is essential. Within two hours of chilling, keep french fries in the refrigerator. It will prevent bacteria growth and spread, which may occur quickly when food is at room temperature. It is best to discard the fries if they were outside at room temperature for more than two hours. Bacteria proliferate and can make you sick.

Keep french fries frozen to extend their shelf life. Frozen French fries frozen at 0°F for an extended period are safe if properly preserved.

Conclusion

French fries are one of all-time favourite snack options worldwide, and they may be the best way to eat potatoes of all the possibilities. However, potatoes are a bit of a dilemma because they are both beneficial and unhealthy. Because of their starch content, french fries are a high-glycemic food, posing a cardiovascular and metabolic health risk. However, they are high in fibre, water, and nutrients, which are beneficial. Therefore, limiting them and viewing them as an unhealthy once-in-a-while treat rather than a staple may be wise.

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

Q. Why are French fries called French?

A. The French fry, despite its name, is not French. The French fry originated in Belgium when American soldiers stationed during World War I got introduced to them for the first time. Because the Belgian army’s official language was French, soldiers dubbed the excellent fried potatoes “French fries.” The name stuck, and we’re still giving credits to the incorrect country. 

Q. What are the most popular French fries?

A. All forms and sizes of french fries are popular. Even though fried, crispy, salted French fries are the most prevalent, many other variations are popular in different regions. These include tornado, garlic, cheese, sweet potato, and steak. 

Q. Why are French fries unhealthy?

A. If you eat a lot of fries fried in a lot of oil, they are probably saturated fats. Saturated fat consumption can elevate “bad” LDL cholesterol levels, which is unhealthy. 

Q. Are frozen fries fried?

A. Before being frozen, frozen french fries are fried in oil. They are blanched to extend their shelf life before being fried in oil to make them crispy and quick to prepare.

Q. Why are fries called chips?

A. Before “fries,” there existed a name called “chips,” which meant “vegetable slices.” Early on, French fries became popular and were known as chips since they were potato slices. Potato chips became popular in the United States early on, and they were named so because they were potato slices. 

Q. How many types of fries are there?

A. Many different types and variations of French fries are famous worldwide. Some examples are curly fries, crinkle-cut fries, zucchini fries, garlic fries, cheese fries, shoestring fries, chilli cheese fries, and steak fries. There are many more delicious ones to try. 

Q. Is it OK to eat French fries once a week?

A. If you only eat them once a week or less, they’ll probably have no impact on your health. Moderation is the key here. Make french fries an occasional treat if you enjoy them. 

Q. How often can you eat fries?

A. Eating them once or twice a week will not harm or kill you unless you do so to the exclusion of other healthy foods, so try to eat them in moderation, which will be just fine.

Q. Do you thaw frozen fries before frying?

A. If you’re using frozen French fries, don’t worry about thawing them first. Thawing fries can make them mushy. Also, the ice melts and soaks into the potatoes rather than evaporating in the hot oil as soon as it hits it. 

Q. Why are my frozen fries soggy?

A. If you freeze the potatoes for too long, ice crystals form, making them soggy and absorbing more oil. Likewise, if the frying oil is too cold, the fries absorb too much fat, making them soggy.

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