National French Fry Day – July 13, by Kristine Tohtz, DC, LAc
Have you ever met anyone that didn’t like French fries? I haven’t! Regardless of the type of potato you like or what you dip them in, French fries seem to be a universal favorite.
As a chiropractic physician and acupuncturist, I discourage people from eating too many fried foods, but I must admit, French fries are my favorite vice. And who says you can’t make fries healthier? My goal is to explain why eating too many traditional French fries can be a problem, and to teach you about healthier ways to make them at home.
Traditionally made French Fries:
Deep frying French fries in GMO laden canola oil or other saturated fats and oils makes them high in trans fats and saturated fats. According to the American Heart Association, saturated and trans fats raise the level of cholesterol – specifically LDL and triglycerides in the blood, increasing risks of heart disease, stroke, obesity and type 2 diabetes. A single serving of deep-fried, restaurant style French fries contain 24 grams of these non-beneficial fats.
Conventional French fries are usually high in omega-6 fats. Omega-6 fats are not bad fats, but the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats is very important. Most Americans get far too much omega-6 in their diets without getting enough omega-3. And too much omega-6 leads to chronic inflammation, cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases. Most sources rate American diet ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fats at about 15/1 – 16.7/1. Ideally this ratio should be somewhere around 2.5/1 – 4/1.
Another reason to avoid white potato French fries is acrylamide, a chemical found in many industrial processes like wastewater treatment, that forms in some starchy foods during high-temperature cooking (anything above 250 F). Soaking your cut raw potatoes in water for 2 hours before cooking them or even rinsing the cut potatoes in water will drastically reduce the possible formation of acrylamide during cooking. A Danish study in 2008 showed adding rosemary extract will reduce the acrylamide by 67%.
Healthier French Fries: Author Michael Pollan said it best in his book Food Rules: An Eaters Manual: “Enjoy these treats as often as you’re willing to prepare them—chances are good it won’t be every day.”
Here are a few rules:
- Color is your friend. You will find more nutrient density in sweet potatoes, purple potatoes or even veggies like carrots or zucchini. Use them instead.
- Baking – especially in a convection oven (think air fryer or copper basket baker) is a high heat alternative for crispiness.
- High heat oils like coconut oil are your friend – Olive oil will go rancid at high temperatures.
- Seasonings: Spices (thyme, rosemary, cracked pepper, red pepper or garlic), parmesan (or nutritional yeast) will decrease the amount of salt used at the end to flavor your crispy veggies.
Here is an example of a healthier French fry recipe (courtesy of Dr. Axe):
- 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into thin fries
- 1⁄4 stick grassfed butter, melted
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil, warmed slightly so it’s clear
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Place the fries in a bowl and drizzle them with the butter, coconut oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Mix until they are lightly coated.
- Place on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes.
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