Eating Fried Potatoes Linked To Higher Risk Of Death, Study Says

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Eating Fried Potatoes Linked To Higher Risk Of Death, Study Says
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What we eat and how it’s cooked are important factors that affect our nutrition and consequently our overall health. It’s been established that our food choices can also contribute to our mortality since certain diseases stem from our bad dietary habits. Recently, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated that eating fried potatoes frequently may contribute to a person’s risk of early death. [1]

According to the human study that spanned 8 years, people who consume fried potatoes two to three times a week doubled their chances of dying compared to the ones who don’t.

While it is easy to think that potatoes are inherently bad for our health, that is simply not the case. Potatoes are still considered a healthy food since they contain almost not salt, fat, cholesterol and are rich in vitamin C and B6. A more important aspect to consider is the method of cooking. Researchers in the study theorized that the mortality seen in the results could be explained by trans-fats found in the cooking oil used and the salt added to the serving. Other experts noted that cooking potatoes with the high temperatures seen in frying produces a harmful chemical called acrylamide.

Acrylamide is a substance produced when starchy foods like bread and potatoes are roasted, fried or baked – especially when they are cooked at high temperatures. Production of acrylamide in the heating process was shown to be temperature-dependent – and it was not found in food that had been boiled or in foods that were not heated. [2]

This chemical is also found in cigarette smoke, dyes, plastics, paper production and wastewater treatment. The problem with acrylamide is nothing new, but due to the recent study, it is now back in the spotlight. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies acrylamide as a neurotoxin and a probable human carcinogen based on laboratory data derived from animal studies. [3] However, even though it is still a probable carcinogen, several studies have already pointed out a link between ovarian and endometrial cancer with acrylamide consumption. [4]

With mounting evidence against fried potato consumption, it would be best to be prudent and take extra precautions. Steps to reduce acrylamide exposure includes soaking raw potato slices in water before frying, not keeping raw potatoes inside the fridge, stopping frying when the potatoes are golden yellow, and eating a varied balanced diet. [5][6] Increasing your intake of antioxidants from green tea and rosemary may also counteract the levels of acrylamide in food: A study from the Technical University of Denmark noted that adding rosemary to a baked food was able to reduce the acrylamide content by 60 per cent, while flavonoids epicatechin and epigallocatechin from green tea were able to inhibit free radicals that contribute to acrylamide formation in food. [7]

References:

[1] Fried potato consumption is associated with elevated mortality: an 8-y longitudinal cohort study (2017). https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/106/1/162/4569823

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acrylamide

[3] Acrylamide. http://epic.iarc.fr/research/acrylamide.php

[4] New study finds high levels of acrylamide in diet may increase ovarian, endometrial cancer risk. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/features/nutrition-news-cancer-acrylamide/

[5] Acrylamide and Cancer Risk. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/acrylamide-fact-sheet

[6] Families urged to ‘Go for Gold’ to reduce acrylamide consumption. https://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/news/2017/15890/reduce-acrylamide-consumption

[7] Press release: Certain antioxidants may reduce acrylamide in food. http://www.food.dtu.dk/english/news/2010/02/certain_antioxidants_may_reduce_acrylamide_in_food?id=c4c4a357-4b56-469e-8ff0-6ee68cdcedf4

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