Taste vs. Risk: Is Deep-Frying Worth It?
Let’s face it – fried foods taste good. And despite the increasing number of reports and studies that suggest a link between fat-laden diets and obesity, heart disease and high cholesterol, people still seem to hunger for that greasy, flavorful crispiness of all things deep-fried.
Heart disease is the number one leading cause of death in America. One of the ways to reduce the chances of getting heart disease is by paying attention to food intake and making wise and informed choices. Amongst the FDA guidelines for achieving heart health are recommendations to reduce one’s fat intake and consume fewer calories. Frying - especially deep frying - adds a serious amount of fat and calories to a meal, and as such should really be used only as an occasional cooking method. In addition, many people have trouble digesting fried foods and will experience upset stomach and/or diarrhea after a high-fat meal. Another unconfirmed health concern surrounding the deep-frying of foods is the presence of acrylamide (a potential human carcinogen), which is produced in the frying process. However, there is as yet no consensus among the scientific and medical community as to the dangers of acrylamide in food.
The safety of fried foods remains to be seen. Like so many things in food processing, it is probably dependent on the type of operation, the products fried, the type of fryer and even the type of oil. In recent years the food industry has been responding to concern over fried foods by using healthier oils and manufacturing products that are lower in calories. For example, most commercial chips (including corn chips, potato chips and tortilla chips) are high in trans fat (known to raise levels of "bad" cholesterol which increases the risk of heart disease). In light of increased public awareness of this potential health hazard, some companies have started to produce chips without trans fat, and often indicate this on their packaging.