Fries are always doomed to be on the “naughty” list. Typically paired with a fatty cheeseburger or fried fish, fries are easily put in the category of being unhealthy for you. But did you know that fries can be a great source of nutrients? When it comes to what happens to your body when you eat fries, it all has to do with the way that those fries have been prepared.

We did a deep dive into french fries, looking at the risks and the benefits of eating fries on the regular, and how your favorite salty snack can actually help you with your weight loss efforts. No, we really aren’t kidding about this one.

French fries often are criticized as unhealthy. But new research shows that the food provides health benefits, according to the the Alliance for Potato Research and Education. “French fries, as part of mixed meals, produce lower blood glucose and insulin levels in children,” the organization says. French fries is an elongated pieces of potato which have been deep fried. It is soft or crispy which is served hot either as a snack, dinner or lunch. It could be found in any place on the menus. It is mostly paired with ketchup or used as toppings or condiments such as mayonnaise, vinegar and others. It could be served as a topping for chili cheese fries or poutine dishes. Besides potatoes, sweet potatoes could also be used for making French fries. The potatoes are cut into thin slices which is then put in the boiling fat and fried on both sides till it becomes light golden brown in color and is drained. In South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and United Kingdom, it is also called shoestring fries in order to differentiate from thicker cut chips.

History:

There is no exact history of French fries. Spanish, French and Belgian asserted that they are an exclusive fries inventor. Belgian called it French fries. French assert that it was firstly sold by street vendors on Pont Neuf bridge in 1789. In 1802, the potatoes were fried in French style by Jefferson at White House dinner.

Nutritional value:

The serving size of 170 grams of French fries offers 73.42 g of moisture, 491 calories, 5.93 g of protein, 23.87 g of total lipid fat, 3.54 g of ash, 63.24 g of carbohydrate, 6.6 g of total dietary fiber, 0.48 g of total sugars, 0.1 g of sucrose, 0.24 g of glucose, 0.15 g of fructose and 57.14 g of starch. It also offers 23.87 g of total lipid fat, 61 µg of Vitamin K, 63.24 g of carbohydrate, 607 mg of sodium, 0.401 mg of vitamin B6, 211 mg  of phosphorus, 4.359 mg of niacin, 0.19 mg of copper, 926 mg of potassium, 0.413 g of valine, 1.55 mg of iron, 0.083 g of tryptophan, 0.927 mg of Vitamin B5, 6.6 g of total dietary fiber, 0.399 mg of manganese, 0.187 mg of vitamin B1, 0.204 g of isoleucine, 5.93 g of protein, 49 mg of magnesium, 1.7 mg of Vitamin E and 0.185 g of threonine.

Health issues due to French fries:

French fries are commonly known from the children to elders. It could easily be found in cafes, bistros and fast food restaurants. It will be more delicious if consumed with ketchup, vinegar and salt. It has few health benefits along with disadvantages such as clogged arteries, health issues and obesity. It is loaded with various amounts of nutrients and fat.

They are heavy in saturated fats.

French fries

If you’re snagging a bag of fries that have been heavily fried in oil, they are likely dripping in saturated fats. Taking in too much saturated fat can raise your “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and can potentially lead to heart disease and stroke. According to Cleveland Clinic, one person should limit their saturated fat intake to no more than 10% of their total calories. If you are looking to reduce your risk of heart disease, the recommended number is actually 7%. So if you are working with a 1,700 calorie diet, 10% of that would be 170 calories worth of saturated fat, which is an average of 18-19 grams a day. Fries can easily increase that amount in one sitting, so make sure to portion them out carefully.2

They give you lots of nutrients—on one condition!

French fries with ketchup on dark background, top view
Shutterstock

Did you know French fries can actually be good for you? It’s true! The trick is to actually keep the skin on the potato when you’re cutting up and making your own French fries at home. According to Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, the skin is a big part of the nutrients that the potato provides.

“When we talk French fries, most of the time, the skin has been removed and they are emersed in oil and fried,” says Goodson. “Some of the nutrients are in the skin, so removing the skin removes some of those nutrients.”

According to Goodson, a medium-sized white potato provides 620 milligrams of potassium, 45% of your daily value of vitamin C, and 3 grams of protein. Plus, it only contains 110 calories and 26 grams of complex carbohydrates—the kind of carbohydrates you want in your diet. It’s also a great source of vitamin B-6.3

They are a great weight-loss food if you cook them yourself.

Vegan crispy oven-baked fries
Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

While french fries from your local burger joint are super tempting, chances are you’ll cut down on the calories (and the saturated fat) when you simply roast your own fries at home.

To make them yourself, Goodson recommends cutting up a potato into fry-sized pieces (with the skin on!), drizzle in olive oil, and roast in the oven. You can even season with herbs like rosemary and cut down on the overall salt content by simply sprinkling it on yourself.

Potatoes will keep you feeling full.

French fries
Shutterstock

Did you know that potatoes are actually considered one of the best appetite suppressants? It’s true! The Department of Biochemistry at the University of Sydney released a Satiety Index of Common Foods that revealed the fullness levels of foods compared to an average white bread. Potatoes were actually considered to have the highest satiety—three times more than white bread!

So if you roast up your own fries at home, you’re not only getting a great number of nutrients in your diet from one potato, but it will leave you feeling full more than any other food!5

They are healthier than sweet potato fries.

Crispy sweet potato fries

Although sweet potatoes are deemed to be the “healthier” potato, the facts don’t actually back up said claim. In comparison to a regular white potato, a sweet potato pretty much provides the same nutrients. In fact, a white potato provides even more nutrients compared to the sweet potato. According to Goodson, the only difference in the sweet potato is the beta carotene—a component of vitamin A—which makes the sweet potato orange.

Some benefits of French Fries:

All in all, french fries really aren’t that bad, as long as you roast them yourself at home—with the skin!

Treat internal bleeding:

Vitamin K lowers the bleeding in liver, jaundice and poor absorption of nutrients. The deficiency of Vitamin K leads to colitis, Crohn’s disease, sprue and obstructions.

Enhance immunity:

Vitamin B6 has a vital role to strengthen immune system of the body as well as its functions. It supports the body to counteract various infections that could victimize body in the deficiency of this vitamin.

Supports digestion:

Phosphorus is vital to facilitate digestion in the body. Niacin and riboflavin is required for the metabolism of energy to emotional response and neurological systems. It helps to treat diarrhea, constipation, indigestion and regulates healthy bowel movements. It raises the digestive health.

Lowers cholesterol:

High intake of niacin helps to lower the bad cholesterol level and increase the level of good cholesterol. It prevents the conditions such as atherosclerosis and thickening of artery walls.

Treat arthritis:

Copper has anti-inflammatory properties which lowers the arthritis symptoms. It is believed that copper is an aid for arthritis which helps to strengthen muscular system. The water should be stored in a copper container and consumed in the morning which is helpful for the arthritis patients.

Prevent cramps:

The deficiency of potassium in blood is the reason for muscle cramps which is also called hypokalemia. The foods rich in potassium help to prevent muscle cramps.

Aids function of brain:

Iron helps to increase the brain development. It aids the supply of oxygen as the brain requires about 20% of oxygen. The blood flows in brain enhances the cognitive activity and assist to form new neural pathways. It also prevents the cognitive ailments such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Reduce stress:

Pantothenic acid helps to lower stress and mental problems such as depression and anxiety. It also promotes the fitness of mind. It organize hormones which are the cause for these conditions.

Eliminates free radicals:

Manganese has antioxidant properties which help to eliminate free radicals from the body. Free radicals damage the cells and cause cancer as well as other diseases. The foods rich in manganese helps to prevent these diseases.

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