French fries – why should we avoid them?


French fries are cut into various shapes (bars, slices, quarters) potatoes deep fried. In many countries, they have become an element of traditional cuisine, eg in England, where fish and chips , or fish and chips is a national dish. In the world capital of fries – Belgium, fries (for mayonnaise) are added to almost every dish. 

French fries are available at every fast food restaurant. They are one of the most popular additions to dinner dishes. They replace boiled potatoes, cereal and vegetables. They are quickly available, cheap meals during the trip, on holidays and a snack at parties. Despite their high popularity, French fries are considered one of the most harmful food products. Why is it necessary to completely abandon them or limit their consumption to a minimum? 


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Acrylamide is a compound formed during thermal processes (frying, grilling, baking) of foods rich in carbohydrates, carried out at room temperature. 120’C. Therefore, its largest amounts are found in fried fries, chips, roasted coffee, bread and confectionery (including cookies, cakes, salt sticks, crackers, biscuits). In chemical thought, acrylamide is used for the production of plastics, adhesives, paints and varnishes. Consumed with food has potentially adverse health effects. In 1994, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, IARC, recognized acrylamide as probably carcinogenic (qualifying it to group 2A), genotoxic and neurotoxic. 

The examinations checking the content of acrylamide in French fries in Poland showed that the content of this compound in 100 g of the product is in the range of 2-120 μg. The European Food Safety Authority EFSA has set the lowest doses associated with a carcinogenic effect of 0.18 mg / kg / day (mg / kg body weight / day) and a neurotoxic effect of 0.43 mg / kg / day. Due to the adverse impact of acrylamide on health, the EU Commission issued a recommendation on monitoring the level of acrylamide in food (No. 2007/331 / EC). 


The average portion of French fries (about 120 grams) contains even 1 gram of salt. According to the WHO (2012) recommendations, the daily intake of salt, both contained in the dishes, as well as derived from salted should be no more than 5 grams (1 teaspoon). According to the Institute of Food and Nutrition, the average salt consumption in Poland is twice as high and amounts to 11 grams per day. Excess salt in the diet may cause adverse health effects. 


French fries are a high-calorie product. 100 grams of fries contains up to 300 kcal. High calorific value is due to the presence of a large amount of fat added in the frying process. The average (120 grams) fries contains about 20 grams of fat, which is 30% of the daily RWS (reference intake). The type of fatty acids contained in French fries depends on the type of fat used to fry them. Initially, traditional French fries were fried in beef fat, however, it was replaced by refined vegetable oils (rapeseed, sunflower, palm). However, many producers and restaurateurs use cheaper hardened vegetable fats for frying. Hardened fats are the result of hydrogenation processes of unsaturated fatty acids, resulting in the formation of saturated fatty acids with a solid consistency. However, the formation of hardened fats is accompanied by the formation of fatty acids with altered chain configuration. fatty acids type trans . Industrial food production commonly uses hardened fats due to the possibility of long, repeated use, low purchase costs, possible long storage period, no smoking during frying and the formation of an unsightly burnt smell. Fatty acids are also present in products such as margarines or confectionery. It is estimated that the intake of trans-fatty acids in Poland is 2.8-6.9 grams per day. According to the recommendations, however, it is suggested that their content in the diet should not exceed approx. 2 grams per day). In addition to hydrogenation processes, trans fatty acids are also formed as a result of prolonged and repeated frying in the same oil. Fatty acids of the trans configuration are very harmful to health. They degrade the lipid profile of the blood, raise the level of the LDL-cholesterol fraction, lowering the level of good HDL cholesterol. They increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes and cancer. 

When heating fats at high temperature, there are also transformations in which primary and secondary products of fat oxidation arise, which may exacerbate oxidative processes in the body and thus lead to atherosclerotic and cancerous changes. 

It should also be known that the simple combination of simple carbohydrates (and such as a result of high temperatures is a bit) and fats is not good as it affects the increase in triglyceride levels. 

Additives to French fries 

Rarely, French fries are eaten without additives. We add ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard or ready-made sauces to them. Unfortunately, they are usually an additional source of fat, sugar, salt and preservatives. French fries are also an addition to fish or meats, which are usually served in a fried form. This makes the meal rich in unsafe trans fatty acids, salt and acrylamide. 

French fries more healthy  

If you can not completely give up the taste of French fries, use a few simple rules that will reduce the harmful effects of the substances contained in them. 

1. Keep moderation! One serving of fries once every 2-3 weeks is certainly enough. 

2. Give up ready-made fries. Do not buy fries in restaurants and fast-food outlets. You are not sure what fat was used to fry them and how long it is in use. 

3. Prepare the fries yourself at home. How to do it? 

– peel and cut the potatoes into any shape (slices, bars, cubes) 

– avoid over-sowing – use a small amount of salt or replace it with herbs and spices, for example, dried basil, oregano, pepper, sweet or hot peppers 

– if you can, avoid frying – seasoned, chopped potatoes put on a baking tray and bake in the oven 

– if you prefer a fried version of French fries, choose a stable unrefined saturated oil (eg coconut) for frying, but remember to exchange fat after each frying (!) 

4. Read labels of ready fries (eg frozen fries). Avoid those that were made from potato pulp, not potatoes and those containing hardened / hydrogenated vegetable fat. 


You can read also: Carbohydrates or fats?

Posted on: May 14, 2019

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