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We all know that deep fried foods are bad for us, so why are they growing in popularity? It seems that people all over the world are indulging in more and more greasy, deep fried foods. Back in the day we had french fries, donuts, fried chicken, corn dogs and potato chips. Now there are deep fried versions of zucchini, strawberries, turkey, pizza, candy bars, Oreos, Twinkies, cheesecake and even ice cream! As if Oreos, Twinkies, cheesecake and ice cream are not unhealthy enough to begin with, we feel the need to deep fry them to make them even worse for us!
So, why are we treating ourselves to these artery-clogging delicacies? I know that some people say that we only have one life to live, so we should live it up. But that doesn’t make sense to me. If you only have one life to live, do you really want it to be a short, unhealthy life that ends in a heart attack?
Why do we like deep fried foods?
Deep frying is a quick cooking technique in which foods are fried while submerged in hot oil, usually in a deep fryer. Most people who indulge in deep fried foods, say they enjoy the flavor and the texture contrast. There is something about the food being crispy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside that is very pleasing to their palates. But is that enjoyment, worth the cost to their health?
Why are deep fried foods bad for us?
Deep frying results in more total fat and calories than the equivalent non-fried foods. This difference can increase your risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, some types of cancer and other medical problems. Here are two examples:
- Turkey: A 3.5oz/100g roasted, skinless, turkey breast has 140 calories and 3.5g of fat, while a deep fried turkey has 190 calories and 11g of fat.
- Potato: A large baked potato has 275 calories and 0.4g of fat, while french fries, have 539 calories and 28.8g of fat.
As you can see, there is a dramatic difference between fried and regular versions of the same food. So, if you are trying to adopt a healthier diet or are trying to lose weight, avoid deep fried foods whenever possible.
What if I can’t give up deep fried foods?
If you find the taste of deep fried food irresistible and don’t think that you can give it up, do not despair! I have a solution for you. Try oven frying instead. This method will give you that crispy texture that you have grown to love, with less fat and calories. It takes slightly more prep time than deep frying, but it is well worth it. Here are a few oven frying recipes from WebMD. That is right you can still eat your favorite fried foods, like chicken nuggets and fish sticks, but without getting all that extra fat.
If I deep fry anyway, what type of oil should I use?
You are determined to use that deep fryer, aren’t you? Well, deep frying is a process that requires very high temperatures and requires an oil with a very high smoking point. The smoking point is the temperature at which oil starts breaking down and emitting smoke, giving an unpleasant flavor to the food. Not only that, the smoke from the oil can create carcinogens that should not be breathed or consumed.
So, while olive oil is a healthy oil for many purposes, it should not be used in deep frying, because it has a relatively low smoking point. The healthiest choice for deep frying is probably canola oil because it has a high smoking point. Plus it contains monounsaturated fats and omega-3 polyunsaturated essential fatty acids, which can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
The bottom line:
Deep frying really is as bad for you as everyone says, so if you can avoid it, do so. But oven frying can be a good substitute if you want a similarly tasty result. And if you must use your deep fryer, use canola oil instead of peanut oil, butter or lard. Remember, you may only live once, but you want that one life to be healthy and long!