Why are French fries unhealthy?

Delicious as they may be, there are a few reasons why French fries are getting a bad rap. To begin with, they’re fried in oil, and as with most fried foods, this racks up the calories.

But the process of frying also has other repercussions. When oils are heated to high temperatures, a chemical process called hydrogenation occurs – the same process used in food manufacturing to make fats more stable. But unfortunately, hydrogenation also forms trans fats, fats associated with diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and even diabetes.

As if this is not enough to put you off French fries for good, there is the issue of acrylamide. When starchy foods are fried at high temperatures, a chemical reaction occurs between the sugars and the asparagine amino acid, forming a toxic substance called acrylamide. Some studies suggest that acrylamide intake could be linked to certain cancers.

So how can it suddenly be healthy? 

It’s all because of a new frying oil created by researchers at Calyxt, a food technology company in Minnesota. We all know that olive oil is good for us (do we even need to mention the Mediterranean diet?), but frying with olive oil is difficult. Not only does it have a low smoke point, but the strong taste does not match well with various fried foods. So the research team at Calyxt found an ingenious way to combine the neutral taste of vegetable oil with the healthy properties of olive oil. It therefore has less saturated fats, and more oleic fats than a normal frying oil.

This new oil is manufactured from genetically modified soy bean plants, and the taste test revealed that the resulting fries are just as delicious as you would expect a normal fry to be.  Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and with just a tad less guilt. Some restaurants in the US have started to use the revolutionary new oil, but it’s still uncertain when we will start seeing it on our supermarket shelves. Whenever this might be, fry-lovers around the world will be anxiously waiting for a guilt-free French fry!