March 12, 2011

099 Give up Frying [31 January 2011]

Have you quit smoking (or never smoked)? If so, good for you! Here’s a suggestion that could prove just as beneficial to your health – give up fried food.

My last column discussed the relative dangers of EFA deficiency and mercury toxicity – that relying on fish alone for Omega 3 EFAs may do more harm than good. Here’s a similar story involving fish. A study published in December 2010 in the journal Neurology [] looked at differences in diet in the 8 states in the southeastern USA that make up the “Stroke Belt”. The one difference that stood out was that while the South’n folk ate the same amount of fish (2 servings per week) they were much more likely to deep fry it. This cooking method, the authors concluded, would destroy the Omega 3 EFAs nullifying the health benefit of the fish.

There are at least three other problems with deep frying food besides destroying EFAs:
1. the creation of Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs). When polyunsaturated vegetable oils (including canola, corn and sunflower) are heated to high temperatures, these AGE toxins are created that can alter the structure of enzymes and other proteins in our bodies.
2. a carcinogen called acrylamide is created when foods, particularly carbohydrates, are cooked at high temperatures. Common sources include the breading on fried fish and of course French fried potatoes (think of them as square coffin nails).
3. hydrogenated oils often used for deep frying contain high amounts of trans fatty acids which we know are definitely bad for our health.

Already quit smoking? Great – now quit frying! Your addiction to fried food may be just as strong, but the benefits of quitting could be just as significant.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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