Oven roasted brussels sprouts (seasoned here with lemon pepper) are one of my favorite savory snacks when I’m craving something warm and crispy
We all know that deep fried foods are far from health promoting, but just how often is too often to indulge? While a handful of French fries here and there won’t kill you, new research suggests that even once per week is frequent enough to warrant health risks.
In a recent study, researchers followed over 15,000 men for nearly a decade, studying their eating habits and medical conditions. Compared to those that ate fried food less than once per week, eating fried foods just 1-3 times per week increased heart failure risk by 23%. Additionally, those eating fried foods 4-6 times per week had a 26% increased risk for heart failure, and those eating fried foods at least 7 times per week (or at least once daily) had a 100% increased risk (compared to those indulging less than once per week).
I suspect that most folks don’t have a deep fat fryer at home, which means that most of these fried foods are coming from restaurants. A donut here, a side of fries there–it all adds up rather quickly! After reflecting on my food habits over the past two weeks, I was shocked to realize that I, myself had fried foods on more than one occasion!
Last Thursday, I went out for sushi at Fin’s, and one of the rolls I shared was a shrimp tempura roll (tempura = fried). Plus, I even had a few bites of the fried ice cream for dessert. And the Sunday before that, while playing tour guide to my 18 year old brother Jack, we opted for a side of fries with our shared lobster roll at Island Creek Oyster Bar, and each got a fried oyster slider to start. Sushi and upscale seafood restaurants certainly aren’t regular affairs for me, but I was still disappointed to discover that fried foods pop up in my diet more often than I’d care to admit. Many of us consider these types of treats to be “special occasion” foods, without realizing just how many “special occasions” there seem to be!
As I mentioned before, a handful of fries every now and then isn’t anything to get worked up over. But this study serves as a great wake up call that “every now and then” is not the same thing as every week. Additionally, fried foods are a great target for nutrition goals, because there are often so many delicious alternatives.
Over the next few weeks, I’m challenging myself to cut the fried foods out of my diet (dietitians are human, too), and I’d love for you to join me! This really isn’t anything groundbreaking. For every deep fried food, there is virtually always a non-deep fried alternative. But I’d love to hear your comments. Is it harder than you thought? Easier? Any favorite substitutions? Do share!