If I could invent a food that illustrates nearly all of the shortcomings of the American diet, it would be French fries, the familiar fixture of fast food.
What we have come to view as French fries contain just about every one of the unhealthy ingredients that lead us down the path of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.
Let’s take them one by one:
Potato starch–Potato starch exerts an effect on blood sugar similar to that of table sugar, only worse. (Glycemic index french fries 75; glycemic index sucrose 65.)
Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs)–AGEs form when proteins and fats are subjected to high temperature cooking; the longer the high temperature, the more the food reaction creating AGEs proceeds. AGEs are the likely culprit in roasted and fried foods that made it appear that saturated fats were bad, when it was really AGEs all along. AGEs have been shown to block insulin’s effects, increase blood sugar, cause endothelial dysfunction and high blood pressure.
Acrylamides–Acrylamides, like AGEs, are created through high-temperature heating. French fries are unusually rich in AGEs. Brewed coffee also contains a small quantity, while French fries contain 82-fold greater quantities, among the highest of all known sources of acrylamides.
Oxidized oils–The amount of oxidized oils will depend on what sort of oil was used for frying. As more restaurants are trying to get away from hydrogenated oils, many are turning back to polyunsaturates. Others are turning to commercial-grade oils that contain both hydrogenated and polyunsaturates. If oils are permitted to oxidize, then they will trigger oxidative phenomena in your body upon consumptions, e.g., LDL oxidation (Staprans 1994).
In other words, the innocent appearing French fry unavoidably triggers oxidation, all the phenomena triggered by high blood glucose (high insulin, glycation, visceral fat accumulation), along with the cascade of effects arising from AGEs and acrylamides.
Top your French fries with some ketchup made with high-fructose corn syrup that exagerrates AGE formation, visceral fat, and distorts postprandial (after-eating) effects.
Is it any wonder that we’ve lost control over diet?
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