Research Suggests Fried Potatoes, Poor Eating Habits Reduce Lifespan

Researchers have found a link between increased mortality and frequent consumption of fried potato foods - but further research is required.

Jun. 29, 2017
By Mary Hernandez

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A recent study pub­lished in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has revealed that the con­sump­tion of fried potato foods (such as French fries, potato chips and hash browns) cor­re­lates with an increased risk of mor­tal­ity in a way that other food prepa­ra­tion meth­ods such as boil­ing and steam­ing do not. 

The pub­li­ca­tion is the first to directly address the rela­tion­ship between fried pota­toes and increased mor­tal­ity. It was under­taken by lead researcher Nicola Veronese of Italy’s National Research Council along­side var­i­ous pro­fes­sion­als from other Italian, Spanish, British and American edu­ca­tional and research institutions.
See Also: Dispelling the Myths of Frying with Olive Oil
The study of a group of 4,400 adults aged between 45 and 79 and mon­i­tored their eat­ing habits for eight years using food-fre­quency ques­tion­naires. On fol­low­ing up after the elapsed period of time, it was deter­mined that par­tic­i­pants who con­sumed fried pota­toes at least twice a week or more had an increased risk of mor­tal­ity, while those con­sum­ing unfried pota­toes where unaffected. 

As the study was obser­va­tional in nature, researchers admit that it can­not be said that eat­ing fried pota­toes directly causes early mor­tal­ity, and that it would require more research with larger sam­ple sizes of adults to do so. Furthermore, the results were con­cluded using infor­ma­tion gath­ered from an Osteoarthritis Initiative cohort study that required par­tic­i­pants either be over­weight or have expe­ri­enced knee pain or a knee injury over the pre­vi­ous 12 months. It is likely that pop­u­la­tion sam­ple itself was skewed to include adults who were obese and led a seden­tary lifestyle – two fac­tors that could influ­ence one’s early mortality. 

In 2016, Susanna Larrson of Stockholm’s Unit of Nutritional Epidemiology (from the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Karolinska Institutet) con­ducted two prospec­tive cohort stud­ies into the rela­tion­ship between potato con­sump­tion and one’s risk of devel­op­ing car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease. The study found no con­clu­sive link between the two, main­tain­ing instead that any increased mor­tal­ity observed was more likely to be related to par­tic­i­pants’ diets as a whole and not potato con­sump­tion in particular. 

A pre­vi­ous study by Italy’s Department of Food Science at the University of Napoli Federico II into the rela­tion­ship between vir­gin olive oil phe­no­lic com­pounds and acry­lamide for­ma­tion in fried crisps revealed that the prepa­ra­tion of the potato might be respon­si­ble for poor health out­comes rather than the potato itself. 

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The study found that pota­toes fried for pro­longed peri­ods at high tem­per­a­tures have higher lev­els of acry­lamide, a chem­i­cal com­pound many author­i­ties (includ­ing the World Health Organization and United Kingdom’s Food Standard’s Agency) believe to be toxic and respon­si­ble for increas­ing a person’s can­cer risk. 

Acrylamide lev­els were low­est in pota­toes fried on olive oil and higher in pota­toes fried in trans-fat rich cook­ing oils. Trans-fats have been proven to increase the lev­els of HDL (high den­sity lipopro­tein) cho­les­terol in the blood, increas­ing one’s risk of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, heart attacks and death.



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