We’ve all been warned about the detrimental effects of deep fried foods on our health. Fried foods…
- Provide extra fat calories we don’t need, contributing to weight gain
- Contain trans fatty acids which contribute to cardiovascular diseases.
- Promote the formation of free radicals in the body. Free radicals cause damage within our bodies leading to inflammation and age-related diseases.
- Reduce the nutritional value of the food being fried. For example, the valuable Omega-3’s in halibut are rendered ineffective by the high heat of frying.
Previous studies have linked deep fried foods to breast cancer, lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, esophageal cancer, and cancers of the head and neck.
A recent study conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has linked prostate cancer to regular consumption of deep fried foods like French fries, fried chicken, fried fish, snack chips, and doughnuts. (Stott-Miller, 2013) In an observational study, men who reported consuming at least one of these foods at least once a week had an increased incidence of prostate cancer. The researchers hypothesize that this may be due to the fact that the high heat involved in deep frying forms potentially harmful chemical compounds in foods – chemicals which may contribute to the formation of cancer cells. These chemicals include:
- Acrylamide – found in deep fried carbohydrate foods like French fries.
- Heterocyclic amines (HAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) – chemicals created in meats cooked at high temperatures
- Aldehydes and acrolein – build to higher levels when frying oil is re-used and when frying times are increased.
The researchers also point out that the high heat associated with deep frying also produces advanced glycationendproducts (AGEs) which cause chronic inflammation and lead to further free radical damage within the body. This oxidative damage increases cell turnover, and increased cell turnover can increase one’s risk for cancer.
Your best bet is to avoid deep fried foods, or limit your consumption to less than once a week. You may fare far better if you choose the following:
- Instead of French fries, choose oven baked potatoes.
- Instead of fried chicken, choose baked or rotisserie chicken.
- Instead of fried fish, choose lightly grilled or poached fish.
- Instead of chips, choose baked crackers.
- Instead of a doughnut, choose a cookie.
You can also support your body in staving off free radical damage by taking a high quality antioxidant supplement. Supplements like Saw Palmetto and Pygeum can also help with treatment and prevention of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). As with all supplements, look for a standardized extract and a guarantee of quality and purity from a reputable manufacturer.
- Stott-Miller, M. N., Neuhouser, M. L., and Stanford, J. L. (2013). Consumption of deep-fried foods and risk of prostate cancer. Prostate, 73: 960-969.