Although your taste buds might be fond of fried foods, you should be careful not to make them a major staple of your diet. The frying process adds tons of calories and fat grams to meals, and it's easy to overeat when you snack on unhealthy fried foods.
It might not surprise you to hear French fries and mozzarella sticks, both fried foods, are unhealthy. But, the same holds true even for fried zucchini and other fried vegetables because the frying process robs the vegetables of their natural nutritional value. To make matters worse, many restaurants and chefs prepare fried foods using unhealthy artificial oils that contain trans fats.
Why Are Fried Foods Unhealthy?
At a most basic level, fried foods are unhealthy because they tend to be very high in fat and calories. But, deep frying also robs food of nutrients. For example, a large baked potato contains 220 calories and less than 1 g of fat. But, if you take that same potato and turn it into French fries, you end up with nearly 700 calories and a whopping 34 g of fat. In addition, deep fried foods also tend to trigger chronic health conditions, including acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome.
Dangers of Trans Fats
Many restaurants fill their fryers with partially hydrogenated oil as a cost saving measure. Cooks can reheat and reuse partially hydrogenated oil many times, meaning they can fry more food with less oil. But, partially hydrogenated oil contains trans fats, and consumption of trans fats could lead to heart disease. While healthy fats, like olive oil, can be consumed in moderation as a part of a healthy diet, you should avoid foods containing trans fats completely. Trans fats are simply too destructive to your heart.
What About Healthy Fats?
You don't have to avoid dietary fats completely. In fact, your body needs healthy fats to function normally. The healthiest fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats work to lower your risk of heart disease and can even reduce the cholesterol in your bloodstream. Some examples of foods containing healthy fats include olive oil, avocadoes, flaxseeds and cold-water fish.
How Much Fat Should You Eat?
It's true that healthy fat should make up a minor component of every healthy diet. But, you should be careful not to over consume fatty foods. The amount of fat you should consume daily depends on your caloric needs. As a general rule, about 25 to 35 percent of your calories should come from fat. The average person should consume about 2,000 calories, which means about 500 of the calories he consumes should come from fat. This works out to be about 60 g of fat.
It's important to remember that not all fats are equal. You should strive to cut trans fats out of your diet completely, but you should consume healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in moderation. Fried foods, however, are overwhelmingly high in fat and calories, and you should only consume these foods sparingly.