Potatoes are a staple food for nearly every culture around the world.
They can be boiled, baked, smashed, stewed, and—perhaps most popularly—fried.
However, fried spuds may be hazardous to your health, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, CNN reports.
In the study, people who eat fried potatoes two or more times per week double their risk of early death compared to those who avoid them altogether.
“Fried potatoes consumption is increasing worldwide,” Dr. Nicola Veronese, lead author of the study and a scientist at the National Research Council in Italy, told CNN.
In the U.S., the problem is especially concerning.
In 2014, Americans consumed 112.1 pounds of potatoes per person per year and of that total, 33.5 pounds were fresh while the remaining 78.5 pounds were processed, the majority of which were turned into French fries, hash browns, or potato chips.
Latinos are not exempt, either.
The potato—actually a native of Peru, not Idaho or Ireland, according to the Latino Foodie—is a big part of many Mexican food meals.
What Makes Fried Potatoes Unhealthy?
The study’s researchers tracked 4,440 people ages 45-79 over eight years.
In that span, more than 200 of the participants died.
Those who ate fried potatoes 2-3 times per week doubled their chance of dying compared to those who at no fried potatoes, Veronese and her team found.
“[We] believe that the cooking oil, rich in trans-fat, is an important factor in explaining mortality in those eating more potatoes,” Veronese told CNN.
Another factor may be a chemical byproduct in starchy foods like potatoes known as acrylamide. Produced when potatoes are fried, roasted or baked at high temperatures, acrylamide has been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals and is considered toxic to humans.
“Acrylamide is also a potential cause of cancer,” Stephanie Schiff, a registered dietitian at Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital in Huntington, New York, told CNN. “You can reduce your intake of acrylamide by boiling or steaming starchy foods, rather than frying them. If you do fry foods, do it quickly.”
Eating Healthier: How Food Can Save Your Life
The researchers noted that eating potatoes that have not been fried was not linked to a similar early mortality risk.
What about eating food to help you with your health?
Certain foods also shown to be good for dental health.
But, can food actually help save your life?
Many nutritionists and health experts believe so.
For example, one hospital café in Ohio has taken the idea of superfoods to another level by introducing a menu designed to help its patients fight cancer. By introducing antioxidant-rich, high-protein foods, the café menu aims to help its patients live longer lives.
Also, the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio created a cookbook to help protect Latinos and their families safe from cancer. Nuestra Cocina Saludable: Recipes from Our Community Kitchen includes 46 recipes for healthy, delicious foods straight from real Latina kitchens.