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Should French Fries Be Called 'Death Fries' - A New Study on Fried Potatoes

Susanna Sisson's picture
Fried Potatoes

I have been calling French fries or fried potatoes ‘death fries’ for years since I gave up carbs in 1977. Other carbs like sugar and rice were simply labeled ‘white death’. The negative connotation made it easier to avoid something I ate several times a week when I was growing up and knew weren’t the best choice. Now, a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) may have proven me right.


Potatoes are a staple around the world. The vegetable contain vitamins, minerals, fiber and are low in calories unless they are fried which adds calories and fat that can have an effect on cholesterol and triglycerides and increase your risk of heart disease.

French Fries and Trans-Fats
Not only do French fries pack a whopping 40-50 calories or more per fry depending on how thick they’re cut, they are usually prepared using hydrogenated oil that contains trans-fat. Trans-fat has been linked to increased heart disease, diabetes and stroke and has been banned in several cities like New York and Philadelphia as well as the state of California.

Studies have shown that when people eat even small amounts of trans-fat, as little as 2 grams or the amount in one sugar cookie have a significantly higher risk of stroke, heart disease, and sudden heart death. Two grams of trans-fat is about half that of an average order of French fries.

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The AJCN cohort study which looked at potato consumption followed 4400 people age 45 - 79 over an eight year period. Their analysis found that those who consumed fried potatoes 2-3 times a week or more were twice as likely to die as those consuming potatoes prepared by other methods such as baking or boiling. Of the 4400 participants followed, 236 died.

It's The Frying, not Potatoes
From the results we can conclude that frying, not potatoes, are the culprit. Eating un-fried potatoes was not associated with an increased mortality risk according to the study.

The FDA has mandated a nationwide ban on partially hydrogenated oil in foods, which will nearly eliminate dietary trans-fat and takes place in 2018.

If you want to lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and death by French fry, you may not want to wait for the ban on trans-fat to take effect.