RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Hoping to cash in on the nation’s growing interest in natural ingredients, Wendy’s is rolling out revamped “natural-cut fries with sea salt.” One plus: These skin-on fried Russets are cooked in trans fat–free oil. But they’re still deep-fried, which jacks up the calories. And though switching to larger-grained sea salt at home can allow you to use less salt without sacrificing flavor, Wendy’s managed to increase the sodium content of the fries with it. A medium order used to contain 350 milligrams (mg) of sodium. Now it comes with 500 mg! That's a third of most people's maximum daily salt dose.
The answer? Limit your intake of fast-food fries. If that sounds easier said than done, consider that you can learn how to make french fries at home that are more than tasty enough to satisfy your "fry tooth." And you’ll control fat and salt content while still getting the health benefits of spuds, which are numerous. Here’s what you get from one potato with the skin on:
• more than 4 grams of protein
• nearly 5 grams of fiber
• niacin and vitamins B6 and C (excellent source)
• iron, magnesium, and potassium (good source)
What’s more, the USDA's Agricultural Research Service discovered 60 different phytochemicals and vitamins in various potato varieties, including heart-protective flavonoids and hypertension-fighting kukoamines. Potato skins also contain quercetin, which may strengthen your immune system.
Learn how to make french fries at home and you can get all this goodness without OD'ing on health-busting salt and fat.
Like Wendy’s, you're definitely doing the right thing if you keep away from the potato peeler—as long as your potatoes are organic. Most of the nutrients in a potato are in, or just under, the skin. But the Environmental Working Group includes standard-grown potatoes on its Dirty Dozen list of produce requiring high levels of pesticides that are hard to wash off, so go with organic to know your spuds weren't doused in synthetic chemcials. (It's a good idea to buy organic whenever you can, since pesticides can get into produce as well as on its surface. And organic growers don't taint soil or air with questionable chemicals, either.)
If you like to fry your taters, know that acrylamide, a probable carcinogen, forms when certain starchy foods (including potatoes) are cooked at high temperatures. To protect yourself, simply soak raw, sliced potatoes in water for two hours before frying, which reduces acrylamide content by nearly 50 percent. Or microwave sliced potatoes for 30 seconds before cooking, to reduce levels of acrylamide by 60 percent.
Published on: November 29, 2010
Updated on: November 30, 2010