Eat the Lord's Fries and be Healthy
Chipping Away at Fried Food Myths, December 3, 2012, Stephen Cauchi
Hot chips... they don't have to be bad for you. Lord of the Fries got it right.
CEO of Melbourne's Lord of the Fries restaurants, Mark Koronczyk proudly tells us that, "Lord of the Fries is superior. Unlike 95 per cent of the fries and chips in Australia, we follow the European model of using fresh potatoes. Not only are our products tastier but they are also healthier. We do not use the easier pathway followed by 95 per cent of Australian vendors who use frozen pre-fried potato which are full of preservatives, use beef tallow...and also whey powder."
Researchers from the Federico 2 University of Naples in Italy have smashed an age old fallacy. "Frying is bad for us? Absolutely not!" said Professor Vincenzo Fogliano, who oversaw the study with Italian chef Giuseppe Daddio. "If it's fried in the correct way, a potato chip...can be an excellent nutritional product."
The pair arrived at this conclusion by studying the way that cooking oil – which is usually loaded with fat – is absorbed during the frying stage. Zucchini and eggplant, thought of as healthy, absorbed 30 per cent of the oil. Potatoes and pizza absorbed just five per cent.
Italian researchers say that fried chips are not just full of nutrients, but also, if cooked correctly, the starch in potatoes makes them particularly resistant to oil absorption.
Potatoes resisted the oil because they're full of starch, said Professor Fogliano. "A fundamental rule is that starch plays an important part in sealing the food being fried and reducing the oil absorption. The starch in potatoes....is particularly effective."
There's a caveat or two, however. "Attention must be paid to frozen or pre-fried products," said Professor Fogliano, who spoke to the Italian newspaper La Stampa. "In these cases, the quantity of food absorbed increases significantly."
Lord of the Fries is one of the few places that cook fries the healthy way, European-style, as per the Italian study. They even keep the skin on. "I think it's a great study, we use fresh potatoes whilst almost every other business and even home made fries, use the frozen pre-fried option," said Mr Koronczyk. Using fresh potatoes labour-intensive, time-consuming and expensive.
"Our fries are the healthiest fries you can get," he said, "but I don't know if it's a healthy product."
The Dietitians Association of Australia echoed that sentiment. Spokeswoman Melanie McGrice said the only good fries were home-made fries. "Chips can be made slightly healthier if you're cooking them at home," she said. "But they're still high in fat and there's not a lot of nutrition in them." Especially, she said, if the skin was removed.
In summary: French fries are a treat food and should only be eaten in moderation, said Ms McGrice.
Ironically, even if fries are cooked the healthy way, customers will voluntarily make them unhealthy. At Flathead Fish'n'Chips in Brighton, where the chips are mostly definitely frozen in origin and not fresh, manager Mohan Vamsi said nearly all of his customers topped the chips with artery-stiffening condiments. "About 90 per cent of them like salt, and about 20 percent like vinegar," he said. "About half have sauce".
COOKING HEALTHY CHIPS