The worst foods are fast-food French fries, potato chips, and crispbread. According to British research, Lay’s Classic Potato Chips averaged 1350 ppb of acrylamide and Pringles 1500 ppb in surveys conducted in 2003. Ryvita contained between 1,340 and 4,000 ppb. In America, McDonald’s French fries, followed by Burger King’s, came out worst. However, even home-cooked French fries were found to be high. Acylamide is produced by frying, barbecuing, baking, and even microwaving.
The damaging effects of frying food depend on the oil type, the temperature of the oil, and the length of time the food is fried. Interestingly, it is the good polyunsaturated oils found in seeds, nuts, and fish that oxidize most rapidly, becoming undesirable trans fats. Frying with butter or coconut oil (saturated fat) or olive oil (monounsaturated fat) is therefore safer. Deep-frying is much worse than a two-minute sauté followed by adding a water-based sauce and putting a lid on the pan so the food “steam fries” at a much lower temperature. Grilling, steaming, boiling, or baking are better cooking methods than any form of frying. In addition, any form of overcooking will increasingly reduce the nutrient content of the food.
What we do to food in the kitchen can alter the balance between nutrients needed by the body and antinutrients (those substances that take away nutrients from our body). Frying food in oil produces free radicals, highly reactive chemicals that destroy essential fats in food and can damage cells, increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, and premature aging.
Anything browned or burnt, or cooked or processed using high heat, is likely to be bad for you. The bottom line is this: Eat more raw food, and steam-fry or boil food, rather than cook it at a high heat. To steam-fry foods rather than sir-fry them, add a very small amount of olive oil to a pan and sauté the ingredients for literally a minute, just enough to generate enough heat so you can then add a water-base sauce, such as one-third soy sauce, one-third lemon juice, and one-third water. This steams the food when you put the lid on and gives you hot food, full of flavor, but not full of oxidants or acrylamide.