Reducing Trans-Fatty Acid Content in French Fries
Researchers at Texas Tech University say french fries prepared in non-hydrogenated cottonseed oil are significantly lower in trans fatty acids and saturated fat than fries prepared in partially hydrogenated canola oil or soybean oil, the two most commonly used oils in deep-fat frying.
Trans fatty acids increase total cholesterol levels and LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels and reduce HDL ("good") cholesterol levels. The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting intake of fats and oils high in saturated and trans fatty acids.
Using each type of oil, the researchers made six batches of fries each day for five days, then analyzed the fatty acid profiles, trans fat content and crude fat content in both the fries and the oil. "No significant differences were found between the fries prepared in the three oil types for crude fat and the fatty acid profiles remained stable. However, the fries prepared in cottonseed oil were significantly lower in trans-fatty acids. The combined total of the trans-fatty acid and the saturated fatty acid content were lower in fries fried in the cottonseed oil," according to the researchers.
The researchers conclude that "because deep fat frying remains a popular cooking technique, health professionals should educate the public and the food service industry on the benefits of using nonhydrogenated cottonseed oil as an alternative to the commonly used hydrogenated oils." Many popular fast-food restaurants still use hydrogenated shortenings for all fried foods.