Our experts let us in on just how unhealthy this mode of cooking is. By Sasha Gonzales
Why deep-frying chicken and sweet potatoes are a bad idea.
What happens when you deep-fry… Chicken
Steamed, grilled, roasted or baked with just a few low calorie seasonings and herbs, skinless chicken can be a very nutritious dish. However, when we deep-fry this protein, we start a process that renders the meat unhealthy, says Pooja Vig, nutritionist and co-founder of The Nutrition Clinic.
When oil is heated for deep-frying, chemical changes take place. The essential fatty acids become oxidised, antioxidants, such as vitamin E, are damaged, and cell-damaging free radicals are produced.
Deep-frying also yields trans-fatty acids, which can increase the risk of coronary heart disease, and turns the proteins in chicken into acrolein, a known carcinogen that renders such lean protein into an extremely high-calorie dish as it soaks up the oil.
Chicken that’s breaded or battered beforehand is even worse as both breadcrumbs and batter absorb oil, increasing the overall fat content.
Lastly, a high-fat diet has been linked to obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. But a small amount of fried chicken once in a while is fine if your overall diet is healthy and balanced. In the long run though, you are better off using healthier methods to prepare your chicken.
What really happens when you deep-fry… Sweet potatoes
This superfood is loaded with heart-healthy vitamins B6, C and D, as well as magnesium, iron and beta-carotene. It is also high in dietary fibre and has lots of energy-giving natural sugars.
Because of their nutritional profile, it’s important to treat sweet potatoes with care, says Helen Tsang, a nutritionist with Hong Kong’s Integrated Medical Institute. Steaming, broiling or baking are by far the best ways to enjoy them as these cooking methods preserve most of their nutrients and keep them low in fat – provided you don’t douse them with grease beforehand.
Deep-frying or pan-frying is not recommended, so give sweet potato fries a miss as they are definitely not a healthier alternative to traditional French fries! What’s more, frying increases the calorie content of sweet potatoes, and the high heat from frying destroys nutrients. If salted, they also become a high-sodium snack. Double whammy! (But if you must, here’s a healthy and yummy recipe for sweet potato fries.)