Poliquin Live

Tip 244: Avoid French Fries and Other Fried Foods for Better Health and Brain Function

Monday, December 26, 2011 9:39 AM
Eliminate French fries, potato chips, and other fried foods from your diet for better health and brain function. Everyone will benefit by eliminating French fries because they contain a toxic substance called acrylamide that is found when certain foods are exposed to high heat. This is absolutely critical for pregnant women and children, the two populations who are most susceptible to acrylamide toxicity. It’s timely too because the U.S. Congress recently confirmed the classification of unhealthy foods such as French fries and pizza as “vegetables” in the school lunch program. Americas’ children will not only continue to get fatter, they’ll also be poisoned by fried potatoes!

Sarcasm aside, new research in the journal Nutrition revealed the neurotoxic effects of fried potatoes and called on humans to eliminate them because they “cause various impairments in quality of life.” The study compared the effect three different diets on the offspring of female pregnant rats. There was a control group that ate a normal diet, a group that ate a diet containing 30 percent of energy from potato chips, and a group that ate a normal diet with a comparable amount of chemical acrylamide.
Both the rats that were treated with acrylamide and those fed potato chips gave birth to litters with delayed growth and decreased body and brain weights. There were “drastic differences” in the brain structures of the rats fed the potato chips and treated with acrylamide. They also had extensive degeneration of myofibrils and sarcomeres (components of muscle fibers) in the gastrocnemius.  These results were not surprising in light of previous research that has indicated that chemical acrylamide is toxic for the brain. The study confirmed that foods naturally containing acrylamide such as fried potatoes are just as dangerous and should be removed from the diet.

Acyrlamide is naturally formed when foods that are rich in sugars or starch and low in protein are cooked at high temperatures. The various fried potato foods are the most commonly found food with high acrylamide in the human diet. Chemical acrylamide is ubiquitous in our environment and even if you don’t eat fried foods, it is present in cigarettes, personal care products, and very small amounts have been to clarify drinking water, among other things.
The acrylamide, both natural in the potato chips and chemical, caused the brain degeneration in the rat offspring by increasing oxidative stress that in turn changed the binding capacity of the neurotransmitter receptors. Neurotransmitter release was also negatively affected. Researchers suggest that acrylamide also inhibits brain self-repair, plasticity, and functional recovery.
Be aware that there are foods other than French fries and potato chips that you should avoid to minimize your exposure to acrylamide. Instant coffee, decaf, and coffee substitutes contain large quantities of acrylamide as do most cereals and baked foods such as bread, rolls, and cookies. Don’t worry, brewed coffee has a very small amount of acrylamide (6 to 16 ng/ml) compared to instant coffee that ranges from 172 ng/ml to 539 ng/ml. In comparison, the average potato chip has anywhere from 7000 ng/ml to hundreds of thousands of ng/ml of acrylamide. The simplest way to avoid this chemical is to eat a high-protein diet, eliminate wheat-based carbs, drink organic coffee, and don’t eat potato chips or French fries. 
Jablonska, W., Jablonski, M., et al. Fried Potato Chips and French Fries—Are They Safe to Eat? Nutrition. 2011. 27, 1076-1077.
El-Sayyad, H., El-Gammal, H., et al. Structural and Ultrastructural Evidence of Neurotoxic Effects of Fried Potato Chips on Rat Postnatal Development. Nutrition. 2011. 27, 1066-1075.
Andrzejewski, D., Roach, J., et al. Analysis of Coffee for the Presence of Acrylamide. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry.  2004. 52(7), 1996-2002. 


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