We all know that raw broccoli is good for us, but what about French fries? “No way,” you are likely saying. French fries are junk food — end of discussion. Well, according to researchers at the Department of Nutrition, San Jose State University, there may be a little more to the story.
In recent health news, the Californian research team conducted a study to test whether or not white potatoes, oven-baked fries, and French fries contribute important nutrients when it comes to the energy needs of children’s and adolescents’ diets. The researchers examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They discovered that approximately 35% of children and adolescents consumed white potatoes, French fries, and oven-baked fries. Eighteen percent consumed French fries alone. Intakes were lower in children compared with adolescents; in adolescents, more boys than girls consumed French fries. When it came to quantity, boys ate larger amounts of white potatoes, French fries and oven-baked fries than girls.
The researchers found that the three foods provided the following nine percent to 12% of total daily energy; eight percent to 15% of daily fat (including 75% monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids); 10% dietary fiber, vitamin B6, and potassium (click here to learn more about potatoes and boosting potassium levels.); five percent or greater thiamin, niacin, vitamin K, phosphorus, magnesium, and copper; and less than five percent sodium intake, for all sex-age groups.
The combination of white potatoes, oven-baked fries, and French fries provided five percent or greater vitamin C for all groups and five percent or greater vitamin E and iron for most groups. French fries alone provided five percent or greater vitamin E intakes for all. The researchers concluded that white potatoes, including French fries, provided what they call “shortfall nutrients” to children and adolescents — meaning when these nutrients are not boosted through other dietary sources, white potatoes and French fries can pick up the slack.
So go ahead — have some fries with lunch. But one health tip: eat fries and potatoes in moderation as part of an already healthy diet that emphasizes fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein.