French Fries Calories: 9 Reasons to Avoid This Fast Food Favorite

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Posted on: September 27, 2015

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French fries calories - Dr. Axe

A staple in many American homes, the simple French fry is a tasty side dish that can help you to feel full. But have you ever looked at French fries calories and nutrition profile?

Whether or not French fries are good for you is a complex question. For example, if you want to know if ordering French fries in a fast food drive-thru is going to aid your health goals? Obviously, that answer is “no.”

But are there certain French fries that can be a great add-on to a healthy meal? Absolutely!

Why do French fries calories and nutrition matter? Because nearly everyone in our country is eating them. In fact, there seems to be a trend between the ages of one and two for children to begin eating fast food items, especially French fries, according to their annual checkups. (1)

If we’re feeding children still in diapers the French fries from the McDonald’s kitchen, we should know how they’re made, what’s in them and potential dangers they pose — but it’s not all bad news. You (and your child) can still enjoy French fries and know they’re part of a healthy diet.

How? Well, I’ll get to that.


What Are French fries?

Strictly speaking, French fries are sliced potato strips that are fried and usually served with a bit of salt. Their origin is debated, but it’s generally agreed that French fries were invented in America (although they’re popular in France, too!).

One theory has to do with the term “frenching” in cooking, which refers to cutting foods into lengthwise strips. Some argue that Thomas Jefferson named them “French fries” for the country where he had first been exposed to fried potatoes. (2)

Whatever the case, that three-ingredient recipe (potatoes, oil and salt) is not what most people now eat when they order French fries.

To use the most famous example, let’s look at a medium side of French fries from McDonald’s. A simple, three-ingredient recipe becomes a list of 17 ingredients, including several chemicals that are particularly concerning.

For one, McDonald’s (and most fast food chains) uses canola oil to fry, an oil that is almost always genetically modified. (3)

Well, at least French fries are gluten-free and dairy-free, right? They might contain some unsavory oil, but there isn’t sugar in a box of French fries. Wrong again.

The “natural beef flavor” in McDonald’s vegetable oil contains both wheat and milk, meaning that people with celiac disease, gluten intolerance or milk allergy may react poorly to this side dish.

The fries also contain a form of corn sugar known as dextrose, which is chemically identical to blood sugar (glucose). Dextrose is not recommended for pregnant/nursing mothers, those with liver or diabetic issues, and a number of other problems. It can cause blood sugar to quickly skyrocket and also prevent proper fat digestion.

Other ingredients include hydrogenated soybean oil (soybeans are almost always GMO as well, not to mention rich in hormone-disrupting phytoestrogens),...


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