When You Eat French Fries Every Day, This Happens

When in doubt, you can't go wrong serving someone French fries. This beloved food has inspired intense debate over the dish's place of origin, who makes the best French fry, and what even constitutes a French fry (via BBC). While we might not agree on any of these things, we can gather around and attest to the fact that the dish has stuck around for generations thanks to its irresistible taste and incredible versatility. According to National Geographic, Thomas Jefferson most likely introduced fries to the United States, and over time, the side dish swept the nation.

While we love to indulge in these fried potatoes, we need to approach them with caution. After all, French fries taste great thanks to the fact that they fry in hot oil and get topped with salt, both of which present some serious health risks (via Harvard Health Publishing). If you eat this side every day, you might end up facing some serious consequences. To help set the record straight, we consulted Dr. Elizabeth Klingbeil, PhD, RDN, LDN, assistant professor of nutrition at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, to learn what happens when we indulge in French fries on a daily basis.

What goes into a French fry?

Whether you order some fries at a restaurant or get a bag of frozen French fries at the supermarket, you can expect some similarities in nutrition. "A small order of French fries contains on average: 350 kcal, 16 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat and 250 milligrams of sodium," Dr. Klingbeil said. "While you generally want to make sure you do not consume excess of these nutrients, french fries do contain some vitamins and minerals. The average small order of french fries contains a significant amount of Vitamin B6, potassium and phosphorus."

While your standard small order of fries generally contains a similar base nutrition, your preparation can cause a world of changes to take place. "Like with any other food, how you prepare it makes a huge impact on the nutritional value of that food," Dr. Klingbeil said. "If you are adding toppings like salt, chili and cheese or dipping your fries into sauces you will be changing the nutritional value of your french fries. Other ways in which you impact the nutritional value of french fries is how they are cooked. Baked fries are going to contain less fat since they do not end up being fried in oil."

A side packed with fat

Due to the fact that many French fries come deep-fried, the choice of oil plays a key role in determining the food's impact on your health. "The type of oil you use to fry them will also change the nutritional value," Dr. Klingbeil continued. "For example, peanut oil is often used for frying and it consists of mostly unsaturated fats. But if you choose to fry them in butter, butter contains a lot more saturated fat. Therefore, your fries will have more saturated fat in them than if you used peanut oil."

If you eat French fries every day, expect to increase your fat and salt intake. "French fries contain significant amounts of fat, specifically saturated fat, sodium and calories," Dr. Klingbeil said. "Since most people do not only consume a small order of fries when they eat them, it can be difficult to stay under the daily recommendations for fat, sodium and calories when you are consuming them every single day. Short-term, this can impact your cholesterol levels and exacerbate any blood pressure issues that you may have. Also you can have weight gain and increased thirst due to the excess calories and sodium. In the long-term, excessive intake of calories, saturated fat, and sodium increases your risk of developing obesity, diabetes, certain types of cancer and cardiovascular disease."

More to worry about than just fat

When it comes to eating fries every day, one of the greatest threats to our health comes in the form of what French fries lack. "Another concern of french fry consumption is nutrient deficiencies," Dr. Klingbeil said. "French fries contain minimal to zero amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Iron. Vitamin D and Iron deficiencies are a common issue in the United States and can result in the development of several conditions such as iron deficiency anemia, fatigue, depression, and poor bone health. Vitamin A is essential for eye health and immune function. Inadequate Vitamin A can result in vision problems and impacts growth along with immune health."

If you decide to indulge in some daily fries, stay alert and watch out for all of these nutritional pitfalls. For the best health possible, try to eat fries in moderation, or else you might face each problem that Dr. Klingbeil identified. Stay vigilant, and watch out for these issues if you love a side of fries on a regular basis.