I know fried food isn’t healthy. But I let myself indulge in it more often than I probably should…
It’s not like I’m feasting on fried Oreos at the county fair or eating buckets of fried chicken from KFC. But I love fried tofu from my favorite Thai restaurant. Or falafel from a good Mediterranean place. Or tempura vegetables from my local sushi spot.
Unfortunately, all fried food is equally unhealthy in one important sense — the oil.
Restaurants typically use cheap vegetable oils for frying, like canola or soybean oil. These oils aren’t very stable. At high heats, they produce acrylamide, a chemical linked to cancer. Plus, they tend to oxidize quickly and eventually become rancid.
In fact, a new study shows these unhealthy oils could be causing serious inflammation in your colon and contributing to diseases like colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease. Time to cut back on the falafel sandwiches!
Why fried food and colon conditions are like oil and water
A recent study from researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst shows that frying oil fuels inflammation for mice with colon conditions.
In the study, researchers used a sample of canola oil from a restaurant fryer used to fry falafel. They fed this fryer oil and fresh oil to one group of mice, and they fed just fresh oil to another group of mice.
The mice in the study already had colon cancer, gut inflammation and/or gut leakage. But the fryer oil made these conditions worse. In fact, mice with colon tumors who received fryer oil saw their tumors double in size compared to mice who didn’t receive fryer oil.
Why was fryer oil so bad for colon health?
Well, researchers confirmed that polyunsaturated fatty acids in the oils break down (AKA oxidize) and cause colon inflammation.
So, the takeaway? Fried food and colon diseases don’t mix.
“In the United States, many people have these diseases, but many of them may still eat fast food and fried food,” said researcher Guodong Zhang. “If somebody has IBD or colon cancer and they eat this kind of food, there is a chance it will make the diseases more aggressive.”
The colon-friendly way to consume fried food
Clearly, I need to take my fried food intake more seriously. And you do too… especially if you have a high risk for (or already have) a colon condition. Here are some foods you’ll want to avoid:
- French fries
- Potato chips
- Tortilla chips
- Anything breaded
- Fried chicken
- Mozzarella sticks
- Corn dogs
- Chicken nuggets
- Coconut shrimp
I know what you’re thinking… avoiding all those tasty fried foods is no fun!
Luckily, there are a few frying loopholes I want to tell you about. DIY deep fryers aren’t that expensive. If you buy one, you can make fried foods at home using healthier oils like coconut oil, avocado oil, and olive oil. (Although, I wouldn’t recommend going overboard on fried foods at home either. They still contain a lot of calories.)
You could also try oven frying or air frying foods. With oven frying, you bake food at a temperature that’s high enough to make it crispy with little to no oil (usually 450 F). To air fry, you need a hot air fryer, which uses hot air to make foods crispy on the outside. However, you choose to tackle fried food at home, give your colon a break and steer clear of restaurant fryer oil.
- Study shows frying oil consumption worsened colon cancer and colitis in mice — MedicalXpress
- Thermally processed oil exaggerates colonic inflammation and colitis-associated colon tumorigenesis in mice — Cancer Prevention Research
- Why Are Fried Foods Bad For You? — Healthline