You Should Only Eat 6 French Fries at a Time, Says Expert

The suggestion, made by Harvard professor in a New York Times article, is half of the USDA's current recommended serving size.
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You Should Only Eat 6 French Fries at a Time, Says Study

Americans are taking to Twitter following the suggestion that six French fries is the appropriate serving size for the popular fast food side. The number was posited by Eric Rimm, a professor in the departments of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, as part of his comments for a recent New York Times article detailing the health hazards of consuming French fries.

"I think it would be nice if your meal came with a side salad and six French fries," Rimm said in the article, published late last month.

Tweets from people weighing in on his comments quickly piled up, with some commenters even saying they would rather have no fries at all than merely six.

"(It) hit a vulnerable spot with the Twittersphere," Rimm told USA Today. "I hope a few creative chefs and restaurateurs are listening."

Rimm's suggestion is about half that of the USDA, which defines a serving of French fries as three ounces, or between 12 and 15 individual fries.

The New York Times article in which Rimm was cited highlighted health concerns linked to the consumption of French fries, including the reuse of frying oil, which has been found to release high concentrations of molecules called aldeydes, linked to cancer and other diseases. The story also noted that frequently-used corn oil is high in omega-6 fatty acids and can lead to general inflammation.

The Times also examined into the lack of nutrition in potatoes, even before they are fried.

“Potatoes rank near the bottom of healthful vegetables and lack the compounds and nutrients found in green leafy vegetables,” writes the Times. “If you take a potato, remove its skin (where at least some nutrients are found), cut it, deep fry the pieces in oil and top it all off with salt, cheese, chili or gravy, that starch bomb can be turned into a weapon of dietary destruction.”

The article also pointed to a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which noted that participants who ate fried potatoes two to three times a week increased their risk of mortality.

Potatoes are the most-consumed vegetable in America, according to the USDA, making up about a third of the average American's yearly vegetable intake. According to one USDA report, in 2013, two-thirds of the 115.6 pounds of potatoes eaten by the average American were consumed in the form of French fries, potato chips, or other processed potato products.

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