Although french fries do not contain any dietary cholesterol, they may be high in trans fat and saturated fats, which can increase the risk of high cholesterol.
The liver makes enough cholesterol for the body to function properly. Dietary cholesterol, which occurs in animal products, can increase cholesterol levels.
Foods high in trans fat or saturated fats can also increase unhealthy cholesterol levels in the body, which can lead to health conditions.
This article looks at the link between french fries and cholesterol, healthier alternatives, and other foods to eat or avoid to manage cholesterol levels.
French fries do not contain any cholesterol. However, if they are high in trans fat and saturated fats, they may increase cholesterol in the body.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), many fried foods contain trans fat. Trans fat occurs in non-animal products when cooked in a mixture of hydrogen and vegetable oil, known as partially hydrogenated oils.
Trans fat increases “bad” LDL cholesterol and reduces “good” HDL cholesterol. Trans fat can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
A medium serving of french fries, around 117 grams (g), contains 2.7 g of saturated fats.
The AHA recommends a daily intake of no more than 13 g of saturated fats for a person consuming around 2,000 calories per day. Consuming excess saturated fat can increase LDL cholesterol.
Learn more about the causes of high cholesterol here.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that the body needs to build cells and create certain vitamins and hormones. Although it is essential for health, too much cholesterol can cause health conditions.
Cholesterol comes from two sources: the liver, which naturally produces all the cholesterol the body requires to function properly, and animal products in the diet, including meat, seafood, and dairy.
Certain foods and lifestyle factors can lead to high cholesterol, which can be a risk factor for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.
There are two types of cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is “bad” cholesterol, as it can cause a buildup of plaque in the arteries. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is “good” cholesterol, as it reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Triglycerides are another type of fat in the blood, which, combined with high LDL or low HDL levels, can increase the risk of cardiovascular conditions.
Total cholesterol refers to the combined amount of LDL, HDL, and triglycerides in the blood.
Learn more about the difference between HDL and LDL cholesterol here.
The term “high cholesterol” means the body has an excess of LDL or total cholesterol. This can be concerning because cholesterol deposits in the arteries can cause a buildup of plaque.
Plaque can cause atherosclerosis, when the arteries narrow and harden. This reduces blood flow, raising blood pressure and increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
High levels of HDL cholesterol can be beneficial for health, as HDL cholesterol carries LDL cholesterol away from the arteries to the liver. The liver can then break down LDL cholesterol and eliminate it from the body.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people have high cholesterol if their total cholesterol level exceeds 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl). The medical term for high cholesterol is “hyperlipidemia.”
Learn more about atherosclerosis here.
A lower cholesterol alternative to french fries may be to make them at home using a healthier oil option, such as:
Liquid oils may be lower in saturated fats than solid fats, such as butter or lard.
People can also reduce the amount of oil they use by using an oil spray or adding a little water when cooking. Baking french fries in the oven rather than using a deep fryer may also be a healthier alternative.
Traditional french fries may be high in salt, so people may want to choose alternative seasonings, such as herbs or spices. Excess salt can increase blood pressure, a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Learn more about the most healthy oils for frying here.
A healthier alternative to deep-fried french fries may be to make baked french fries. People can try the following recipe:
If people are trying to reduce their salt intake, they can replace salt with a different seasoning, such as paprika or garlic powder.
Find some cholesterol-lowering recipes here.
Foods that may raise cholesterol levels include:
Learn more about foods that may raise cholesterol here.
A diet high in fiber and healthy fats may help lower “bad” cholesterol and increase “good” cholesterol. A heart-healthy diet can help support healthy cholesterol levels. It includes foods such as:
Learn more about foods that may help lower cholesterol.
Other ways to lower cholesterol include:
In addition to lifestyle changes, some people may require medication to help lower cholesterol. People can talk with a doctor about possible treatments.
Learn about natural ways to lower cholesterol without medication here.
Although french fries do not contain any dietary cholesterol, they may be high in trans fat and saturated fats. Trans fat and saturated fats can increase “bad” LDL cholesterol and lower “good” HDL cholesterol.
Higher LDL and lower HDL cholesterol levels can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
French fries may also be high in salt, which can increase blood pressure and affect heart health.
Baked french fries may be a healthier alternative to deep-fried versions. People may want to make homemade french fries using a healthy oil, such as olive oil, and seasonings, such as herbs and spices.
Last medically reviewed on November 9, 2022
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