Cutting back on the French fries might be a good idea for anyone interested in living longer. In a study conducted over eight years, scientists found that those who ate fried potatoes more than twice a week doubled their risk of death.
The researchers found that the people who died during the study were more frequently fried potato eaters than those who weren’t. Beth Warren, founder of Beth Warren Nutrition, who was not involved in the study, said those who enjoyed fried potatoes regularly indicated they might have a less healthy lifestyle.
“It seems that those people in the study who consumed fried potatoes at least twice per week were more likely to have an overall unhealthy lifestyle,” she said to Yahoo. “I don’t think they died from eating French fries alone, but most likely the habit meant they also indulged in other high-risk eating behaviors.”
The study included 4,440 participants ages 45 to 79 years old, and more than half the participants were women. The researchers followed up with the individuals eight years later and found that 236 participants died.
Those who consumed the least amount of potatoes were used as a reference group. The participants who ate fried potatoes two to three times a week and more than three times a week were found to have an increased risk of mortality.
Consumption of unfried potatoes was not associated with an increased mortality risk. Jessica Cording, a registered dietitian who was not involved with the study, said the results were not surprising.
“Fried potatoes are a food that provides a lot of calories, sodium, and sometimes trans fat, but contributes minimal nutrition,” Cording said. “They don’t actively do the body many favors in that respect.”
Cording said the foods people eat in addition to fried potatoes can make an impact as well. Instead of choosing healthier options, those who choose to eat fried potatoes are most likely choosing other unhealthy foods with the potatoes.
“There’s a big difference between eating 10 fries along with a salad with some lean protein, and with eating a large container of fries to go with a bacon cheeseburger,” Cording said.
The study authors note that additional studies done on a larger scale should be conducted to confirm the link between fried potato consumption and mortality risk. Picking up a French fry shouldn’t always be a cause for punishment, though, Warren said.
“If you eat an overall healthy diet and work out consistently, your body will be able to bounce back from the poor food choice,” Warren said. “It only becomes more of a problem once you make it a pattern that skews your body to be more unhealthy and inflammatory.”
Tori Linville is a freelance writer and editor from Clarksville, Tennessee. When she isn’t writing or teaching, she’s faithfully watching her alma mater, the University of Alabama, dominate the football field.