A nutritionist said a serving of French fries should be six pieces and we are still reeling, to be honest

By | December 6, 2018

The New York Times recently came to a realization that will be not-at-all-surprising to most. Although potatoes are a vegetable, eating them with wild abandon in deep-fried form may not by the wisest of things to do — nutritionally speaking, anyway.

The inflammatory article, entitled “You Don’t Want Fries with That,” offers an overview of the side dish’s primary transgressions. Fries are, by nature, deep-fried in oil, calorie-dense and sodium-packed. The author concludes his story with a portion control-related suggestion from Harvard professor Eric Rimm. “There aren’t a lot of people who are sending back three-quarters of an order of French fries,” said the professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “I think it would be nice if your meal came with a side salad and six French fries.”

The specification of six seems to have been particularly triggering to the internet. After all, who among us has ever stopped at half a dozen French fries of their own free will? Predictably, the story sent Twitter into a tizzy, eliciting responses from the likes of Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, who tweeted, “I don’t have time for this kind of negativity in my life right now.”

Admirably, Rimm isn’t backing down from his common-sense message of moderation when it comes to the “starch bombs,” saying in an interview with Vanity Fair, “I was just suggesting restaurants could give much smaller options of fries for those of us who might need a taste but don’t need a whole basket in front of us with a meal.”

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Enjoying French fries on occasion isn’t the issue. According to Bloomberg, McDonald’s alone sells four million kilograms (nine million pounds) of fries each day around the world and Canadians devour more than 65 million kilograms (143 million pounds) every year.

Unfortunately for Rimm’s detractors, and anyone who considers fries an everyday food (rather than a sometimes food), the calorie counts are stacked against you. The point he was trying to drive home, as he told Vanity Fair, was that giving customers a downsized alternative could go a long way toward facilitating more healthful eating.

“For goodness sake, a large order of McDonald’s French fries has 510 kcal (not far off the Big Mac’s 540 calories),” Rimm said. “That’s almost four 12-ounce (355-mL) Cokes. How’s your stomach feel now?”

The United States Department of Agriculture suggests a serving size of 12-15 fries, which amounts to roughly 140 calories. While Health Canada doesn’t specify an appropriate serving range, it does recommend people eat foods like French fries and potato chips, which tend to contain the highest levels of acrylamide (a naturally occurring chemical that forms in some foods during high-temperature cooking), “less often.”

Health – National Post