As moms we naturally always want the best for our kids, though we also want to give them what they want to keep them happy. This means that most likely you make fries at home, or other varieties of fried food. It’s an indulgence, and we’re going to bet you already know the health risks and disadvantages of fried food.
What you’re mostly likely unaware of though, is that re-using oil for frying is making an already unhealthy food choice much, much worse! We’ve either done it or seen it done, but whether it’s done for the sake of convenience or to be more economical, it’s guaranteed to be doing more damage than good. You’re creating a toxic carcinogen right in your own frying pan. The more frying oil is reused, the more harmful carcinogenic chemicals are created and multiplied with each use as the oil is broken down. Sure, saving a few pounds in your weekly shopping budget seems appealing now, but the long term cost can be much higher from consuming toxic foods.
Additionally, bacteria feeds on food particles left in used frying oil, meaning that if it is left out on your kitchen counters for long it’s a dangerous food poisoning hazard.
The breakdown of oil depends on the temperature it’s heated at and the type of oil used. Unrefined sunflower and canola oil have lower smoking points at around 100 degrees Celsius, while refined avocado oil can maintain its composition up to 270 degrees Celsius. The variety is obviously quite large, and it’s best to know what type of oil you’re using and at which temperature it reaches its smoking point and begins to breakdown and become toxic.
If you do decide to occasionally fry your food, once your oil has any of the below signs, it is time to throw it out and use a fresh batch. Watch out for:
- Excessive darkening, foaming, or thickness
- Smoking when heated
- Oil odor in fried food
- Greasiness/loss of crispiness in fried food
Knowledge and awareness are key for what’s going into our bodies, so if you are preparing your food at home or if someone is cooking for you, throwing out used oil should be at the top of your list of kitchen rules! If you’re looking to cut down on frying in general, but still have a thing for French fries, oven baked potatoes that are cut in the shape of traditional fries and seasoned to your taste are even more satisfying.
Photo from “Julie & Julia” (2009).