Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Why are French fries bad for health?

On this cold and rainy night, I took out a bag of French fries from the freezer - they are leftover "party food" I bought for my kids' birthday party. As much as I hate junk food, it's just as bad to waste food.

In the end, I deep fried them in coconut oil and sprinkled sea salt over them. 

While waiting for the French fries to cook, I decided to do a bit of investigation on why and how French fries are bad for us.

1. Danger of acrylamide (a carcinogen) from golden brown French fries 

Nearly half of the experts we talked to warned about the carcinogen acrylamide, a chemical that forms in some foods when they're cooked at high temperatures by frying, roasting or baking. To make acrylamide, a food needs sugars, an amino acid called asparagine and hot temperatures—all of which are involved in the making of the fry. Along with potato chips, it's the most often-cited source of dietary acrylamide.

“At very low concentrations, it will accumulate during the years of childhood and adolescence and will contribute to serious diseases, including cancer,” says Allal Ouhtit, professor at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman and author of a recent review on acrylamide. You should limit your intake of French fries, says Eric Morrissette, spokesperson for Health Canada, but eating them occasionally isn’t likely to be a health concern.

One way to cut down on the toxin is to cook fries for less time. “When the product is overdone—beyond the ‘golden yellow’—the amount of acrylamide in French fries increase exponentially,” says Vincenzo Fogliano, chair of food quality and design group at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

People who eat a diet high in acrylamide may have a slightly increased risk of cancer, he says, but if fries are prepped in good oil that hasn't been reheated, cooked for not-too-long and naked of mayo and ketchup, they’re a-ok. “French fries per se are not that bad as people think,” he says.

2. Regular consumption of French fries is related to macular degeneration 

Only one study was cited and this was done by a Chinese scientist studying aging, which makes perfect sense because China is facing an aging crisis amidst the increasing popularity of Western-diet foods. Did you know that this is exactly the same problem that the Japanese are facing?
On a much stranger note, French fries may mess with your...eyes? Chung-Jung Chiu, PhD, a scientist at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University found a link between popular Western-diet foods—including French fries—and age-related macular degeneration. “When people are older, they become even more vulnerable to these dietary insults,” he says.
I am now even more convinced to stick to a traditional Asian diet because many of the old folks lived healthier and happier lives when they were in their golden years.

Source: TIME magazine

3. McDonald's French fries contains MANY additives and preservatives 

For your family's and your own health, *please* read this article "What's really inside those McDonald's French fries" that examines the ingredients and cooking method for McDonald's French fries.

LISTED INGREDIENTS: Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor [wheat and milk derivatives]*, citric acid [preservative]), dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate (to maintain color) and salt.

Prepared in Vegetable Oil (Canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil) with TBHQ and Citric Acid to preserve freshness of the oil and Dimethylpolysiloxane to reduce oil splatter when cooking.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

World Health Organization child growth standards

Do you know your child's height and weight?

When my kids were babies, we used to bring them into the pediatrician's office or the Klinik Kesihatan for their regular check-ups (head circumference, height and weight) but once they start primary school, who is charting their growth progress?

This year, my daughter had to note down her height and weight for her science homework under the KSSR programme.

One thing I notice about my daughter (and previously son) is how much weight they'd lose once they start Year 1. Check out her height and weight measurements:

2016 - 6 years old

- Height - 115 cm - 50th percentile for height - she's the shortest in her class of 25 kids
- Weight - 16.3 kg - lower 15th percentile for weight - 3.7 kg underweight. 50th percentile - 20 kg. 

She had been going to the clinic a couple of times for fevers and coughs. A nice GP pointed out that she's a bit on the skinny side and took her measurements.

Then, she explained to me that my baby girl is underweight.

As a busy working Mom, I do complain to Hubby that I miss the days when I was a housewife and could comfortably prepare healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner for my kids because I do not like taking them to see the doctor.

The doctor's confirmation was a wake-up call and I decided to plan my time well to cook dinner 3 times a week. I am also now ensuring that my little girl eats a good breakfast like the ones she used to have when she was a toddler:

2017 - 7 years old

- Height - 118 cm - 50th percentile for height - she's the 2nd shortest in her class of 35 kids
- Weight - 19.5 kg - lower 15th percentile for weight - 3 kg underweight. 50th percentile - 22.5 kg. 

Growth reference charts: