We’re all guilty of the occasional fried-food indulgence. Every once in a while, cravings or curiosity silence our salad-obsessed, nutritious side, and we order the fried macaroni and cheese, eggplant, chicken or potato. We can’t help it. Besides, do we really want to die without knowing what a noodle drenched in cheese and dropped in bubbling oil tastes like, even if that taste stops our heart mid-chew? Absolutely not. We have to live a little. At least, that is the rationalization we use to lessen the guilt that accompanies our decadent meals – that and the reassurance that if there was a healthier way to satisfy the crispy craving, we wouldn’t eat what we do. Well, I’ve got good news . . .
The Japanese have, once again, rescued our diets. Scientists from Tokyo University of Technology have discovered the secret to a lower-fat, fried batter. By analyzing the batter’s structure and experimenting with variations, they have determined the exact measurements that reduce fat without reducing crispness. A batter with 60 percent moisture content and a fry time of five minutes delivers a slightly healthier piece of fish. And, they’re working on applying the recipe to other foods. Fabulous! Could this mean that fried food is no longer the enemy? I can guiltlessly enjoy fried chicken sandwiches, fried ice cream and fried everything?? Umm, no.
I said lower-fat not fat-free. Besides, fat isn’t the only cause for concern. The mere act of frying – cooking foods at high and dry temps – creates advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs have previously been linked to diabetes-associated chronic illnesses, but a new study suggests that they can harm otherwise healthy individuals as well. Researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that consuming food with AGEs produced a temporary dysfunction in blood vessel dilation, which leads to hardening arteries and, eventually, heart disease. So even though cutting back on the fat may cut back on the risk of cardiovascular problems, the cooking method is counteracting the reduction. It looks like fried food hasn’t lost the guilt and probably never will. Oh, well. The fry wouldn’t have tasted the same without some good old-fashioned, diet-related reprimanding anyway.