Healthy Hollywood: Ask Keri Glassman - Are French Fries Really That Bad?

Keri Glassman Keri Glassman

Nutritionist Keri Glassman, who regularly shares her expertise on Access Hollywood and Access Hollywood Live, is answering your nutrition, diet and health questions.

Want to know how celebrities are getting their fabulous post-baby bodies? And, if their diet plan is right for you? This week’s question…

“Are french fries really that bad for me?” — Patricia K., Jacksonville, Fla.

Keri says…

You might have heard about celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson indulging in a side of french fries at Georgica Restaurant in East Hampton. Or one of the many celebs in “just like us” moments munching on fried spuds.

Well, it’s no secret that french fries are one of America’s favorite foods. The average American eats a whopping 142 pounds of potatoes a year - that’s an average of a potato a day! Whether they’re skinny shoestring, funky waffle, or thick cut steak fries, we seem to prefer them…fried.

How bad can these fried bad boys possibly be when celebs who chow down on them still have their killer legs and washboard abs? Potatoes and fries are like the angel and the devil sitting on your shoulders. Whole and fresh potatoes are packed with fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, plus they make for a cheap, hearty and filling side dish.

Their “French” counterparts however, are doused in oil, deep fried and occasionally smothered in cheese - not the most nutritious choice. But, that’s not to say that the occasional indulgence is not allowed. If the thought of those crunchy, salty, greasy fries is absolutely consuming you - allow yourself to have them as a special treat. Remember to have a small portion and enjoy every bite, we all know the celebs do the same!

When you opt for the fried version - be sure to know what you are getting. French fries do not have the same benefits as a whole potato. The most nutritious part of a potato is the beloved skin, which gets peeled right off (and when was the last time your order of fries had the skin on?). Fries are loaded with extra calories and fat, are low in fiber, and are usually a vehicle for excess salt. Just a small order from a fast food chain can have as many as 340 calories and 15g of fat - yikes! Talk about a recipe for a beach belly bloat.

Don’t fret, I actually encourage eating spuds and there are healthy ways to enjoy the burger’s favorite sidekick. No, I’m not talking about homefries, tater tots, hashbrowns, or any of the other “made from potato” culprits - I’m talking about making a delicious potato dish that tastes great and still has all the nutritional goodies from a whole potato - like sliced potatoes with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh garlic that are baked in the oven! Or even better (and my personal fav) are homemade sweet potato fries with rosemary. These bright spuds are not only delicious and filled with fiber, they’re also chock full of vitamin C and the vitamin A, which plays a role in eye health, helps produce new skin cells, shed worn cells and prevent wrinkles!

So, next time that hankering hits - try to resist the drive-through and leave the fries behind. Opt for the side green or fruit salad. Save your spuds for a home cooked meal where you can control how they are prepared. Now those potatoes with rosemary have never tasted so good.

-- Terri MacLeod & Keri Glassman

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