French fries are popular meal side items but findings of a new study have revealed that eating these fried potatoes at least twice per week can double the risk of premature death.

In a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that individuals who eat fried potatoes two to three times weekly double their likelihood of dying early compared with people who do not eat fried potatoes.

The researchers said that while potatoes are a great source of potassium and vitamin C, people who eat french fries also get extra salt and fat, which can increase the risk for heart disease and other health issues.

It is how potatoes are prepared that can influence risk for early death. Consuming potatoes boiled, baked or cooked were not linked to elevated risk for mortality. Frying potatoes make them dangerous.

Hash Browns And Potato Chips

It isn't just french fries that should be consumed with caution. Researchers said that fried potatoes are not just limited to French fries. They also include hash browns and potato chips, potato products that are typically prepared with a fryer.

These fried spuds are cooked in oil, which they absorb during the frying process increasing their fat content. Fried potatoes are also high in calories and carbohydrates.

The recommended amount of healthy fats in a person's diet is 65 grams but a serving of French fries alone contains about 24 grams of fats. Research has shown that diets that are high in fats can damage the nerve cells of the brain that play a part in controlling body weight.

"Even if it is an observational study, we believe that the cooking oil, rich in trans-fat, is an important factor in explaining mortality in those eating more potatoes," said study researcher Nicola Veronese, from the National Research Council in Padova, Italy.

Bacon, Sausages, And Burgers

It isn't just fried potatoes that are linked to early death. Processed meat such as bacon, sausages, and burgers, which were treated to preserve or add flavor, are also frowned upon by health experts. The World Health Organization (WHO) has, in fact, warned about the dangers of eating processed meat citing that these food products pose the same cancer risk as smoking.

Pork, Beef, And Other Red Meat

Figures from the Global Burden of Disease Project, an academic research organization, show that diets high in processed meat are responsible for 34,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide.

The Global Burden of Disease Project also estimates that diets that are high in red meat, which refers to beef, pork, veal, goat, mutton, and horse, could be behind 50,000 cancer deaths annually worldwide.

The warnings do not necessarily mean that consumers should go vegetarian. Consuming red meat and processed meat is still okay but experts said that the key is eating them in moderation.

"We should be limiting red and processed meat to help reduce colon cancer risk, and possibly, the risk of other cancers. The occasional hot dog or hamburger is okay," said Colleen Doyle, from the American Cancer Society.

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