French fries is probably the most ordered and devoured dish anywhere in the world. With the entrance of food chains like KFC and McDonald’s in India, the sale of these delectable potato fries sky-rocketed beyond the universe. The availability of these potatoes is also responsible for being the most consumed fast food in India because it is easy to make and easy to sell. But is it really worth it – the calories, the fat and the cancer?
Recent researches done by The International Agency for Research on Cancer establishes that there are some chemical compounds found in some breeds of potatoes which have shown the growth of harmful carcinogens in rodents. They say that the chemical compound, Acrylamide, could be a probable human carcinogen too. Scientists are now gearing up to find breeds of potatoes which have lesser of this toxic compound.
According to scientists, higher levels of Acrylamide is found in potatoes, including french fries, potato wedges and potato chips than other food substances which are cooked over 120 degree celsius. A group of scientists, led by Yi Wang from University of Idaho in US, started researching years ago on healthier varieties of potatoes. Currently, they have been successful in identifying about 140 breeds of potatoes which have less Acrylamide and also, make better french fries like Ranger Russet and Russet Burbank.
Apart from Acrylamide, potatoes have polyunsaturated fats which become rancid on constant heating. They break down into several chemicals which may cause irreparable damage to our body. All these chemicals are linked to the composition of raw potatoes. They contain an amino acid called Asparagine, found in many animal and plant food sources, and is a known ancestor of Acrylamide. These amino acids react with sugars and form that intriguing golden coat on the french fries which gives it a crispy texture. This chemical reaction is termed as ‘Malliard Reaction’.
To test the growth of this compound, researchers planted 149 varieties of potatoes, harvested and fried them and tested the amount of Acrylamide. Central Food Technological Research Institute (Mysore) gave recognition to this theory and is conducting several laboratory researches on some Indian varieties of potatoes. India has a huge market for potatoes and these studies hope to identify some Indian varieties of potatoes for safer consumption of french fries.