HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >

What about frying is unhealthy?

bairice May 8, 2012 04:44 PM

I'm trying to understand what makes fried foods unhealthy. I imagine all the extra oil that goes into french fries and pork katsu and fried ice cream is the main factor, but is there anything about the frying process that converts/creates any unhealthy chemicals?

I'm wondering specifically about

1) Oven "frying". If I am broiling skin-on chicken thighs, does that mean that if anything I am being healthier because the broiling process is allowing the fat to escape from the skin?

2) Making pork/chicken skin cracklings. Since I am essentially frying all the oil out of the skin, does that make it healthier than eating the skin made through some other cooking process (steaming, stir fry)?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. 1POINT21GW RE: bairice May 8, 2012 06:08 PM

    Properly fried food absorb an amazing small amount (contrary to popular belief) of cooking oil.

    I don't think I'm the best person to answer your question, though, as I do not believe in bad foods, only bad food habits.

    1. The Professor RE: bairice May 8, 2012 06:47 PM

      Fried food is only truly unhealthy if that's all you eat.
      I agree with 1POINT21GW ...the poor eating habits and the 'American culture' (there's an oxymoron for you) that feeds those habits are far more unhealthy than the ever changing list of "demon foods" that always get blamed.

      1. todao RE: bairice May 8, 2012 06:53 PM

        IMO, anything taken in excess can be unhealthy. Most things (including fried foods) taken in moderation are not. That would not make a french fry healthier than a carrot, but using common sense has always been the guiding light for food choices in my life and I'm old enough to have done it all; several times over.

        1. g
          GH1618 RE: bairice May 8, 2012 07:03 PM

          Here is a link to an abstract from a Spanish study on the subject of fried food as a contributor to coronary heart disease:


          I'll be eating calamari fritti with no worries.

          1. hotoynoodle RE: bairice May 8, 2012 08:29 PM

            cheap seed oils used in fast food produce trans fats which are very unhealthy.


            good fats, like olive oil, are not unhealthy.

            1. biondanonima RE: bairice May 9, 2012 12:24 AM

              "Healthy" is a pretty meaningless term when it comes to food, because here are so many schools of thought on which foods are healthy and unhealthy for what reason, all of which have "evidence" to back them up. If you adhere to the low-carb school of thought, then most fats (with the exception of trans fats) are good for you, but sugar and carbohydrates are unhealthy. However, the low-fat school of thought vilifies saturated fat (animal fats, etc.) but praises the virtues of olive oil and other unsaturated oils. You have to read the research and decide for yourself what constitutes a healthy food.

              Anyway, as to your specific questions:

              1) If you are broiling skin on chicken thighs without any breading, you are rendering some of the fat from the skin, which will be left in the pan. Cooking them on the stovetop will do the same thing, though - perhaps not as efficiently, but some fat will still render and be left in the pan. If you bread the thighs, the fat from the skin is likely to be trapped inside the breading, no matter how you cook them. Whether or not less fat=healthier is up for debate.

              2) When you fry pork or chicken skin, you are indeed rendering much of the fat out of the skin (although some does remain). Skin cooked in this way does most likely have less fat than skin that is just steamed or stir fried, although you can render a substantial amount of fat with those methods too (if you work at it). Again, whether or not less fat=healthier is up for debate.

              1. hill food RE: bairice May 9, 2012 12:36 AM

                in accordance with the others, it does have to do with the oil/fat used and the temperature employed. just don't do it every day. in fact use plenty and get it good and hot.

                Show Hidden Posts