Cooking almost always has some impact on the nutritional value of foods. Frying enhances the natural taste, color, texture and shelf life of vegetables. It cooks food quickly, leaving less time for loss of nutrients. Frying can add lots of calories to your meals, however. It also can destroy vitamins and minerals and produce toxins in your vegetables.
Vitamins and minerals
The nutritional value of fried vegetables depends on the cooking conditions. In general, when food is fried, much of the vitamin E is lost. Vitamins B-1, B-2, B-6 and C and minerals are better retained in the process of frying than in boiling, steaming or stewing. When the vegetables are sautéd or stir-fried, loss of beta-carotene is kept to a minimum. Deep-frying, on the other hand, can result in decreased beta-carotene and decreased vitamin A.
Although frying vegetables can be done properly to avoid oxidation and retain nutrients, the over-reliance on fried food leads to obesity. The highest frying temperatures cause the formation of toxins such as amines, acrylamides and sulphur compounds. The repeated use of reheated frying oil can destroy antioxidants in each batch of food you prepare with it. In addition, large amounts of fat in your diet contribute to an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and hypertension.
The July 2007 issue of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” published a study by Spanish researchers looking at the types of food choices that may trigger obesity. The researchers found that obesity increased in people who consumed lots of fried foods. Furthermore, a 2005 Harvard Medical School study found that adolescents who eat large amounts of fried foods are more likely to have a poor diet and to be heavier than their contemporaries.
Eating restaurant-prepared fried foods presents additional nutritional challenges. When restaurants serve fried vegetables, they may use oils that are high in cholesterol and saturated fats and they may fail to replace the cooking oil before it can deteriorate. In addition, high levels of sodium exist in any breading or batter used on deep-fried vegetables. It's easy to be tempted into super-sizing your order when you eat out, and that piles up the calories.
The best way to fry
Fried foods are hard to resist. They're crunchy; they have a rich, aromatic smell; and they taste great. Adding fried vegetable treats to your diet occasionally won't do much harm to your overall health, especially if the foods are cooked briefly at high temperatures between 350°F and 375°F with minimal breading. This ensures that the veggies don't absorb a lot of oil, that calories are kept down and that the formation of harmful toxins is kept to a minimum.