When a stranger is thinking of Belgium, fries immediately come to mind. Just like chocolates and beer, they’re the most well-known part of Belgian cuisine on an international scale – yes, even though they are called French fries in some parts of the world. And even if it’s a bit of a cliché which not all of us Belgians are ready to accept, many of us still really enjoy a portion of fries every now and then. We already knew they’re not the sanest food, physically speaking, but a new study now claims they’re bad for our mental health too.
According to the study, which appeared in the scientific magazine PNAS and was carried out by scientists from the Zhejiang University in China, fried foods in general could have a negative effect on our mental state. Not only could they feed you anxiety (7% greater risk) but they could even cause a depression (12% greater risk), according to the scientists. In order to come to that conclusion, the researchers followed a whopping 140.728 participants over a period of 10 years. But how come?
The study points at a class of chemicals called acrylamides. These are produced by the so-called Maillard reaction when frying starchy aliments at high temperatures. Previously, other research had already proven that these acrylamides had negative characteristics effecting our health, including neurotoxicity, carcinogenicity and reproductive toxicity. And now, depression and anxiety can be added to that list.
Together, these results both epidemiologically and mechanistically provide strong evidence to unravel the mechanism of acrylamide-triggered anxiety and depression, and highlight the significance of reducing fried food consumption for mental health.Researchers of the study
A fair warning, that’s for sure. However, there seems to be an important side note to keep in mind, as pointed out by some independent researchers in reaction to the study.
“Those who consumed fried food were also more likely to be active smokers, have a higher body mass index and were more likely to have lower income and a lower educational background; factors that are likely affecting mental health and that cannot be completely excluded in the analyses they conducted”, Gunter Kuhnle, a professor of nutrition and food science at the University of Reading, explained in an interview to Psychiatrist.com.
His reaction clearly shows that there’s more to take into account than fried food alone but nonetheless, something to keep in mind if you’re a fried food fanatic.