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Most Fast-Food French Fries Cooked in Unhealthiest Oil
Date:1/18/2010

Corn oil contains saturated fat, known to contribute to heart disease, researchers say

MONDAY, Jan. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Most French fries served in U.S. restaurants are immersed in corn-based oil -- usually considered the worst oil for human health -- before they're fried, according to the authors of a new study.

Corn oil contains copious amounts of saturated fat, known to contribute to heart disease.

This type of oil is also low in monounsaturated fat, which most Americans need more of, and high in polyunsaturated fat, which, in too-large quantities, can lower HDL ("good") cholesterol along with LDL ("bad") cholesterol, said Karen Congro, a registered dietician and director of the Wellness for Life Program at The Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City.

Congro was not involved with the new study, published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The same research group that performed this study reported in November that corn, which has been linked to obesity, is a prime ingredient in almost all fast-food sold in the United States, either directly or through animal feed.

Chain restaurants are not required to provide "specific" information on ingredients in the food they offer, while small businesses do not have to provide any information at all.

"Restaurants don't tell you what they're using and, even if you ask them, they will be very cagey," Congro said. "It will be a blend, but the blend is never a blend of anything you want to use."

French fries are particularly worthy of study, said the authors, from the University of Hawaii-Manoa, because they contribute 20 percent of the calories from a fast-food meal via the fat in the frying vat.

And Americans get about one-third of their total calories from restaurants.

The authors focused their attention on the saturated fat content of corn oil, which is highe
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