How many times have you heard fried foods are bad for you? They tend to be seasoned with a lot of salt, which has been linked to obesity and high blood pressure. Often, fried foods contain more calories than steamed or baked dishes. However, it may surprise you that some foods are better for you when fried.
To understand this, you first need to learn about carotenoids, which is an organic pigment. Several studies have found evidence that carotenoids help reduce your chances of developing eye diseases, certain cancers, heart disease and other chronic illnesses. This healthy nutrient is released at high temperatures from several common foods. When these foods are fried in oil, you are able to absorb more carotenoids as they are fat soluble.
So where is this nutrient hiding? Start by thinking colorful. Carrots, sweet potatoes, red peppers, tomatoes and pink grapefruit all contain carotenoids. Adding these foods to your diet has been shown to reduce your risk of stomach, prostate and lung cancers. Then think green. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and kale have been found to reduce your chances of eye diseases.
The important thing to remember is fried food, in this case, is pan fried food, not deep fried food. By pan frying certain foods, you are releasing the carotenoids trapped in proteins and other binders. For example, in tomatoes lycopene is bound with carotenoids so when you pan fry them, you release four times more of it than if you eat the tomatoes fresh.
Another reason frying food gets a bad rap is because there are so many different types of fats or oils used for frying. They are not all created equal. Sunflower and olive oils tend to be healthier than other types. The other thing to keep in mind is you only need a little bit of fat to release these disease-fighting nutrients. As little as one teaspoon of olive oil or about 5 grams of fat is enough. So next time you decide to eat some vegetables with dinner, consider pan frying them!