Written by Temitope Alao-Sanni, RD. September 2021

If you didn’t know there is a higher risk of developing Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs) like obesity, hypertension, and diabetes in Africa; you likely didn’t know that eating fried foods frequently can increase the risk of developing these diseases.

Fried foods

Many foods we eat are tasty when fried. I mean, have you heard of “small chops”? Ojojo? Dodo? and Akara? Hmmm, but if frying is not healthy in the long run, what do we do? Keep reading to discover five practical and simple ways to make fried foods less harmful.

1. Pair Fried Foods With Nuts, Seeds, or Vegetables

Fried food loses moisture (or water) and absorbs oil, making it higher in calories. Therefore, it is a good idea to pair them with foods that have low calories, such as; green leafy vegetables, cucumber, lettuce, and even carrots. These foods also have fibre that can have you eating less by making you feel full sooner. The soluble fibre in nuts and seeds can lower the amount of fat absorbed from your food into your body. So next time you have fried food on the menu, be sure to add some salad, fruits, or nuts right beside it!

nuts, seeds, and vegetables

2. Don’t Dredge with Flour

It is common to cover food like chicken or fish in flour before frying to get a crunchy texture and unique flavour; the process is dredging. However, starch and gluten promotes oil absorption and guess what has a good amount of these two things? That’s right, flour! Dredging food with flour (including wheat flour and cornstarch) may mean your food will have more oil and possibly unneeded fat.

Fried fish

3. Air fry

Air frying is fast becoming the most recommended alternative to deep frying. To air-fry food, you need little to no quantity of oil. That is good because evidence shows that frying food in oil can create acrylamide, a potentially harmful compound in food that causes NCDs. However, be careful! There is still a possibility that other toxic chemicals are associated with cooking food under very high and dry heat, an air fryer’s technology.

Air fryer

4. Limit Reusing Oil

Reheating oil under high temperatures causes some chemical reactions that release harmful substances known as free radicals. It also increases trans-fat into your food. So, limit reusing your oil to no more than three times. This is more likely to happen when you fry with less quantity of oil.

Oil in pan

5. Fry in Your Kitchen

The best way to make sure your fried food is healthier is when you do it yourself. It gives you absolute control over fried food, i.e. oil reuse frequency, oil quantity, and type of oil too.

In conclusion, always try a variety of cooking methods. Eat foods prepared using a particular method no more than 3-4 times a week; this allows you to enjoy various flavours, textures, and tastes. Our Registered Dietitians are available to answer your questions and guide you through making better food choices daily.

Speak to one of our registered dietitians to find out more about healthy cooking, and eating methods that promote a healthy and sustainable lifestyle!