Yes, he’s already been called a monster, and we know you’re not going to listen to his advice, but there are some important elements to note here. Some of our favourite foods are also some of the most dangerous, even though they’re also the most delicious and moreish. Here’s what the science says.
Professor Eric Rimm is an academic specialising in nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard, and in a recent New York Times article has taken the shocking step of advising a limit of just six delicious, crunchy, greasy hot chips with each meal.
While potatoes are technically classified as a vegetable, they’re not nearly as nutritionally useful as other veggies, being a high glycemic index food. When you deep fry them, as any self-respecting potato fan should, they become even worse.
The study in question morbidly compares the death rates of people who ate fried potatoes and those who didn’t, and found that mortality was increased for participants who ate two to three serves of fried potato a week. The only good news is that the risk isn’t the same for unfried potato, so you can eat that delicious buttery mash to your heart’s content.
In terms of reducing the risk (because, let’s be real, you’re never going to just stop eating fried potatoes) the best thing to do is to cut down on regularity and portion size. Though it may feel healthier, substituting chips cooked in different oils or sweet potato chips don’t really change the risk factor.
This is the point when Professor Rimm pointed out that six chips is the ideal number for a meal, saying “I think it would be nice if your meal came with a side salad and six French fries.”
The backlash to this has been swift, of course, and Professor Rimm has been in the firing line. “Am I really a monster?” he asked in response to a Vanity Fair email. “A lot of tweeters in the U.K. and the U.S. act like I just caused a third world war!”
So no matter how strongly you feel about fries, maybe don’t harass the poor scientists who just want you to be healthy. Instead, consider ordering a side salad a little more often, or making home-cooked fries next time you have a bit of a craving. Make sure to leave the skin on for that little bit of extra nutrients!
Anyone else feel like chips now?