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Baked vs Fried crash test

Frying is one of the oldest and most common cooking methods and it is used widely, both for home cooking and in the food industry. However, many consumers are concerned about the quality of fried food and the amount of calories in it, and rightfully so. On the other hand, baking requires less oil and alters less the quality of the oil used! So let’s do a…crash test with baked and fried food, to see how important the way of cooking is for our health and for managing our weight.

Pros and cons of each method

Some consumers prefer frying because it requires a quicker preparation, but mainly because it makes food taste delicious! However, the higher the cooking temperature (170–200°C during frying), the more oil penetrates the food, therefore the higher its calorific value. Also, it has been found that heating the oil at such high temperatures, as those produced during frying, results: in the formation of substances contributing to the breakdown of vitamins, products causing fat oxidation or substances causing irritation of our digestive system. Therefore, baking, which requires lower temperatures, adds fewer calories than frying, thus affecting our health less.

Impact on our health

As mentioned above, frying produces compounds which are dangerous for human health. The general public is already familiar with trans-fatty acids, which are the products of oil oxidation and have been shown to raise “bad” cholesterol levels while lowering “good” cholesterol levels. Many studies also link, to a large extent, trans fats intake to cardiovascular disease. Therefore, cooking our favorite foods in the oven or on the grill is obviously less harmful to our health! Of course, the type of oil and the extent of its use both play a major role. Olive oil is more resistant to oxidation than seed oils, but even so, it should not be used more than 3-4 times.

Impact on weight management

Each tablespoon of olive oil corresponds to 120 calories and 14 g of fat. This is why baking, which requires just a little, or even very little, olive oil, is definitely a more dietary way of cooking than frying, and prevents weight gain. However, not all foods absorb the same amount of oil when fried. Thus, frying meat or fish changes the fat content of the food slightly, as opposed to frying potatoes, vegetables and bread. For example, a fried potato absorbs 19% fat, whereas a baked one less than 5%! The same goes for vegetables, as they tend to absorb a large amount of fried oil, just like food coated with flour before being fried, such as schnitzels, onion rings, cheese croquettes, french toast, etc.

Current trend in the food industry

Currently, with consumers increasingly concerned about processed foods or “western” diets, which feature a high consumption of red meat, dairy high in fat, processed cereals, sweets and soft drinks, the option of a healthy diet suggests a better attitude towards life, bringing along multiple benefits. Therefore, the food industry aims, among other things, to provide healthy but tasty food, high in nutritional value and at affordable prices. This new trend urges us, consumers, to limit the consumption of fried and oily food, and to choose equally delicious alternatives cooked in the oven! For example, we can replace traditional snacks such as chips fried in seed oils already used multiple times, with crispy filo bites baked in the oven, which taste great and are definitely more nutritious for kids and adults alike!