When it comes to eating fried chicken and catfish, it’s more common to have people say it’s a no-no as it relates to losing weight. The truth is that you can eat deep fried foods and lose weight while also contributing to your health once you understand that the skin isn’t as bad as you thought. Also, the oil you use for frying is a key factor and what you eat along with your fried food matters.
For years many have been led to believe it’s healthier to remove the skin because it’s high in fat. The reality is that the skin on a chicken breast, for instance, is primarily made up of monounsaturated fat (about 55 percent). Other foods high in monounsaturated fats include olive oil, safflower oil and peanut oil to name a few.
According to the American Heart Association, monounsaturated fats can help reduce bad cholesterol levels in your blood which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Oils rich in monounsaturated fats also contribute vitamin E to the diet, an antioxidant vitamin most Americans could use more of.
When it’s not the fat in the chicken skin that you’re concerned with, it’s most likely the calories. Consider this: There is about a 50-calorie difference between skinless chicken and chicken with the skin on. The calorie difference between eating the skin or not is of little relevance.
The worst oil to use when deep frying would be vegetable and olive oils. Why? Unrefined oils used at high temperatures have a potential to release toxic fumes and trigger harmful free radicals. So, when frying at high heat, use refined oils with a high smoke point like peanut, avocado, safflower, sunflower and canola oils.
Using unrefined oils under high heat conditions can also increase fat absorption. However, when you use refined oils under high heat you minimize oil absorption. Here’s what happens: when the food is exposed to the hot oil, the moisture inside boils and pushes to the surface and then out into the oil. As a result, there’s less oil absorbed into the meat and the reduced oil that does penetrate the food can help form a crisp, tasty crust.
When you eat your fried food, portions do count. Keep to 3-4 ounces for women and 4-5 ounces for men. Secondly, when your protein source (i.e., chicken, fish) is fried, enjoy it with a side of low-carb vegetables like collard greens, broccoli, asparagus or sautéed spinach to name a few. Doing this makes for a fat-burning meal instead of a fat storing one.
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Robert Ferguson is a clinical nutritionist, author, fitness expert, CEO of Diet Free Life, and a leading voice of wellness and weight loss who serves on the Presidential Task Force on Obesity for the National Medical Association. You can learn more about Robert and his programs at www.dietfreelife.com