Are French fries gluten free? Well, that is a complex question. Potatoes are gluten-free, but that does not mean that French fries are also gluten-free.
When it comes to French fries, you buy from the frozen aisle or order at a restaurant; therefore it depends upon the ingredients and preparation if these are gluten-free or not.
For example, beer-battered fries have been very popular these days. Since beer contains gluten and many of these batters also contain wheat flour, these aren’t gluten-free. Also, extra crispy coated varieties also have wheat flour on the ingredient list.
Only a few restaurants cook their fries in dedicated French fry fryers, while other restaurants use shared fryers to cook breaded foods like chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks, and corn dogs.
This means a little gluten can be commingled with the fires in a deep fryer, making gluten-free items no longer gluten-free.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein in different grains like rye, wheat, and barley. Some products besides these grains can also have gluten due to cross-contamination.
Gluten has a variety of functions and provides many benefits to foods. For example, it gives a soft and chewy texture to many grains, and in bread, gluten creates an elastic network that traps the gas, allowing the bread to rise and moisturize.
Because of all these qualities, gluten is added to processed food to improve the product’s texture and increase its moisture retention.
However, gluten can cause some health risks when it comes to human health. Many people have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, a kind of gluten intolerance in which a person has to experience some side effects if he consumes gluten-containing food.
Health risks of gluten
- Celiac Disease: Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which a person’s immune system attacks the cells of the small intestine if he consumes gluten. According to research, almost 1% of the global population is affected by gluten intolerance.
- Gluten Sensitivity: Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is also a condition in which a person shows negative symptoms like nausea, headache, and indigestion when intake gluten without any positive results in celiac disease. And when they eliminate all the gluten-containing food from the diet, these symptoms resolve.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome: There is an overlap between non-celiac gluten sensitivity and irritable bowel syndrome because some people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome report gluten-containing food they cannot tolerate. Some researchers also suggest that a gluten-free diet can benefit people with irritable bowel syndrome, especially diarrhea.
- Wheat Allergy: A wheat allergy is not a gluten disorder but is related in many ways. Wheat allergies are intolerance to wheat, not just to gluten. That is why some people with a wheat allergy may avoid wheat but use other gluten-containing foods like rye and barley. However, most people with wheat allergies end up following a gluten-free diet.
Are French fries gluten free?
Typically French fries are made up of sliced potato, a starchy gluten-free vegetable. These sliced potatoes are then fried in the oil, which is also gluten-free.
Therefore, individuals with celiac disease or glucose intolerance can safely enjoy French fries made from pure potatoes and do not contain any gluten-containing products in them.
When are French fries not gluten-free?
To ensure that the French fries are gluten-free, verify that there is nothing in the batter that contains gluten like additives, seasonings, gravies, sauces, and toppings.
Many restaurants and other dining establishments make their french fries by adding a wheat-based batter to make them crispier. So, always read the label or ask the person who cooks your food about all the ingredients when dining outside.
Not only gluten-containing ingredients, but there is another important thing as well: cross-contamination. This cross-contamination can occur when gluten-free foods come in contact with the food containing gluten.
Cross-contamination can also occur in a home kitchen, food manufacturing, and dining establishment.
7 tips to avoid cross-contamination with wheat:
Although there cannot be anything you can do in the manufacturing of the French fries you eat at restaurants, here are some tips that can help you avoid cross-contamination:
1. At home:
To avoid cross-contamination in your kitchen, clean your cooking surface, utensils, and all the cooking equipment when preparing gluten-free food. If possible, you should make a specific area at your counter for gluten-free foods.
2. Grocery shopping:
If you are going to purchase packaged French fries. Look at the symbols carefully and buy the package with a gluten-free symbol on it.
That label will verify that the product does not contain any gluten or come in contact with any gluten-containing product while manufacturing.
3. While cooking:
When cooking French fries at home, try to use a separate set of cooking equipment and utensils like a fryer or fry French pan-fries.
You can also label your gluten-free equipment. Never fry your gluten-free foods in the oil you use for gluten-containing foods.
4. Dining out:
In the dining establishment, ask if the non-breaded food is fried in the same oil the breaded foods are fried; the same trick applies to the paste. Look if the gluten-free pasta is boiled in the same pot and water as non-gluten-free pasta.
Research has shown that cross-contamination can occur when gluten-free foods are cooked in the oil pot where gluten-containing foods are cooked. You will not be able to know how much gluten is in the oil of a given fryer.
5. Purchasing ingredients:
If you are at the supermarket to purchase the ingredients for your French fries. You should avoid purchasing starches and flours in bulk, even if it is gluten-free flour.
Because in the supermarket, gluten-free flour can get cross-contaminated with scoops. So, purchasing the package with a trusted gluten-free symbol is better.
6. Try different recipes:
You can easily cook delicious French fries at home. These days, recipes are available on the internet to help you cook.
You can also use different types of potatoes like sweet potatoes. And make varieties of batter with different gluten-free ingredients.
7. Choose where you eat:
Always choose the place where you eat wisely. Many restaurants are everywhere that prepare different foods according to customers’ requirements.
Moreover, ask a question about your food because food prepared in the kitchen where a lot of food is prepared simultaneously has a high chance of getting contaminated.
Studies have also shown that shared scoops, holding trays, fryers, and baskets are one of the primary sources of cross-contamination.
How to avoid gluten when eating out:
Finding restaurants according to your needs and taste is what everyone wants. These days restaurants are present in almost every area of the city.
However, not all restaurants can provide gluten-free foods. Some restaurants with French fries are safe to eat on your gluten-free diet. Before getting into it, here are a few things that you should keep in mind:
- The policies and procedures of the restaurants can be changed at any time. If a restaurant offers French fries once, it does not mean that it would be the same yearly. It also does not mean that every restaurant would have a dedicated fryer. It would be best if you always asked these things because the most accurate information you can get about any restaurant is at that restaurant.
- When ordering French fries, ask the server if these are cooked in a dedicated or shared fryer? When you ask this question, the server will acknowledge how you are serious about eating gluten-free.
Restaurants to buy gluten-free French fries
The following restaurants offer gluten-free French fries:
- Chick-fil-a: This restaurant is known for its signature waffle fries. These fries are made in a separate fryer and peanut oil.
- Five Guys: Five Guys’ hand-cut fries are very famous. This restaurant uses a dedicated French fry fryer to make the fries, which are fried in peanut oil.
- Larkburger: Larkburger is a small food chain based in Colorado. This restaurant offers gluten-free French fries and onion rings as well. Both of the fast-food items are prepared in dedicated gluten-free fryers.
- Hopdoddy Burger Bar: This restaurant is also very famous and trustworthy for its gluten-free French fries.
- In-N-Out Burger: This is also a popular fast-food chain that offers gluten-free, gluten-free French fries and other gluten-free fast food items. This restaurant uses sunflower oil and a dedicated fryer.
- Honest Burger: Honest burger is a trendy fast-food chain in the United Kingdom. The French fries and onion rings are cooked in different gluten-free fryers in this restaurant.
- Sonic Drive-Thru: Not all, but some sonic restaurants have separate gluten-free fryers to cook gluten-free French fries and tater tots.
- Red Robin: This restaurant is very famous for its steak fries. These fries are cooked in the gluten-free fryer on request.
Many other restaurants can make gluten-free French fries and other fast food items if the customer requests.
So, whenever you go out for dining, look out for the restaurant which makes gluten-free French fries. If not, then you can request if your fries can be cooked in a dedicated gluten-free fryer.
Health risks of overeating French fries:
Undoubtedly, French fries are among the tastiest and most comforting fast food anyone can find easily. Not only this, but these fries are so addictive that no one can stop at just one. There are many people who constantly put French fries with their pizza or burger.
If you are one of them, you should be aware of the side effects of eating too many fries. It can negatively affect your health and increase the risk of various diseases.
1. Can upset the stomach:
The human body digests the fats slowly as compared to carbs and protein. These fats also contain more calories, depending upon how they are cooked.
French fries contain a high amount of fats, so if it remains in the stomach for a long time, they can cause stomach-related issues.
According to a study (Mazzawi, 2019), if fried food remains in the stomach for longer, it can cause stomach pain and other side effects like nausea, diarrhea, and bloating.
2. Not good for brain health:
French fries are deep-fried in hydrogenated oils, which means they are high in trans fats. These trans fats can increase the bad cholesterol and lower the good cholesterol levels.
The high amount of trans fats can also increase the risk of various brain-related issues. According to a study of 1,600 older adults (Takanori Honda, 2019), people with high levels of trans fats in their blood were 75% more likely to get Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Can affect the immune system:
According to a study(E. Angela Murphy, 2016), eating high fat and greasy food can damage the gut microbiome and boost unhealthy bacteria, which can diminish the healthier bacteria of your body.
The gut plays a vital role in helping the body’s immune system. Eating fried food means you are exposing your body to diseases and sickness.
4. Increase the risk of heart disease:
French fries contain a high amount of fats. These fats can increase the bad cholesterol level and blood pressure, risk factors for heart disease like heart attack and stroke.
According to a study of 150,000 military veterans (VA.gov, 2020), people who eat fried food three times per week have a 7% greater risk of stroke and heart attack than those who do not.
5. Makes you gain weight:
French fries are high in calories like all the other fast foods. Which means these can make you gain weight.
One average serving of French fries has 378 calories, and the main thing is that it is very easy to eat many of them.
According to a study on long-term weight gain in both men and women (Dariush Mozaffarian 1, 2011), per serving of potato chips can increase the weight more than any other food.
So, are French fries gluten-free?
French fries are among the tastiest and the most accessible fast food these days. These fires are made from potatoes and fried in oil.
These gluten-free ingredients make these fries a safe option for people suffering from gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.
However, if you are purchasing French fries from any restaurant or dining out, then be aware of cross-contamination as all restaurants do not have dedicated fryers.
Cross-contamination can also happen in your kitchen. So, make sure to separate the gluten-free products from those containing gluten.
French fries are safe to eat on a gluten-free diet as it does not contain gluten, but too much consumption of French fries can cause health issues.
Fried food is high in fats and calories, which is not suitable for heart health and can increase the weight. So, if you want to eat some fries, then eat in moderation.
Other related articles:
- Are Corn Flakes Gluten Free?
- Is Buckwheat Gluten Free?
- Is Quinoa Gluten Free?
- High Fiber Gluten Free Foods
- Are Avocados Good For You?
- Are Garbanzos Good For You?
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