University of Hawaii System newsletter

Researchers Find Differences in French Fries

Posted on | January 22, 2010 | 1 Comment

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Mānoa Professor A. Hope Jahren and Postdoctoral Researcher Brian A. Schubert examined the oil content in restaurant french fries, and found that the majority of national chain restaurants on Oʻahu served fries containing corn oil—which is higher in cholesterol-raising saturated fat than other vegetable oils such as canola, soy and safflower—as compared to small mom-and-pop restaurants. The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The team found that the majority (69 percent) of the national chain restaurants served fries containing corn oil, whereas this was true for only a minority (20 percent) of the small businesses. Jahren and Schubert concluded that fries at the mom-and-pop restaurants are slightly healthier than at the big chains, thus making them a better dining choice.

Jahren and Schubert conducted their research over a year and a half by purchasing fries at 134 restaurants on the island of Oʻahu and analyzing the expressed oil for carbon isotope value. Because Oʻahu is geographically small, Jahren and Schubert were able to sample 68 of the 101 national chain fast food restaurants on the island, as well as a similar number of small local restaurants. They captured a profile of fast-food fries available to a population. Local restaurants sampled include Big City Diner, Rainbow’s Drive Inn, Like Like Drive Inn, Kanpai Bar and Grill and South Shore Grill.

“People want to eat right, they just don’t know how,” says Jahren. “Multiple studies have demonstrated that knowledge of ingredients leads to changed eating habits.”

Read the news release.