French fries are a universally beloved side dish for a good reason: they’re delicious. Whether you’re snacking on regular russet potato fries piled next to your burger or dipping sweet potato fries in your favorite condiment, the savory taste always hits the spot. However, according to Eric Rimm, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition from Harvard, us Americans might enjoy those yummy fries a bit too much.
While speaking with the New York Times, Rimm didn’t mince words when describing potatoes as “starch bombs.” If it were up to him, our side of fries would be limited to only six sticks of salty goodness. Chances are, that level of restriction is unfathomable to you — even the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) allows for 12 to 15 fries per meal. Of course, most of us can admit to indulging in more than both of those amounts. The Times also cites the USDA’s claim that Americans eat an average of 115.6 pounds of potatoes each year, usually in French fry and potato chip forms.
However, Rimm’s argument stems more from the long-held idea that potatoes don’t have much nutritional value rather than how much of the tuber we consume. A 2013 study from Advances in Nutrition begs to differ, though. Although the researchers acknowledged this misconception about potatoes being unhealthy, they also concluded that potatoes are actually a low-cost source of critical nutrients, high-quality protein, and a satiating carbohydrate that contributes energy, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals to our diet.
That said, moderation is always key, which is true even when it comes to the healthiest foods out there. We don’t see any problem with enjoying a side of fries with your meals now and then, but it is probably worth considering how often you chow down on them in a week. If it’s more than once or twice, you might need to cut back. Whatever the case may be, it’s up to you and your doctor to decide what’s best for your health.