Fried foods linked to increased risk of anxiety and depression, study finds

You’d better temper your appetite for French potatoes.

While it’s common knowledge that consuming fried food is detrimental to physical well-being, new research shows that it can also be bad to mental health. According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, people who regularly consume fried potatoes have a higher risk of developing anxiety or depression. 

Researchers in Hangzhou, China, analyzed UK Biobank data about over 140,000 people who have consumed fried food for over 11 years.

They found that eating fried potatoes was linked to a 12% increase in the risk of anxiety and a 7% increase in the risk of depression. UK Biobank is a large-scale database that contains health information on half a million UK residents.

The study suggests that acrylamide, a chemical produced during the frying process, could be responsible for the negative impact on mental health. While the findings refer to people, the study involved experiments with zebrafish; exposed to acrylamide it showed signs of anxiety and depression, including hiding in dark corners, reluctance to explore their tanks, and secluding themselves from socializing.

The results are preliminary and are expecting validation from other sources, so it’s probably premature to call for a boycott on fried foods. And yet tempering your appetite for French potatoes and adopting a healthier, more balanced, diet sounds like a good idea.