Burger King Introduces Healthier Fries

OK, here’s a new rule: When you take a vegetable and batter it and deep fry it in oil (even if it’s not rainforest-destroying palm oil) and then douse it in salt, the final product can no longer be called “healthy” or “healthier.”

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To be fair, Burger King is being careful not say their new fries — which contain 30 percent less fat and 20 percent fewer calories — are healthy, but they are saying their Satisfries are healthier than their regular fries.

When I first saw the report by BusinessWeek about the “healthier” fries, I had to check and make sure it wasn’t Friday the 13th or that I wasn’t reading The Onion. Fast food serving healthier fries?

The lower-cal, lower-fat crinkle-cut creations are still made using the same potatoes and the same equipment as the regular fries, but the new batter, which was developed over two years with McCain Foods, means the fries absorb less oil, so you’ll continue to get crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, but now with less grease.

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These new fries have a lot of fat, a lot of sodium, and they’re an easy way to gobble down extra calories. Plus, the frying process creates a high level of at least one cancer-causing chemical. And white potatoes are mostly a starch anyway, meaning they’re high in simple carbs, which metabolize as sugar. Even the fat is mostly omega-6s, which most Americans get too much of in their diets already. And the heat-damaged oils are implicated in causing inflammation — a starting point for many health problems and diseases. Potatoes do contain a lot of potassium, but most of it is taken away when the skin is removed, as is done by fast food restaurants like BK.

Does the company really care about the health of its customers? Of course not. What they care about is their bottom line. Sure, they’re getting pressure to create healthier items from customers and health groups, but mostly these new fries are a marketing stunt to attract attention. And it seems to be working: The Atlantic goes as far as saying the fries are changing the fast food game. Is this true ? I’ll guess we’ll wait and see …

Two good things about this announcement: One, maybe this means the food industry will take notice and create more not-so-awful-for-you items, and two, the name. Satisfries. Say it three times fast. Satisfries, Satisfries, Satisfries. Satisfying, right? Well, at least until you get to the drive-thru line.

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