Gearing up for the 4th of July holiday, I come across an unpromising item in my news feed, entitled: The Worst Fast Food Thing In AMERICA!!!!! OMG WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIIIIEEEEEEEE!!!!!!
(note, I may have embellished)
Great, time for more food myths peddled by anti-science busybodies. Cue Captain Picard:
So, here it is, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a bunch of busybody scolds who hate fun, mom, apple pie, and America have decided that perennial non-contender in the fast food wars, Long John Silvers:
Let’s just state that off the bat, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the CSPI, are constant nags of non-science, confederates with the greatest terror organization in the world, the American Heart Association. These bedwetters live in constant fear of fat and seek refuge in protein free carbohydrates because, I imagine, they misread an article in Good Housekeeping in 1963 that informed their world view thusly and wrongly:
a. The the human body is a battery in which all calories taken in that are not expended will be stored as fat.
b. Fat is bad bad bad bad bad bad.
c. Therefore, the absence of fat is good.
Quite childish and insidious, especially when you label your goobldygook with the imprimatur of SCIENCE!
Anyway, here we go:
Apparently has dun dun duuuuuunnnn “1300 calories, 33 grams of trans fats and 3700 milligrams of sodium.”
I tend to assume with numbers like these that they’re lying. Or using a large soft drink to boost those numbers.
Put it this way. The onion rings and the hush puppies would add up to 500 calories if they were what Long John Silver’s calls full side portions. I don’t think two hush puppies and 4 onion rings add up to that amount though, but whatever.
Going to the CPSI website of lies, I think the mystery comes down to this. They weighed the breading on the fish. Apparently, the weight of the cooked fish is something like 4 ounces with 3.5 ounces of breading. I think they even misconstrue that the pre-cooked weight of the fish in question gets partially converted into steam which either escapes or is part of the moisture of the breading. I think they thus extrapolated the breading obviously all fat, turning the 3.5 ounces in to about 400 calories of fat (note: I think this is actually it, 3.5 ounces=99 grams=891 calories, add the 156 and 329 and your get to 1376 calories, fairly close).
Damnable Lies though.
Anyone who knows how to cook (and you do know how to cook, don’t you) knows that the batter is moist because of the liquid used to make it moist in the first place, not because it absorbed all the grease in which it was cooked.
Fried foods cook, in part by steaming from the inside out. The intensely hot oil causes the internal moisture in the food to boil, which then escapes as steam. The outward rush of steam prevents the surrounding oil from permeating the food and making it greasy. This equilibrium creates that nirvana of a crunchy outside and a tender, moist, non-oily inside.
That is, you cook it right, you get a crispy skin on the outside with an inside that is tender and moist. You cook it wrong, then you can get an oily, inedible shell. It’s magic. Part of the breading is dry, part is moist, yet it’s overall crunchy. It is not, counter to the CPSI fiends, an oil drenched rag. And let’s not forget that fish and chips has a long storied history and is part of a whole country’s culinary history. You’d think that there were English people keeling over from heart attacks all over the place.
- 2 pounds of firm white fish fillets cut into strips about an inch wide and no thicker than about an inch in thickness (I prefer to cut these about ½ an inch in thickness to speed the frying process – at a half inch, these cook through in 3 or 4 minutes, which is convenient since you’ll be frying in batches!)
- 1 can of beer (Ideally a dark ale or stout like Guinness but any type of beer will work here)
- 1 ¼ cups of all purpose flour, plus another ½ cup or so for dredging, laid on a plate
That recipe, for all it’s flour, and 2 pounds of fish, has 12 glorious ounces of beer, a nice zero glycemic index ingredient. That’s why the batter seemed so moist to the CPSI.
Ok, so the CPSI lied about how bad the calories are in the Long John Silver’s “Big Catch”.
But wait, there’s so much more.
The CPSI is ultimately being hysterical about the transfats. It’s not the calories or the fats, right, inasmuch as there’s 33 grams of transfats.
In this last test, the A.H.A. diet was about 30 percent calories from fat, less than 10 percent calories from saturated fat; the low-carb diet was almost 40 percent calories from fat, around 12.5 percent saturated fat. In this particular trial, as in all of them so far, the high-saturated-fat diet (low-carb or Atkins-like) resulted in the best improvement in cholesterol profile — total cholesterol/H.D.L. In this Israeli trial, the high-saturated-fat diet reduced L.D.L. at least as well as the did the A.H.A. relatively low-fat diet, the fundamental purpose of which is to lower L.D.L. by reducing the saturated fat content.
So here’s the simple question and the point: how can saturated fat be bad for us if a high saturated fat diet lowers L.D.L. at least as well as a diet that has 20 to 25 percent less saturated fat?
So, what the hell, man? Note that these same cooks forced places to switch from healthy beef tallow to evil transfats in the first place:
Both lard and butter have been vilified (undeservedly) by the all-saturated-fats-are-evil crowd, but where butter has been labeled by them as dangerous for your health, lard has been cast as a mass-murdering serial killer. It’s utter, knee-jerk, nonsense. And nonsense, by the way, that led these bands of crusading think-they-know-it-all do-gooders (read: Committee for Science in the Public Interest and the PETA-backed Physicians for Responsible Medicine) to pressure the powers that be to remove beef tallow, lard, and butter from commercially prepared foods and replace them with ‘healthy’ partially hydrogenated vegetable fats in the first place. Yes, they all previously lobbied to switch to these self-same fats–these trans fats–that they’re now crusading to eliminate from commercial kitchens.
It’s a fact, jack.
The upshot is this: If the skin is oily on fried food, the protein and vegetation lying underneath is still very healthy as it was basically cooked En papillote.
Or better yet, skip the hush puppies and onion rings (it is hard to trust those tasty delights) and double up on the fried haddock servings. Get that protein.
So there you go, the CPSI is hysterically tearing down a basic food staple for no good reason. And, the CPSI is ignoring the true scourge of the vascular system, carbohydrates that build up plaque and lead to heart disease.
Hundreds of excellent scientific articles have linked insulin resistance and more recently leptin resistance to cardiovascular disease much more strongly than cholesterol, and they are in fact at least partially responsible for cholesterol abnormalities. For instance, insulin and leptin resistance result in “small dense” LDL particles and a greater number of particles.
So, give it up, CPSI and try to go after big sugar instead.
It is amazing the credulity with which every other media outlet in the country regurgitates this crap. It’s almost as if paid journalists get the CPSI’s email in their inbox and immediately cut and paste it into a newstory, thankful that some group of food agitators has done their work for them that day. I mean, really? Fish and Chips? The worst thing in the world? I guess they don’t actually teach you journalism at J-school.