Whether it is Thanksgiving or New Year’s Eve, you will most likely be greeted with a plate of steaming delicacy, the hash browns. Or maybe on a busy weekday, at an overcrowded food court, you find yourself reaching for them.
But then you think they might be incredibly flavorsome, but are hash browns healthy? The answer is no.
One of the biggest troubles of recent times is staying on the right track to eating well. After all, the trashiest foods taste the best. Fried and salted items like hash browns thus easily make their way to us.
Let’s learn why it’s not healthy first.
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Hash Browns- They are Not Healthy
If you are feeling frustrated at me for saying that hash browns are not healthy, bear with me as I explain why not:
They are Nothing, But Starch:
Starch is a form of dietary carbohydrate that is one of the crucial pillars of any diet. But a meal that is only starch with absolutely no protein and fat is an unhealthy choice. Hash browns are finely chopped potatoes that are deep-fried.
Since it is considered a solo snack and not taken with other staples, you might munch on these mindlessly, not realizing that you are filling yourself with potential diabetes.
Yup! Starch is eventually broken down into simple monosaccharides, and consumption of too much of it is the leading cause of type 2 diabetes. Excessive amounts of carbohydrates cause bloating in your abdominal area and all around your body and might make you look puffier.
A Huge Amount of Oil:
Unless hash browns are fried in an air fryer, they have an alarming amount of oil. The grease will result in general discomfort after taking too many hash browns, and it will also be a big concern for your heart.
When taken in more than the recommended amount, oil tends to cause severe cardiovascular diseases and obesity. It also causes adult acne and is a significant cause of severe gastric ulcers.
Your stomach is not supposed to receive insults from such oily snacks. And when we consume too much of it, there is a good chance of gastric carcinoma.
Your Local Fast-Food Shop Might be Lying:
Even under the sharp eyes and heavy scrutiny of the Food Department of your locality, your fast-food shop might be reusing age-old oil to fry the hash browns in. They might also be using potatoes that are well beyond their expiry dates (vegetables have expiry dates too, it’s written on their body, not on the package).
Eating hash browns cooked in such an uncertain environment is alright if done rarely. But in the long run, it definitely shouldn’t be your favorite breakfast to grab before the office.
A hundred grams of hash brown contains about 326 calories, all of which are what we call ‘empty calories, meaning: you don’t get much nutrition; you get a bunch of calories.
And when we take it with ketchup, mayo, mustard, or some other sauce, the calorie count skyrockets. If you are an adult of 70 kilograms with a calorie requirement of 2000 calories, you will be spending a significant amount of it on hash browns.
The potatoes in the hash browns are almost always peeled, the peel being the only source of any vitamins and minerals. If you make homemade hash browns and leave the skin on, your hash browns will be relatively healthier.
Even with the peels on, hash browns lose Vitamin C in their entirety. Because Vitamin C is destroyed in high heat, it is precisely what the potatoes are being projected to while being deep-fried.
Unless you are sure that you are eating NON-GMO, organic potatoes only, hash browns can be a harmful source of broken-down pesticides and carcinogenic glyphosates.
This logic goes to almost all potatoes in today’s world (no offense, potatoes!). However, the degree to which hash browns are fried makes it extra bad for your health.
They are Ultra-Processed:
This one is not applicable for the hash browns made by moms to feed their happy little families. It applies explicitly to frozen supermarket hash browns or fast-food store hash browns.
Ultra-processing is essential in the latter two cases to preserve them for a longer time and maintain the same taste every time.
On top of that, hash browns are full of saturated, trans fat and omega six fatty acids. Let me break it down for you if you don’t understand. Unsaturated fats are good for you and help reduce your cholesterol, while saturated trans-fat does the opposite.
Omega 3 is a good fatty acid found in fish. This is another fantastic source of good fat that will increase the biliary excretion of cholesterol from your bloodstream. But omega 6? Not so much.
Say Hi to High Blood Pressure:
Sodium, usually found alongside table salt in the form of sodium chloride, is necessary for physiological functions. Seasonings used in hash browns make it alarmingly high in sodium. But if you consume too much of it, your reward will be high blood pressure, alongside several maladies.
Hyperosmolarity can be caused in your body by Sodium, which will absorb more water to dilute this hyperosmolarity. Then, your blood volume goes up, and your blood pressure goes haywire. Sodium indeed is wreaking havoc on your body.
And we all know what comes after high blood pressure. Prolonged hypertension is a major cause of brain hemorrhage and stroke. So, if you are eating hash browns every day, now is the time you get concerned.
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Hash Browns Can be Healthy!
Since I took you on an emotional roller-coaster telling you how hash browns are unhealthy for you, I am going to try to make it up to you by sharing a few ways you can healthily enjoy your hash browns:
Pick Your Potatoes:
Make sure the potatoes you are eating are organic and free from pesticides. A few years ago, golf balls were found alongside frozen packs of potatoes. That sounds pretty terrifying to me.
Support your local farmers and harvesting companies to get the best of what nature offers to you.
Do Not Peel the Potatoes:
The skin of the potatoes is rich in vitamins and minerals. Besides that, they are pretty tasty and will give your hash browns a lovely and unique texture. Meanwhile, frying any vegetable with their skin on is an excellent way to prevent the vitamins from being fried off.
Use Alternative Oils:
There are several healthy options for oil, such as avocado oil, peanut oil, grape seed oil, etc. Take a stroll down your grocery store and determine which one is affordable and suits your taste buds.
Fry them in Minimal Heat:
Lightly fried snacks pose lesser acidity, gassiness, and peptic ulcer risks. Frying in extreme heat might make your hash browns tastier. But frying them in minimal heat makes them healthier.
Do Not Add Extra Fat:
Except for the oil you need to fry your hash browns, do not add extra fat such as butter. An even better way is to use an air fryer or an electric oven if you can afford them. This will significantly reduce the calorie count as well as the health hazards.
Give Friends to Your Lonely Potatoes:
Add onions and vegetables such as carrots, capsicum, jalapenos, tomatoes to increase the bulk amount while increasing the palatability. This is also a great way to include your daily requirement of veggies in your favorite snack.
Prioritize Hash Brown Patties Over Shredded Ones:
When a vegetable is shredded or chopped, it loses some of its nutritional value while washing. If you cook your hash browns as patties instead of shredded hash browns, they will contain more essential nutrients in the food.
Beware of Seasoning:
Do not add too much salt or any other seasoning that might contain sodium or potassium, as they both tend to cause bloating and high blood pressure, as I mentioned before.
Some safe choices are oregano, garlic powder, paprika powder, pepper, etc. And yes, definitely stay away from monosodium glutamate (sorry, ramen lovers!)
Add Some Meat:
If you are not vegan, add finely chopped pieces of chicken. This will add protein to your hash browns and will keep you full for a much longer time.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Are hash browns good for weight loss?
Hash browns aren’t the best option for you if you’re looking to lose weight as they are full of calories. If you insist on eating it, make sure it’s air-fried.
Are frozen hash brown patties healthy?
No, as they contain mostly sodium, fat, and carbohydrates.
What’s healthier hash browns or pancakes?
Hash brown is healthier as it has fewer calories and less amount of sodium.
The final word is health in moderation. By cutting out hash browns, you will lose the last few pounds of happiness you have left in your life. But your health might thank you.
So, next time your friend asks you, are hash browns healthy? Tell them it is. But only if you cook it for them.