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State Fair fried foods: Are they worth the fat and calories?


It’s State Fair time here in Dallas-Fort Worth, and that usually means one thing: outrageous fried foods!

Every year cooks from around the state compete to come up with the most creative and inventive fried concoctions in hopes of winning the big prize at the Big Tex Choice Awards.

In years past, these culinary creatives have managed to fry Coca-Cola®, butter, even cactus (with the thorns removed, of course). Fried ice cream, fried cookie dough and fried chicken bacon have also made appearances, including a fried cinnamon roll on a stick last year.

But in 2013, they have taken it to another level. Fried Nutella®, Fried Thanksgiving Dinner (which took home the Most Creative Award) and Fried Cuban Roll (which won “Best Tasting”) will all make an appearance.

But with the consumption of this outrageous fried food, what does that mean for your health? We all know that fried foods are bad for your heart, but “just how bad?” is the real question. And if you only eat foods like this once a year at the fair, is it worth the worry?

Stephanie Dean, a registered dietitian at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, was recently interviewed about this topic for “All Things Considered” on NPR. Here’s what she had to say:

“As a dietitian, I can’t think of any worse, or less healthy food choices than the finalists for the Big Texas Fried Food Awards,” says Dean, who estimates the fried finalists contain about 500 to 1,000 calories each.

“So if you’re a 200-pound adult and you plan on going to the State Fair to have the deep-fried Nutella®, you would need to walk for two to five hours to burn off the calories,” Dean says.

Gastrointestinal distress is also a side effect of eating fatty fried foods. According to Dean, if your body isn’t used to digesting such concentrated food, it can lead to all kinds of issues like bloating, nausea, diarrhea, etc.

When it comes to your heart, the American Heart Association recommends that you limit fat intake to 25-35 percent of your total daily calories with saturated fat making up only 7 percent and trans fat making up 1 percent.

According to the AHA, the remaining fat should come from sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as unsalted nuts and seeds, fish (especially oily fish, such as salmon, trout and herring, at least twice per week) and vegetable oils.

To help you navigate the fried food selections at the State Fair this year, we created this handy infographic below that not only includes the estimated amount of fat and calories in popular fried food dishes, but the amount of cardiovascular exercise you may need to burn off the fat and calories.

So what do you think? Is eating the fried food worth it?


About the author

Ashley Howland
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Ashley works in digital communications and social media. She enjoys covering health care news and is interested in health care social media.

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State Fair fried foods: Are they worth the fat and calories?