SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - When you go out to eat or head to a drive-thru, french fries are almost always on the menu.
That's why it may be no surprise that potatoes are the most consumed vegetable in the U.S. per year.
Warm, salty and they pair with almost anything.
"I love fries, yes, I kind of lean towards sweet potato fries, but yes," Jo Vandersnick said.
Vandersnick says while she enjoys french fries, she considers them a treat during meal times.
"It's not really the issue of potatoes, I get that question a lot. Are potatoes bad for you? Are sweet potatoes bad for you? Really anything in excess is going to be bad for you," Registered dietitian Lizzie Kasparek said.
Kasparek says it all comes down to the oil they are fried in.
"Restaurants aren't changing their oil every single day and over time when that oil is heating up over and over that can actually change the oil. So it can cause the fats, typically omega 6 fatty acids, which Americans eat too much of anyway, it can actually cause that to oxidize," Kasparek said.
Oxidized vegetable oils can result in inflammation in the body, leading to health issues such as heart disease or stroke. But you don't have to say goodbye to fries altogether, instead Kasparek says be mindful.
"Don't eat out of the bag. If you can put something on a plate, or at least lay out the wrapper on your table it makes you more aware of actually how much you are eating at that time," Kasparek said.
Dietitians say portion control is crucial, so pay attention to serving sizes. In this bag, it's just 13 pieces.
And when you can, it may be a good idea to share your salty side to cut down on calories, and as Vandersnick says, the bill.
"We share so that's wonderful for us and cost effective," Vandersnick said.
Lastly, Kasparek says you don't always have to consume your entire meal at once.
"Putting part of it in your to-go box. It's OK to bring stuff home and eat it the next day, so you don't need to feel like you need to eat it all right now," Kasparek said.
So you can avoid health issues, while still enjoying a food favorite.
For more tips on portion control, click here.