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Fast-Food French Fries: Which Are Healthiest?

The 'Recipe Doctor' rates the best and worst fast-food fries.

The Worst French Fries

Highest in Calories:

  1. Carl's Jr. Natural Cut small fries (116 g): 540 calories
  2. In & Out regular fries (125 g): 400 calories

Highest in Fat:

  1. Carl's Jr. Natural Cut small fries (116 g) = 25 grams total fat
  2. Arby's small curly fries (106 g) = 20 grams total fat

Highest Percentage of Calories From Fat:

  1. Arby's Curly Fries, small (106 g): 53%
  2. Chick-fil-A Waffle Potato fries (85 g): 51%

Highest in "Bad Fat" (saturated and trans fats)

  1. Jack in the Box Natural Cut fries, small (124 g): 9 grams (4 grams saturated fat and 5 grams trans)
  2. Long John Silvers basket combo portion (113 g): 7 grams (3.5 grams saturated fat and 3.5 grams trans)

Lowest in Fiber:

  1. In & Out fries (125 g): 2 grams fiber (tied with No. 2)
  2. Sonic Drive-In regular (75 g): 2 grams fiber

Highest in Sodium:

  1. Carl's Jr. Natural Cut fries (116 g): 1360 mg sodium
  2. Arby's curly fries, small (106 g): 791 mg sodium

The Fast-Food French Fries Health Loser

And the award for worst fast-food french fry, healthwise, goes to ... Carl's Jr. Natural Cut French Fries which are highest in calories and grams of fat. Sharing the award is Jack in the Box Natural Cut fries, which are shockingly high in "bad fats" (4 grams saturated fat and 5 grams trans fat).

A Healthier French Fries Recipe

If you really want healthier French fries, your best bet is to make them yourself. Here is a lower-fat, lower-calorie french fries recipe that could give fast-food fries a run for the money.

Parsley-Parmesan Oven French Fries


4 medium (or 3 large) unpeeled russet potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch thick strips

4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil (canola oil can be substituted)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a nonstick jellyroll pan with canola oil cooking spray.
  2. In large zip-top plastic bag, combine potatoes with olive oil and salt; seal bag and toss to coat potatoes well.
  3. Arrange potatoes in single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown, turning after 25 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine Parmesan cheese and parsley. When fries are light brown, sprinkle the Parmesan cheese mixture over the top and bake about 5 minutes more. Remove pan from oven; let cool for 2 minutes before serving.

Yield: 4 servings

WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as: 3/4 cup starchy foods with 1 tsp fat

Nutritional Information: Per serving: 287 calories, 9 g protein, 50 g carbohydrates, 6.1 g fat, 1.8 g saturated fat, 6 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 406 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 19%.


Recipes provided by Elaine Magee.

Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, is the "Recipe Doctor" for WebMD and the author of numerous books on nutrition and health. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.

Reviewed on March 18, 2009

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