Eating fried foods can have negative consequences on mental health, according to a study conducted by China’s historic Zhejiang University of Medicine on a population of 140,728 people. Specifically, frequent consumption of fried foods, especially fried potatoes, is strongly associated with a 12 percent higher risk for anxiety and 7 percent higher risk for depression. These associations are more pronounced among male and younger consumers.

The experimental study on zebrafish showed that long-term exposure to acrylamide, a food contaminant found in fried foods, worsens behaviors associated with anxiety and depression, such as the tendency to avoid light and cling to the edges of the container they are in. In addition, acrylamide treatment reduced the expression of a gene that regulates blood-brain barrier permeability.

Experiments have also shown that chronic exposure to acrylamide alters lipid metabolism in the brain, particularly phospholipids and sphingolipids, which play an important role in the development of symptoms of anxiety and depression. In addition, acrylamide promotes lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress, which participate in brain neuroinflammation.

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