New Wendy's 'Natural-Cut' Fries: Are They Any Healthier?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
In a recent 2010 Zagat Fast-Food Survey, Wendy's French fries came in at number four behind industry leader McDonald's, up-and-comer Five Guys and In-N-Out Burger. Perhaps that is why after 41-years, Wendy's has redesigned their fries.

In an attempt to enhance flavor and texture, the new "natural-cut" fries include the skin and sea salt seasoning. They have been designed to be a hotter and crispier fry. The new 100 percent Russet potatoes made their nationwide debut a few weeks ago but they have just arrived in restaurants in our area. They seem to be another focus on wholesome ingredients to appeal to the nutrition conscious just as their new salads were earlier this year. So how do they measure up?

The natural-cut fries from whole potatoes arrive at stores frozen so they are not like those you might find at Penn Station that are freshly cut onsite. They are cooked in a new oil combination to reduce exposure to allergens and ensure zero trans fats per serving. While sea salt is more natural and contains more minerals than standard iodized salt, it still provides sodium that can have negative effects on health when consumed in excess. Sea salt provides a different flavor and a less "salty" taste, which may or may not meet patrons taste expectations. Since the new fries end up being significantly higher in sodium per serving than the originals, Wendy's may have found they needed to use both types of salt to balance flavors.

We tried the new fries here at the SparkPeople home office. Overall, people that liked Wendy's fries before, preferred the old version. Others felt there was a more noticeable potato flavor. Some parents had concern their children might not want them because of the skin. The salt flavor was favorable although there was a slight aftertaste noticed by several people. "It tastes like old oil," commented one taster.

Nutrition Information

Medium serving of new fries

Calories – 420 (10 calories more than original fries)

Fat – 20 grams (1 gram higher than original fries)

Sodium – 500 mg (150 mg more than original fries)

Carbohydrates – 54 grams (2 grams higher than original fries)

Protein – 5 grams (1 gram more than original fries)

Medium serving of original fries

Calories – 410

Fat – 19 grams

Sodium – 350 mg

Carbohydrates – 56 grams

Fiber – 5 grams

Protein – 4 grams

The Bottom Line

The new fries were tested in five test markets around the country for the most of this year. They obviously did well enough to become the new nationwide fry of Wendy's. Use caution with the new fries just as you did with the originals since they are still a fried food that increases fat and calorie consumption. "Natural" refers to the type of cut as well as to the original source but since it is served in fried form, it does not make it the healthiest choice. Sea salt is a less processed form of salt but it is still salt all the same and something to be limited in most diets. Selecting a baked potato with reduced fat sour cream and chives provides 320 calories, 4 grams of fat and only 50 mg of sodium and is a much healthier source of potassium than the fried option. If the new fries are a must, stick with the value size (the smaller box pictured above) for just 220 calories, 11 grams of fat and 270 mg of sodium.

Have you tried the new fries? What did you think?

Which fast food fries do you prefer?

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The old Wendy's fries were the best. They actually tasted like potatoes. Hate the new version. Report
I like how In and Out Burger cuts their potatoes fresh but I don't think we should be promoting fast food fries on SP especially for children. (I feel the same about soda). I like the comment "tastes like old oil". I'm not a big fry eater but if I get a hankering, I tell myself the oil is old. That puts the kibosh on my cravings. Report
I love checkers fries first and Wendy's second. :D Report
I like Checkers. I eat them, but not too often. Report
I made a special trip to try them because I generally love natural cut fries. I was very dissapointed. They were cold and limp. I am sure they had not been cooked in the recent past. I went to the trouble to notify Wendy's, via their website, to let them know what was being served by this location and no one even bothered to respond. I dont under stand. These corps spend millions of $ a year in advertising to get us in the door and all they have to do to keep us is serve food worth eating but instead they serve food my dog would pass on. Report
In 'N' Out! Report
I prefer In n' Out Burger Fries or Red Robin Yummm! Report
I like Culvers Fries but, since I have been on my journey I think I have only had them once in the last two years. Report
I tried the new Wendy's fries yesterday, and I thought they tasted really good - but they were SALTY. Bad bad salty. Report
once in a while i love a french try. do not eat them every day . just once in while .
we need a varity of foods . Report
I remember years ago Richard Simmons sharing that there was no way he would ever put a fry in his mouth, be it home made or fast food. He felt that would be his downfall. Fine for Richard. Personally, I love fast food fries. Hmmm, then again I am still 50 pounds overweight! Sigh. I actually do like the new Wendy's fries as I like the old Wendy's fries. I always add pepper to them. Report
We have a "mom & pop" place in our city and they make the best homemade french fries and homemade potato chips. We go rarely as we make it a treat for special occasions. Report
Barney's Gourmet Burgers in Oakland, CA has the best fries in the East Bay. Fresh, thick cut and crispy... sticklike fast food fries just do not measure up! '-)

If you're going to indulge might as well have the best. Report
I prefer the old Wendy's better, they were the best. I also like the boardwalk fries at our local mall . I always went to Wendy's before because there fries were the best, noe even the burgers are over cooked and I really dislike the new fries. Report
Roy Roger's and Red Robin have the best fries! Report
I like my own homemade fries with the skin on dipped in balsamic vinegar with a tad of sea salt Report
This is heartbreaking news! I LOVE Wendy's (original) fries. Now you're telling me they're going to be thinner and crispier like every other fast food joint. :-( boo. What's wrong with a thicker fry in the fast food industry? Guess I'll have to go to Red Robin next time I want a soft warm treat. Report
Best fries . . .Chick-Fil-A waffle fries. Report
I just tried Wendy's new fries the other day. Wendy's fries have NEVER been good. And after all the fuss and reworking, they're actually unhealthier and still not good.
They did have more of a crunch and a real potato flavor, but I, too, think they also had an oily aftertaste.
Maybe that's just because my body really does like healthier food now! Report
Our family has spent the last six months trying to wein our kids off of fast food and Wendy's just supplied us with the FIX! I decided I would take them to Wendy's and they ate the chicken nuggets, but FINALLY didn't touch their fries, because they "didn't taste good". That night at dinner, my kids finally ate all the vegatables on their plate. So, maybe we are that much closer to getting our kids on the right track of eating scratch made meals like my parents were accustomed too! Report
chick-fil-a Waffle fries!!! Report
New York Fries - have the best fries ever! Report
Wing Stop - BEST fries! Report
Nathan's has the best fries - HANDS DOWN!!! Report
fried food no longer taste good to me and last time I ate some I felt ill afterwards. So no more fried fries for me. Report
chip wagon fries are the best ever! Report
I really prefer the OLD Wendy's fat cut fries over any of the others. Report
If I eat fries, I like Arby's curly fries. Report
Jack in the Box curly fries are my faves from a chain. I also like IHOP. Report
i did try the new wendy's fries and have to say, they were pretty tasty...crispy and i like the flavor Report
I haven't allowed myself to have any fries in over 2 years. Don't tempt me! (LOL) Report
I have not tried the new fries and probably won't. I can't even remember the last time I had french fries.

I did have to LOL a little at your comment about parent's being worried their kids won't like the new Wendy's fries because of the skins. Don't we, as a society, want our children NOT to like fried foods? Wouldn't have the skins on and children thinking they were too "healthy" be a good thing? Report
Best fries I ever had was at a restaurant I worked at called Chip's Chicken Fried Steak Factory. They would cut a whole 1lb potato into fries and throw them right in the grease. Not super crispy but nice potato flavor and being made to order they never tasted as greasy as they actually were. Sadly that place went out of business 25 years ago.

Hard to pick a favorite fry since there are so many styles. I enjoy the matchstick fries at Steak and Shake. The seasoned curly fries at Jack in the Box are good too. The high ratio of surface area to volume makes Chick-fil-a waffle fries particularly tasty. Every fry is good in its own way.

Why is it that everything good is either illegal, immoral, or fattening? Report
I very rarely eat fast food; I haven't had it for at least a year.
If I have to eat it, I order a salad, baked potato or chili. Report
McD's are still my favorite but they have to be right out of the fryer and super hot! Report
Sweet Potato fries, but made with olive oil and in the oven. Report
Chik-fil-a with no salt.

Wendy's will cook fries with no salt if you ask for them when ordering.

Captain D's have the best french fries but Steak n Shake's are good also. Report
I love a little mom and pop fast food place in Appleton. You can get them fresh and hot with no salt. Yum. Report
I love New York Fries, fresh cut, can have balsamic vinegar with them nummy!! Report
I use to like wendy's till they changed them now they are not a crisp fry and really seem to soak up the grease Report
Although I don't eat there anymore, McDonald's will always have to best fries to me! Report
I like Culvers French Fries. Report
I like Culver's French Fries. Report
I do oven baked fries at home, I never ordered fries at any place I eat because they all taste like grease Report
I like Friendly's fries better than anywhere else.

However - fries are no matter how you slice the potatoes (with or without skin, sea salt or iodized salt), they still aren't a healthy choice. Report
I was just making fun of Wendy's new fries last night to my boyfriend, when a commercial for them came on TV. They're trying to appeal to the "organic/natural" market, but those of us who weren't born yesterday can see right through their marketing efforts. All in all, Wendy's should still be avoided just like the rest of the fast food places. Report
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