By: Pallavi Vathiar. Practicing Clinical Nutritionist, Mumbai.
Chips are an inexpensive, tasty and easily available snack, but the toll they take on your body may not be worth the pleasure. A standard serving of potato chips measures about an ounce and has about 153 calories.
A lot of the harmful effects of potato chips come from the way in which they are cooked. The perfect chip is fried until it is lightly golden brown. Achieving this technique requires high heat. Chips are traditionally washed, blanched and deep-fat fried until completely crispy. While fat certainly can make foods tasty, it’s long been known that foods that are high in fat are typically not good for you. Beyond this, frying foods using high heat can affect their nutrient content. This is exactly what happens to chips. The process of washing, blanching and frying causes the potatoes to lose most of their beneficial nutrients, including antioxidants (1).
Trans-fats aren’t your average pan-greasing oils. If you can imagine a scale from the bad fat (like animal fat, which causes heart disease and clogs arteries) to the good fat (like fish oil, which is essential for bodily function and eliminates bad fat), most types of trans-fat sit squarely on the bad side. In fact, even though much of them are vegetable-based, they are second in badness only to saturated fat like bacon grease. For the quantities of trans-fat we allow ourselves to eat, we do not actually need any of it because it does not give us essential nutrition — on the flip side, if we eat too much of it we put ourselves at risk of all sorts of diseases (1).
Chips are typically high in fat and calories, which can raise the risk of weight gain and obesity. One ounce of plain potato chips, or about 15 to 20 chips, contains about 10 grams of fat and 154 calories. A 2015 study in “Health Affairs” found that potatoes fried in oil (including chips) were among the foods most strongly linked to weight gain. Being overweight or obese raises the risk of diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer (2).
One of the most suspicious ingredients in potato chips is a byproduct of the processing_ Neurotoxin chemical- acrylamide causing cancer potentially is created when foods rich in carbohydrate are cooked at high temperatures, whether fried, baked, toasted or roasted (3).
Most chips are deep-fried, a process that creates trans fats, the most dangerous type. In addition, the oils used for frying chips are often saturated fats, which also contribute to high cholesterol levels. High levels of trans fats in the bloodstream are associated with high levels of LDL cholesterol and an increased risk of coronary heart disease. High levels of trans fat in the diet are correlated to high levels in the blood.
High Blood Pressure
A high intake of sodium can cause an increase in blood pressure, which can lead to stroke, heart failure, coronary heart disease and kidney disease. Potato chips generally have between 120 and 180 milligrams of sodium per ounce, and tortilla chips can have 105 to 160 milligrams of sodium per ounce. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most people should limit their salt consumption to 2,300 milligrams per day, while individuals over 50, African-Americans and anyone with high blood pressure, kidney disease or diabetes should not consume more than 1,500 milligrams per day (4).
Potato chips have been compared to toxic drugs and alcoholic drinks. It is not because these chips cause toxic effects, but because of the fact that they compel you to eat them again and again. They lead to an addiction, where you can’t control the consumption and the sub-standard ingredients lead to obesity and even blood pressure issues. They are tasty and filling, but at the same time are full of harmful effects that make them fall in the category of junk food. According to health experts, they cause similar damage to the digestive tract that junk foods like noodles and fries do (5).