Potatoes are a nutritious root vegetable that is naturally free of fat, cholesterol and sodium, low in calories and a good source of vitamin C, antioxidants, potassium and fiber. Yet, when potatoes are sliced and deep fried in oil and processed with other ingredients to enhance their flavor and extend their shelf life, they become unhealthy. Consult your nutritionist about your health, your diet and your consumption of snack foods, including potato chips.
Manufacturers deep fry potatoes in oils or fats to produce many brands of potato chips. These oils and fats add fat and calories to the product, which may increase your risk of gaining weight. Each gram of fat supplies 9 calories, more than twice the amount of calories per gram of carbohydrate or protein which each supply 4 calories per gram. Increasing your weight may increase your risk of obesity and insulin resistance, conditions where your cells do not respond to insulin.
Type 2 Diabetes
Consuming potato chips may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes. Research by scientists at the Department of Nutrition and Epidemiology and Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and published in the "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in 2006 discovered that consuming potatoes, particularly fried potatoes, is associated with the risk of type 2 diabetes in women. The research demonstrated that the risk is more pronounced in obese women.
Manufacturers often use trans fats in producing processed foods, including potato chips. Consuming trans fats may clog your arteries, block the flow of oxygenated blood to your heart and increase your risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack and death. Research by scientists at Harvard School of Public Health and published in "Circulation" in 2007 found that high trans fat consumption is a significant risk factor for coronary heart disease. The American Heart Association says you should limit your intake of trans fat to less than 1 percent of total daily calories.
Acrylamide is a chemical in potato chips that may increase your risks of cancer and nerve damage. Acrylamide forms when you cook potatoes at high temperatures, causing a chemical reaction between sugars and an amino acid called asparagine that are both present in potatoes. Research by scientists at the Department of Food Engineering at the Mersin University in Ciftlikkoy, Turkey, and published in the "Journal of Food Science" in 2010 discovered acrylamide levels in potato chips increases with frying temperature and baking at 170 degrees Centigrade more than doubles the amount of acrylamides formed from frying at the same temperature. The research found that when baking at 180 and 190 degrees Centigrade, acrylamide levels are lower than the frying. Research by scientists at the National Institute of Food and Nutrition in Warsaw, Poland, and published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in 2009 discovered that chronic ingestion of acrylamide-containing potato chip products induces a pro-inflammatory condition which increases the risk for progression of atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries.
- The Regents of the University of California: Calories Count; 2005 (PDF)
- "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition"; Potato and French Fry Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Women; Thomas Halton, et al.; Feb 2006
- "Circulation"; A Prospective Study of Trans Fatty Acids in Erythrocytes and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease; Qi Sun, et al.; Apr 10 2007
- American Heart Association; Know Your Fats 2010
- Food and Drug Administration; Acrylamide Questions and Answers; 2009