When you're concerned about your health, deep-fried, crispy potatoes are off the menu. But that doesn't mean you can't satisfy your craving for crunchy spuds. Dehydrated potato chips and aren't quite like the real thing, but they are a lot better for your heart and your waistline.
Why Dehydrate Your Spuds?
Almost no one doesn't like crispy, crunchy, greasy potato chips. But almost no one likes gaining weight or getting heart disease or cancer either, and those are all risks associated with consuming fried foods. According to results of a prospective cohort study published in January 2019 in the BMJ, eating fried foods regularly is associated with a higher risk of death from heart diseases and all causes in American women.
This is due primarily to the high amounts of fat and sodium in fried foods — including potato chips and french fries. Take, for example, the American favorite — BBQ flavor potato chips. One serving, which is 1 ounce, provides 9 grams of fat and 320 milligrams of sodium, according to the USDA.
Of the 9 grams of fat in a serving of BBQ potato chips, 1.5 grams are saturated. Saturated fat can increase cholesterol and raise your risk of heart disease, and the American Heart Association recommends a maximum of 5 to 6 percent of calories from saturated fat — but less is better.
Excess sodium increases blood pressure, high levels of which are also a risk factor for heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends a maximum of 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. However, it suggests that an ideal limit is 1,500 milligrams a day. One serving of chips would make up more than one-fifth of that total.
To make matters worse, most people don't eat just 1 ounce of potato chips. Be honest, once you start, it's hard to stop, especially when you're eating right from the bag.
Read more: 9 Better-for-You Potato Chip Swaps
The American Cancer Society warns that cooking starchy foods at a high temperature causes the formation of a potentially carcinogenic substance called acrylamide. Whether or not the amount in foods poses a real risk to human health is still under investigation.
Making Dehydrated Potato Chips
The good news is that you can eat more than 1 ounce of dehydrated potato chips without breaking the fat and sodium bank. The other good news is that whipping up a batch of dehydrated potato chips is super simple. All you need is a food dehydrator, some spuds, spices and a little bit of heart-healthy olive oil to make these low-calorie, crispy, flavorful versions of your favorite snack foods.
To make salt and vinegar chips:
1. Scrub the potatoes under warm water with a potato scrubber or coarse cloth; then dry thoroughly.
2. Slice the potatoes very thin using a mandolin or a very sharp knife — with caution. You can peel the potatoes or leave the skin on. The skin provides extra nutrients and fiber.
3. Soak the sliced potatoes in apple cider vinegar or white vinegar overnight. This breaks down the starches in the potato so they are less chalky.
4. Rinse the potatoes well and toss with a small amount of olive oil — just enough to lightly coat the slices.
5. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Keep in mind that 1/4 teaspoon has 590 milligrams of sodium, according to the USDA, so be conservative. You can always add more after dehydrating if you think it really needs it.
6. Place the slices in the dehydrator and dry for at least 12 hours. Test the chips, and remove them from the dehydrator when they are to your desired crispness.
To make BBQ flavored chips:
Follow all the steps above, but in addition to the salt, add smoked paprika, onion powder and garlic powder to taste.
- BMJ: "Association of Fried Food Consumption With All Cause, Cardiovascular, and Cancer Mortality: Prospective Cohort Study"
- USDA FoodData Central: "BBQ Potato Chips"
- American Heart Association: "Saturated Fat"
- American Heart Association: "How Much Sodium Should I Eat per Day?"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Potatoes, White, Flesh and Skin, Raw"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Sweet Potato, Raw, Unprepared (Includes Foods for USDA's Food Distribution Program)"
- Hippocrates Health Institute: "Dehydrated BBQ Sweet Potato Chips (Raw Vegan & Oil Free)"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Salt"