How Dangerous Are My Potato Chips?

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Hidden in those crisps is something you should never have in your body

Potato chips are fun snacks to munch on while watching a movie or football game. In fact, they taste great with almost everything — cream cheese dips, spreads, salsa, guacamole, even ice cream. Of course, if you are a purist, chips are fine just by themselves.

We know they are not too healthy, but how bad can it get? After all, they are potatoes and a source of energy. At the very most, after wolfing down a bag of chips, you have the choice of eating less rice at dinner to prevent a carbohydrate overload, right?


The problem with the common potato chip is that it has an ingredient that is not friendly to balanced diets: trans-fats.

Why is it bad?

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.

What happens when we eat potato chips?

A diet high in trans-fats leads to obesity, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease and diabetes — but if you think that the harm only comes later in life, you are mistaken. People who consumed high levels of trans-fat were found to have weight problems, liver failure, infertility (for women) and higher risks of depression.

That's definitely not a pretty picture.

Where is it found?

Naturally present in small amounts in animal-based products, it's been increasingly present in high quantities in the food we eat every day. Some food products use hydrogenated vegetable oils, which are full of trans-fats, because they are cheaper and help prolong the shelf life of the products.

To take our potato chip example: based on one serving of 15 potato chips, over one-third of that snack is fat by weight; nearly one-third of that fat is trans-fat. It is nearly the equivalent of eating six chips of pure fat for every 15 potato chips you snack on! And that's not mentioning the sodium and other preservatives that usually come with it.

What, no snacks for me?

You might feel that snacks like potato chips are cheap, easy-to-find and satisfying. But when snacking comes at the cost of a balanced, active and vibrant lifestyle, suddenly that bag of chips isn't worth it at all.

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