Diana Nelson

Potato Chips. A Tasty Treat Or Hidden Danger?

The unhealthy truth about the popular snack revealed.

chips potato

The most famous legend about potato chips goes like this: One day in 1853, the shipping and railway baron Cornelius Vanderbilt was dining at Moon’s Lake House restaurant. Disappointed by the fried potatoes he received, he sent them back to the kitchen, asking for more finely sliced. George Crum, the famous Native American and black chef, resented this request and in an ‘I’ll show him!’, sliced some potatoes as thinly as he could, fried them to a nice crisp and served them to Vanderbilt. To Cram’s surprise, Vanderbilt liked them, and potato chips were born.

Thanks to this legend, perhaps potato chips have survived to this day and become firmly established in the diet of many people.

Source: USDA
Source: USDA

Why potato chips are not good for you

Plain salted potato chips are a low-nutrient, high-calorie food that can contribute to weight gain and other health problems if consumed in excess.


Key factors which make potato chips bad

Eating chips and similar fried, fatty foods can lead to an unhealthy diet, resulting in weight gain and negative effects on your health.

1Have potential risk of triggering cancer

Potato chips contain the highest concentrations of acrylamide of all foods. Acrylamide is a chemical created in certain foods that are cooked at high temperatures. Because chips are sliced so thin and fried so hot, they’re even heavier in acrylamide than French fries. Fries only have acrylamide in the golden crust, not the core. But potato chips, being nothing but the crust, therefore have higher levels of acrylamide.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) announced that it has concluded that acrylamide in food is a chemical that can develop during high-temperature cooking potentially raising the risk of cancer.

The process of acrylamide creation typically happens when foods are browned. In general, as it is almost impossible to completely eliminate acrylamide from the diet, that is why EFSA recommends being more selective about home cooking and greater variety in the diet.

2Contain harmful trans fats

Food labels that say ‘No trans fats’ fill grocery shops, so many consumers may think that they have eliminated trans fats from their diet. Think again.

The Food and Drug Administration allows manufacturers to state on a label that a product has 0 grams of trans fat even if the item contains up to 0.5 grams.

Some of the biggest violators are packaged snacks such as potato chips. Trans fats are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. They increase bad (LDL) cholesterol and lower good (HDL) cholesterol which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Don’t rely on ‘No trans fat’ labels. You should look for ‘partially hydrogenated oil’ in the ingredients list to avoid trans fat in your diet.

3Make you gain weight without realizing

They may be popular, but they’re not good for you. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, potato chips are near the top of the list of foods most likely to make you gain weight.

This study was conducted with three separate cohorts of 120 877 women and men without chronic disease or obesity at baseline, with follow-up periods from 1986 to 2006, from 1991 to 2003 and from 1986 to 2006. The relationship between lifestyle factors and weight change was assessed at 4-year intervals. For each 4-year period, participants gained an average of 3.35 pounds. Based on the increase in daily portions of selected dietary components, weight change over 4 years was most strongly associated with the consumption of potato chips (1.69 lb).

4Makes you feel puffy and swollen

Liz Lehman, MD, a certified and licensed anaesthetist and founder of Aluminate Life, tells us that ‘The number one sign of eating too many chips is feeling swollen and puffy, especially your hands, feet and lips. This is due to water retention from excess salt.’

You may also feel puffy and bloated due to weight gain caused by eating too many high-calorie chips. The size of chip bags is getting bigger and bigger. Manufacturers know it’s hard to stop eating chips once you start. The more salty, high-fat chips you eat, the more you want.

Healthhack from Healthypedia

One serving is 1 ounce or 18 chips. But even eating one serving of potato chips a day is a lot. Alexis Parcells, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon and owner of Parcells Plastic Surgery says that you should really be limiting your potato chip consumption to no more than the palm of your hand.

Some factors that are good

Although potato chips are not the healthiest dietary choice, there is still something good in them. There is no pure evil among foods.


1Contain vitamins and minerals

Chips contain some B-complex vitamins, as well as potassium. They also contain small amounts of fibre, protein and other nutrients.

Key micronutrients in Chips, stats Source:

2Inexpensive snack

The potato chips are not expensive at all, they’re yummy and have a great crunch.

Potato Chips. Experiment by Healthypedia

Anna is Healthypedia’s helper and diligent glucose monitoring volunteer. She has a family history of metabolic issues, diabetes specifically, and she decided to find out what foods and dishes are bad and good for her. Anna uses continuous glucose monitor and the app which shows how the food affects her blood glucose, and displays it in the meal score from 1 (bad) to 10 (good).
Potato chips test Nutrition
Blood glucose

Potato chips are a favourite snack for many, but they’re not the best choice if you want to be healthy. I almost never eat them, so it was a very interesting experience to find out how my body reacts to chips. After having just a small amount (75 g) I felt stuffed and couldn’t go on. The results of the blood glucose monitor were far from perfect. It’s not the end of the world, but for half a serving the score is quite low.

Healthypedia - Anna
Anna Healthypedia’s tester

How to give up potato chips – healthy alternatives

There are several ways to make potato chips healthier:

1. Baking instead of frying. Baked potato chips have fewer calories and less fat than fried chips.

2. Using sweet potatoes. Sweet potato chips are a healthier alternative to regular potato chips as they are high in fibre and vitamins A and C.

3. Using less salt. Reduced sodium potato chips are a healthier option as they are lower in salt and can help lower blood pressure.

4. Adding herbs and spices. Adding herbs and spices to potato chips can add flavour and nutrients without adding extra calories or sodium.

5. Buying other alternatives. You can buy beetroot chips and corn chips for variety and satisfy their taste buds with other flavours.

6. Making your own. Making your own potato chips at home allows you to control the ingredients and cooking methods, making them a healthier option than store-bought chips.

It’s important to note that even with these alternatives, potato chips should still be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Let’s summarise

Potato chips are a popular snack among young people. Regular consumption of chips in large quantities will lead to health problems such as cancer, weight gain, and heart disease. Even though chips contain some vitamins and minerals, they do not save the situation as a balanced and varied healthy diet.

When you are faced with the choice of buying chips or not, think twice. Do you really want to put your health at such risk, especially if you are young and full of energy?

Not enough? Here is more from our colleagues!

This video from the Glow and Fit YouTube channel discusses potato chips and what consuming them regularly can do to you. Let’s watch!

In a video prepared by the YouTube channel AsapSCIENCE, which counts 10 million subscribers, the channel demonstrates what would happen to your body if you ate nothing but potato chips all the time.

Healthypedia FAQ

Potato chips are thin slices of potatoes that have been deep-fried or baked until they are crispy. They are often seasoned with salt and other flavourings.

Potato chips should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. They should also be consumed within a few weeks of opening to ensure maximum freshness and crispiness.

Yes, potato chips can be frozen. However, freezing can cause the chips to lose their crispiness. To freeze potato chips, place them in an airtight container or freezer bag and store them in the freezer for up to 6 months.

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