Walk Talk Nutrition talks chips

Has anyone noticed that chips take up a whole aisle in the grocery store?  We have.

Chips are increasingly being marketed as health food.  You can buy “veggie” chips in addition to corn and potato, although technically potatoes and corn are also vegetables.  You can find chips made with sea salt, or baked in olive oil (still high fat) or non-GMO or gluten-free (aren’t they all??) or organic or natural or sustainable.  All health halo buzzwords designed to obscure the fact that you’re buying chips after all.

Why we like chips:

  • salt
  • fat
  • crunch

Why we think chips are a problem:

  • salt
  • fat
  • calories

Nothing wrong with crunch.

Kathy also raises concerns about acrylamide, a chemical described as a neurotoxin and probable carcinogen.  It’s found in certain starchy foods , such as potatoes, that have been cooked with high heat.  Acrylamide is formed when the amino acid asparagine reacts with certain sugars.  Potato chips and french fries are some of our most concentrated sources.  Research done on rodents using very large doses of acrylamide — up to 10,000 times as much as a human would consume — have shown cancer-causing potential.  However, studies on actual people who eat potato products do not show clear evidence of risk.  The FDA has evaluated some foods for acrylamide content, listed as parts per billion.  That’s not very helpful when the suggested limit is in micrograms — 140 mcg per day, or 0.2 mcg per kilogram body weight.  According to food intake data, an average adult in the US consumes about 35 mcg per day, with chips and french fries representing the largest portion.  So if you don’t eat those foods everyday, your intake will be lower.

And there are plenty of other reasons not to eat high calorie chips every single day.  Empty calories and sodium are two good reasons.  Health halo ingredients like sea salt or olive oil or coconut oil or alternative vegetable ingredients do not justify daily doses of chips.

Our bottom line: occasional chips aren’t a problem.  If chips are a staple food in your diet, you need to rethink that.

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