Q: My wife insists that the baked potato chips are a healthier alternative than the traditional fried chips? I think they usually taste kind of bland and not worth eating. What do you think?”
A: It seems as if this is yet another supposedly “healthy” food the manufacturers are producing to keep their market share. Your wife has fallen prey to the advertising strategy employed to think we are doing good things for our bodies and making better choices.
Let’s look at potato chips.The original potato chip has 3 ingredients: potato, oil, salt. In addition to the high calorie and salt content the concern here is the oil and transfat used to fry the chips. It is a saturated fat and the high temperatures used to make them ensures exposure to the carcinogen acrylamide.
Now let's look at the baked potato chip label: dried potatoes, corn starch, sugar, corn oil, salt, soy lecithin and corn sugar. Instead of real potato they use dried potato flakes. No information is given as to how they became dried flakes or what heat process was used. Most likely a very high heat was used, then acrylamide would be formed just like the fried chips. In addition, corn starch, corn oil and soy lecithin are used. Since the package is not marked organic in all likelihood all these ingredients are from genetically modified sources. (Studies show that more than 85% of these corn and soy products are now GMO) Given that GMO corn is linked to liver and kidney damage in comprehensive experiments, these are not the innocuous ingredients the food manufacturers would have you believe.
In addition, sugar and corn sugar (aka high fructose corn syrup) are stealthily included, which means that while you are getting less of the unhealthy vegetable oils in the baked chips you are instead getting a dose of unnecessary sugar and other genetically modified ingredients.
Baked chips are much more processed than traditional chips and would make them a questionable choice for healthy eating. So when you go to one of those restaurant chains that offers a choice of regular or healthy chips say, “No Thanks!” Or better yet bring a healthy lunch from home and use carrots or celery to give yourself that satisfying crunch.
Here is an easy, much healthier version of potato chips you can make at home.
2 russet potatoes, peeled, soaked in cold water and thinly sliced to 1/8 inch thick, 2 TBS cider vinegar or white wine, salt and pepper to taste, 1 TBS chili powder. Preheat oven to 350F. Arrange potato slices directly onto oven rack (or cooling rack) in a single layer. Bake until golden brown and crispy, about 8 to 10 minutes. Place in serving bowl and sprinkle lightly with vinegar, chili, salt and pepper.