Most people tend to feel guilty when they rip open a bag of chips. Mostly this is because there have been repeated warnings in the press and from doctors and other health professionals about how unhealthy potato chips are. Most people don’t realize though just to what great extent America’s favorite junk food can ruin their health. Read on for some shocking facts about your favorite potato chips.
Chips are Designed to Cause Addiction
Everyone has had this happen to them: you go to a party or meeting at work where there is a bowl of potato chips out and wind up eating about half the bowl all by yourself, sometimes without even realizing it! There is a reason for this, says Michael Moss, in his new book Salt, Sugar and Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.” Moss explains in this that chips are actually designed to stimulate certain centers in the brain that lead a person to want to eat more – in other words, chips are designed to be addictive.
What makes this problem worse is the brain is apparently hard-wired to crave salty, fatty or sugary foods, so making these chips addictive is really not too hard! Adding enough salt and fat to them seems to be sufficient to make the body crave more.
Potato Chips can Cause Cancer
Many potato chips contain a chemical called acrylamide, a suspected carcinogen whose presence in the chips makes them one of the most toxic foods in the processed food market (and there is some pretty fierce competition in that department).
Acrylamide is not an additive, like the artificial sweeteners or preservatives in most processed foods that are so bad for you. Acrylamide is actually formed during the process of making the chips themselves. When any high-carbohydrate food is baked at temperatures above 212 degrees Fahrenheit, acrylamide is a by-product of this process. And the composition of potato chips makes this problem even worse: most whole foods do not form as high a level of acrylamide as foods rich in starch – and potatoes are extremely starchy.
How to Avoid Acrylamide?
While it is not possible to entirely avoid acrylamide in the diet, there are some things you can do to minimize your exposure, including the following:
Eat more home-cooked food, which generally shows lower levels of acrylamide. Eat more raw minimally processed foods and foods in the their natural state. Try to eliminate the worst culprits doughnuts, potato chips and French fries from your diet
So the next time you find yourself reaching for a bag of potato chips to start munch, try to skip it and go for fresh fruits or vegetables to snack on instead. You will not only be saving a lot of fat and calories, you will be limiting your exposure to carcinogens as well.