Baked Chips as Bad or Worse Than Fried

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist December 8, 2011

Most consumers associate the word “baked” with “healthy”.

This would certainly be true in home cooking.   A baked potato, for example, would be a more nourishing choice than a fried potato given that starch subjected to high heat cooking forms acrylamide, a potent carcinogen.  Acrylamide forms even if a healthy cooking oil suitable for high heat cooking is used, like ghee, coconut oil or tallow.

What about processed foods like baked chips?  Does the same truism that baked is healthier than fried hold up or is it just marketing bling?

Fried Potato Chips

Let’s take a look at the labels for a popular brand of baked and fried potato chips.

The ingredients for the fried chips are very simple:  potatoes, oil, and salt. The oils used are very unhealthy as you can’t fry in sunflower, corn, or canola oil without completely denaturing them. The fact that the oils aren’t hydrogenated means nothing as the oils are still highly toxic from being cooked at high temperatures. In addition, frying the potatoes would ensure exposure to the carcinogen acrylamide.

Are the fried chips healthy?  Of course not.

Now let’s look at the ingredients label for the baked chips.  The potatoes used are dried so they aren’t even fresh potatoes!  No information on how the potatoes were dried is provided.  If the potatoes were dried using a very high heat, which is likely, then acrylamide would be formed just like with the fried chips as the lower temperature baking occurs after the drying process!

Tricky, tricky, eh?

Baked Potato Chips

In addition, corn starch, corn oil, and soy lecithin are used and since they are not organic, there is a high likelihood that these ingredients are from genetically modified (GMO) sources.

Given that GMO corn is linked to liver and kidney damage in rats, these are not the innocuous ingredients 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 getting in return ingredients that are perhaps just as bad!

Two US studies in 2009 found almost half the tested samples of commercial high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to be contaminated with mercury.   Even if not contaminated with mercury, many scientists note that HFCS can dramatically increase the risk of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and liver damage.

So it would seem that the baked chips are no better than the fried chips after all!

Buying the baked chips is basically robbing Peter to pay Paul by swapping one set of toxins for another. In fact, the baked chips may actually be the more unhealthy choice in the final analysis as the baked chips are more highly processed than the fried chips and contain more genetically modified ingredients and likely a bit of neurotoxic mercury to boot.

Some well known restaurant chains like to make a big deal out of the fact that they offer baked chips, but now you know that this choice is no better and likely even worse than the fried chips alternative.

So when the cashier asks you if you’d like to add a bag of “healthy” baked chips to your Subway order, you can politely just say, “No thanks!”.   Better yet, don’t even eat at Subway and pack yourself a decent lunch instead!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Sources:  Independent Living, Hard Truths About Soft Drinks, November 2011

Monsanto’s Corn Linked to Organ Failure

 

Comments (74)

  1. I use to buy Kettlebrand’s baked chips thinking they would be a healthier snack, but I soon realized they were no better than any other kind of chips. They still contained vegetable oils cooked at high heat and GMO-derived ingredients. Once again, Big Food has found another way to trick the masses into consuming fraudulently “healthy” products.
    Kelli\’s last post: Managing and Preventing Diabetes Naturally

    Reply
  2. What is considered high heat? I put potatoes in the oven with tallow and bake them to make fries. Would this still cause them to become carcinogenic?

    Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      You’re still going to get some acrylamide as acrylamide forms even when bread is baked. But it won’t be nearly as much as when you fry them. This is a good reason to limit cooked starches – period. BUT, boiling potatoes does not form any acrylamides. So mashed potatoes (with lots of butter of course ) are a great alternative. Also, sourdough bread is cooked at much lower temps than yeasted bread so this is another reason to eat bread prepared in this traditional manner as it would have far less acrylamide.

      Refined carbs from the store even if organic are LOADED with acrylamide by the way.
      Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: Baked Chips as Bad or Worse Than Fried

      Reply
      • Reason #453,967,004 to eat lovely, homemade mashed potatos with tons of butter and cream and garlic and salt and lemon zest (YUM!), instead of nasty, processed junk. This is why I’m so glad my family has never eaten any of this type of junk before we totally went over to a WAPF way of eating. Mommy, if you’re reading this, THANK you. As in, a whole bunch!

        Reply
        • You’re lying to yourself if you think those mashed potatoes are any healthier than potato chips.

          Natural and home cooked does not equal healthy.

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  3. Call me unconvinced. Granted, this is a blog, not a scientific paper, but a lot of was said without saying much of anything at all. For instance: if the potatoes were dried using a very high heat, which is likely, then acrylamide would be formed just like with the fried chips. “If” they’re dried with high heat tells us nothing about what is actually going on. “High heat” tells us nothing about how high the temperature needs to be to form any determined amount of acrylamide. And no mention is given of how much acrylamide is okay to have as opposed to how much is not okay. Again: there is a high likelihood that these ingredients are from genetically modified (GMO) sources. “A high likelihood” again tells us nothing about where these ingredients came from and “genetically modified” likewise tells us nothing because it is possible for somehting to be genetically modified in a way that is not any less harmful than natural modifications. And again: Given that GMO corn is linked to liver and kidney damage in rats. How is it linked? Almost anything can be linked to something. The amount of sleep the rats got could be a link. We have been told nothing about what actually happens and what causes it. Perhaps, for all we know, the “link” is between extremely high doses of GMO relative to their normal intake and that rats who had small amounts equal to a regular person’s consumption would have had no noticable increase in liver or kidney damage. And finally: In addition, sugar and corn sugar (aka, high fructose corn syrup) are stealthily included… Okay, I’ll grant sugar on there. But corn syrup shows up last. How much was used as the last and final ingredient in order to make any difference? How much has to be used to make a difference? How do we know anything like that was used? We are given no information, again, on whether any supposed harmful ingredient is actually harmful or not. So in conclusion, I have to say that while I like that you are exposing what is or might be going into these foods, because of the lack of any facts, you’ve done little more than write a conspiracy piece.

    Reply
      • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

        Did you even go to the source studies, by the way? It’s folks with this type of attitude that don’t tend to get it until they are really sick and by then, it’s many times too late because it’s really difficult to make the necessary dietary/habit changes when you are really ill as you are then detoxing from all the years eating the garbage food on top of it all.
        Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: Baked Chips as Bad or Worse Than Fried

        Reply
        • Thanks for the reply, Sarah.
          >> Sounds like you need more than common sense to convince you.<> Did you even go to the source studies, by the way?<<
          If there was something significant in those sources, I assume you would have pointed it out. If you can't include any specific facts, then why should I go elsewhere? I'm not bashing you. Just constructive criticism. If you want to convince someone who doesn't already believe what you're saying, the best way to do it is to back it up. A little common sense for ya since that seems to be your modus operandi.

          Reply
          • Somehow, that didn’t work. Let’s try it again.

            Thanks for the reply, Sarah.

            “Sounds like you need more than common sense to convince you.”

            I’m not entirely certain wanting facts is the opposite of common sense. Can’t common sense and facts work together?

            “Did you even go to the source studies, by the way?”

            I figured there was no point. I mean, if there was something significant to say, I assume you would have pointed it out. If you can’t include any specific facts, then why should I go elsewhere? I’m not bashing you. Just constructive criticism. If you want to convince someone who doesn’t already believe what you’re saying, the best way to do it is to back it up. A little common sense for ya since that seems to be your modus operandi.

    • Okay, “The Dave”, just wondering if you have done your research? It appears to me that you are quite opinionated and not well read on these issues. Am I understanding you correctly? It is okay to be poisoned in millimeters vs inches? Just a suggestion, but you might want to dig a little deeper past the propaganda that you have been indoctrinated into for probably most of your life. It takes a real leap of faith to step outside the box and just LOOK at another opinion or view that doesn’t fit what you have been told. For me, that moment came when my Dad died from chemo complications. I am a major skeptic, but finally found the guts to find out for myself and NOT believe anything until I could verify that it is true. I also have 28 years as a medical professional; I have had first hand experience with mainstream medicine. I am not trying to be discourteous, but this blog is for those who are willing to look at things that most people don’t or won’t take time to see for themselves. “Condemnation without investigation is the heighth of ignorance.”~ Albert Einstein

      Reply
      • “Okay, “The Dave”, just wondering if you have done your research?”

        I’m not the one who wrote the article.

        “It appears to me that you are quite opinionated and not well read on these issues.”

        If opinionated means asking for evidence before believing something, sure.

        “It is okay to be poisoned in millimeters vs inches?”

        I go out every month or two and have a glass of poison called alcohol. I breathe a bit of poison every day in the air above my city. I’m not going to freak out about a glass of alcohol or having to breathe in my city.

        “Just a suggestion, but you might want to dig a little deeper past the propaganda that you have been indoctrinated into for probably most of your life.”

        Let’s take for a moment that I have been indoctrinated. I come to this blog post and read something that is, hopefully, here to help me out. And I write what I wrote above. What do you think the issue is? Maybe this post wasn’t deep enough for someone who’s indoctrinated. Nah. It couldn’t be that. It must be my fault entirely. Fail on me for not knowing the facts that I wasn’t given.

        “this blog is for those who are willing to look at things that most people don’t or won’t take time to see for themselves”

        Well, then maybe it’s failing to do much more than speak to the crowd. Sorry. I’m also not being discourteous. Just saying how it is. If I’m ignorant after this reading this blog post, whose fault is that?

        Reply
        • The Dave….Sounds like you are interested in learning more. This is a bit of a time commitment, but if you watch it, I guarantee that you will in the least, be better informed about the sugar/liver connection. Youtube: Sugar: The bitter Truth. It is a talk given by a physician at UCSF. Pass it on.

          In health,
          Brie

          Reply
        • Sorry, but you are being discourteous. All you had to do was ask where that information is located. Sarah has always been so helpful to anyone who wants to read the data and find out for themselves. It just didn’t seem like that was your motive. If you are ignorant after this, it is because you neither looked nor asked. Don’t wait; find out for yourself. It is crucial. (Not the potato chips; all the info that has been withheld from the mainstream.)

          Reply
    • Wow, somebody didn’t eat their pastured eggs with butter this morning! Seriously, go drink a nice cup of mint tea, maybe with a little raw honey and coconut oil in it. It’ll make you feel MUCH better, I promise! Or better yet, just actually eat those buttered eggs, make up for missing out this morning.

      Reply
  4. None of these factory foods are worth eating. If what shows on the label is not bad enough, and it is, the Government allows them to leave many ingredients off the label entirely – like nanites and some flavor enhancers, and a host of chemicals that are used in small quantities, but were never part of the human food chain. And quite possibly some new horrors we have never heard of, as them keep inventing new artificial ingredients and adding them to processed foods.

    Cook from scratch, with the most natural and unmodified ingredients you can find and afford. It does take time, but the more cooking you do, the easier and faster it gets.

    Reply
  5. Thanks for the info Sarah! I had no idea! I thought that as long as what I was frying was a healthy food and the fat I was using was good, then we were ok! So much for my chips and guac I am craving! Does the same apply for meats cooked at a high temp, such as a roast?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • If you juice, making crackers from the pulp is a fantastic way to satisly your craving for something crunchy WITHOUT carcinogens. Just mix about a cup of pulp with a few tablespoons of arrowroot powder, a pastured egg, a little salt, and a little milk. Spread it out nice and thin, then put it in a very low-temp oven for a few hours, just until it’s crunchy (not hard). We do ours at about about 170 or lower on convection. These little crackers are great grain-free snacks, and wonderful vehicles for raw cheese and butter! :D

      Reply
  6. yuck, formed potato chips. Gross. Health reasons aside, why would anyone want to eat a formed potato chip, baked or otherwise? It’s akin to eating a formed chicken nugget – how disgusting!

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  7. i think my wife and i will change our family eating habits because dave doesnt have enough scientific data to let him know that potato chips are bad for you.. and something about rats fed GM corn having insomnia or something… yes.. that is the only possible solution..

    -jason and lisa-

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  8. Regarding “The Dave”,
    Sounds like he works for the industry. I don’t know which one, GMO growers of America? lol Definitely not a scientist, unless he’s a paid scientist on Monsanto’s payroll. There really are people who are paid to troll the internet looking for information that may wake others up to what is really going on. It is their job to write this type of non-science based response and try to make it sound like they are being objective. Fail. I wonder how much GMO corn or soy “the dave” would feed to his children? Or maybe he could find a nice bpa lined can of acrylamide potato flavored soy chips cooked in gmo corn oil and flavored with “natural” corn SUGAR”. Have a nice dinner “the dave”. ;)

    Love your blog Sarah, been here a while but I don’t usually post. Couldn’t resist this time.

    btw try not to be to hard on CS. He was talking about things that the same type of people as “The Dave” didn’t like before he was ruined.

    Reply
    • “Sounds like he works for the industry. . . . Definitely not a scientist, unless he’s a paid scientist on Monsanto’s payroll. There really are people who are paid to troll the internet looking for information that may wake others up to what is really going on. It is their job to write this type of non-science based response and try to make it sound like they are being objective.”

      You mean, I could’ve been paid to write what I did? Missed the boat on that one. Seriously though, I think this is the first time I’ve asked someone for evidence of what they claimed and was called unscientific. Maybe I should just believe whatever anybody writes on a blog post.

      “I wonder how much GMO corn or soy “the dave” would feed to his children?”

      However much they can eat and doesn’t have a significant effect on their life. However much that is, however, this blog post doesn’t inform me about.

      “Have a nice dinner “the dave”.”

      Instead of wishing me a nice dinner, how about giving me some facts to help make my dinner better? Or is that too unscientific?

      Reply
    • I think we’re being a little bit hard on someone who is just asking for facts to back up statements. I eat the way Sarah suggests, but I can sympathize with someone wanting actual facts, because if you know anything about research, you know that “link” does not at all mean “causation,” which I think is what he was trying to point out, because that is a huge issue when conducting scientific studies. I’m a regular reader of this blog and enjoy most of the posts, and I follow a WAPF lifestyle, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with someone expecting a bit of hard evidence every once in a while. For me, though, just eating this way and feeling how much better my body feels because of it and knowing how badly I feel when I eat processed foods is enough for me. But that doesn’t mean that’s the case with everybody!

      Reply
      • Kelsey, you may have a point about being too hard on “The Dave”. When you read his comment and the way that he implies that Sarah is just pushing a “conspiracy theory”, well…that tips me off to motive. I am more than willing to listen to someone who really wants to know what is true; what gets my dander up is rudeness just because he doesn’t have all the information that he needs to make an informed decision. When you want to know something, ASK POLITELY WHERE THE INFORMATION IS LOCATED. Don’t jump to conclusions before you have that information. “The Dave” spoke in a condescending manner as well as making derogatory statements…not a good way to get informed. Nevertheless, thanks for reminding us to be polite also.

        Reply
        • i think the biggest annoyance is if you’re trying to be an informed consumer, (of ANY product including your food) you can’t expect the facts to be laid out in front of you. you have to be like a detective, and you have to come to the final conclusions yourself. there are so many articles and scientific papers out there that completely contradict each other. how in the world are we to know exactly what is the “truth”? to be completely honest, you won’t!

          you just have to do the best you can at gathering as much information as possible and go with your gut. i know that sounds awful, but even after all the research i’ve done in the past 5 years reading book after book and paper after paper, talking to numerous practitioners in both health and nutrition, there comes the point where you must take everything that you’ve learned and make an educated decision on what you think is the best step/steps to take. common sense and intuition go hand in hand.

          bottom line, this is a blog. not a scientific research community. Sarah speaks her mind, provides links to where she got her information and you take what you want out of it. do i religiously follow her every word because i deem her the goddess of nutrition? absolutely not. however i do find her blog a very valuable archive of useful information, and i apply her wisdom where i see fit.

          “The Dave” i applaud you for speaking your mind as Sarah did, just realize you’re not ever going to get those shiny, tangible facts that you can keep stored away in your pocket for a rainy day. in our current world of nutrition, everything keeps changing. do the best you can and try to eat as wholesome as possible. which means minus anything in a box! ;)

          Reply
  9. Sarah,

    Would cubing potatoes and cooking them on a medium heat in lard and/or butter on the stove be as probematic as frying, do you think? My kids LOVE our farmer’s market potatoes cooked this way. What do you think?

    Reply
  10. I know I don’t sound smart when I ask the question: are we talking about all starchy veggies? Can I deep fry sweet potatoes w/o issue? Or other veggies like summer squash? Thanks!

    Reply
  11. Hi Sarah – I have a quick question if you have time. On Dr. Mercola’s website not too long ago I read some frustrating info. It had to do with the baking process of potatoes and that is actually produces something called Acrylamide; cancer causing of course. I make my french fries with coconut oil and I either pan fry them or bake them; I know you recommend tallow and hopefully will get my hands on some soon. I’m not terribly concerned or worried, mostly curious. I do know that cooking food (potatoes specifically) changes its molecular structure and makes the starch much more digestible. The rest though, I think it out of my league! (here is the link to the Mercola post if you would like http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/11/07/the-shocking-true-story-of-how-pringles-are-made.aspx) Thanks again, love the site and all the knowledge you impart

    Reply
    • Sorry! I cannot delete my comment. I looked back up and this has been discussed and answered! hahah, my fault for jumping the gun instead of reading.

      Reply
  12. Bake organic corn tortillas in the toaster oven for about 10 minutes without oil. They come out delicious and crispy. Or bake potato slices with a bit of coconut oil on them. Yum.

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  13. Hang on–it’s legal to call high fructose corn syrup “corn sugar” on labels? Seriously?

    I had no idea that baked chips contained that many ingredients. Nor did I realize they were reconstituted from who-knows-what processed potato powder.

    Is this unhealthy baked chip thing confined to brands like Lay’s, or does this kind of unhealthy ingredient loading go on with the majority of “baked” chips?

    Thanks for writing this article–really good to know this…
    Matt\’s last post: Green Tea Supplements: Powdered Green Tea in Pill Form

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  14. It’s not unreasonable for “The Dave” to be asking for more facts. Trouble is nobody is doing the research to answer all his questions, such as: how much acrylamide is too much for the body to detoxify? Suppose we ate a diet high in glutathione (a major antioxidant) from raw milk whey; glucoronic acid (used by the liver to detoxify) from kombucha; beneficial microbes from fermented cabbage; vit. A & D from fermented cod liver oil. Would our bodies have the nourishment to handle the occasional toxin from pleasure foods? The French eat pommes frites which surely must have acylamide; the Japanese eat tempura. Those populations are known for longevity and health. I think it is safe to say that foods fried in the nouveau vegetable oils – not known to our prehistoric ancestors – should be avoided. Our bodies have not had enough time to adapt to those species of foods.

    Reply
  15. Now of course, it’s best to snack on foods that actually have some nutrition like fruit, and neither baked or traditional potato chips have much. But let’s face it, we’re all only human, and hate to sacrifice favorite foods, so when you’re going to have potato chips anyway, save some fat.
    Darlene\’s last post: best stretch mark cream

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  16. Pete, thehealthyhomeskeptic May 14, 2012 at 7:26 am

    i stubbled upon this site whilst searching how to fry chips, and thought the title sounded a bit iconoclastic and was intrigued, especially as I come from a medical background. In reading the article, i was irked subtly irked by the speculative tone of the writing and the unsubstantiated premises that were asserted. I’m not usually one to enter into the internet comment board fray, but thought it prudent.

    I feel ‘the dave’ brings a balanced view to the table, and thought followers of the blog may be quick to come to its defence; i do not believe that he has made any transgressions of decency but is frustratingly trying to convey his sincere view, and as i read his post he raised the very issues that were on my mind. In general, i feel that my views are quite moderate, and i find extremist views alienating. I think people may feel that his views are personally directed and instinctively adopt a defensive position. But if you took a second, on some level i think you would recognise that he is simply maintaining a reasoned position to not blindly sip from the kool-aid.

    Reply
  17. I can only agree with the point about the hidden unhealthy elements behind the “healthy” marketing of bake chips, but Sarah, you are lacking the evidence to back up your claim that baked chips are as bad as or worse than fried chips. You make assumptions from a few studies, instead of presenting information from many studies to verify the results. For example, just because some samples of high-fructose corn syrup in 2009 was discovered to contain mercury does not mean that baked chips contain “likely a bit of neurotoxic mercury to boot”. You have also failed to provide proper references for your sources. The Dave has the right mentality as someone who is seeking the truth.

    Reply
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  19. Pingback: Failed Fry-less February « Three Teaspoons A Day

  20. I know that we should limit our fried food intake and on the whole potato chips are really not a good thing. However, I confess they are my nemesis and I do break down and eat a few on occasion. The good news for me is that I think I have found a decent chip for these times. They are Jackson’s Honest Chips and they are made from organic potatoes, organic cold pressed coconut oil and sea salt. I wanted to share in case there is someone else out there who has my weakness. :-)

    Reply
  21. Here are some scientific abstracts and journals showing no link between dietary consumption of acrylamide and various types of cancer. A simple search of the internet can provide a few more articles in regards to various other cancer types. The cancer caused in rats doesn’t appear to have the same effect on consumption in humans. Here are actual facts to back it up. The Dave has a very valid point on Sarah’s beliefs (not facts) of acrylamide. Definitely a big difference between showing vague links between something and providing factual links between two things. Thank you for highlighting concerns about acrylamide but please provide facts (in the article you are typing, not just links) when trying to convince me to change my life.

    “During a mean follow-up of 17.4 years, a total of 2,952 incident cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in the cohort. In multivariate analyses controlling for breast cancer risk factors, no statistically significant association was observed between long-term acrylamide intake (assessed at baseline and in 1997) and the risk of breast cancer, overall or by estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR) status.”
    http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/169/3/376

    “Compared with the lowest quartile of acrylamide intake (<29.6μg/d), the multivariate rate ratios for the highest quartile (41.7μg/d) were 0.95 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.74—1.20) for colorectal cancer, 0.97 (95% CI 0.71—1.31) for colon cancer and 0.91 (95% CI 0.62—1.34) for rectal cancer. In conclusion, this study provides no evidence that dietary acrylamide in amounts typically consumed by Swedish men is associated with risk of colorectal cancer."
    http://www.ejcancer.com/article/S0959-8049(08)01005-8/abstract

    Reply

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