Most people assume that if something is baked instead of fried it is healthier. This is usually true, especially if you are cooking at home. A baked potato is healthier than a fried potato. But what about processed and packaged potato chips? Are the baked ones healthier than the regular fried chips?
The low quality oil and higher temperatures used in frying are the main problems. The starch in the potato reacts to the high heat in frying, forming a carcinogen called acrylamide. The ingredients on a bag of Classic Lays Potato Chips are: potatoes, vegetable oil (sunflower, corn and/or canola oil), and salt. No preservatives. It doesn’t sound too bad, right? But, if you’ve read our previous post about Cooking Oils you know that sunflower and corn are toxic, genetically-modified oils, not to mention the large dose of cancer-causing acrylamide you are ingesting. So, being a health-conscious consumer you grab the bag of Baked Lays. But, as my grandmother liked to say, hold your horses…
Baking a potato does produce acrylamide, but not as much as frying. (On a side note, boiling or steaming a potato produces the least amount of acrylamide.) Let’s look at the ingredients on the Baked Lays: dried potatoes, corn starch, sugar, corn oil, salt, soy lecithin, and corn sugar. Quite a long list! The potatoes are dried before they are even baked. They don’t say how the potatoes are dried, but most likely using very high temperatures. That means you are getting a high dose of acrylamide, just like you do in the fried. The corn starch, corn oil, and soy lecithin are not organic so they are using GMO products- a big no-no if you are trying to eat healthy. The sugar and corn sugar are obvious bad additions, but necessary to make the “oil-less” chips palatable. You are just exchanging one bad ingredient for a bunch of others.
Let’s be frank, neither potato chip, fried or baked, can be considered a good food choice. But, if we are comparing the two, the baked chip is actually more processed and overall, worse than the fried! Our advice…skip both options and enjoy some raw veggies instead. 🙂