Potato chips are an inexpensive, tasty and easily available snack that not only satisfies our hunger pangs, but also tickle our taste buds. In a chaotic and busy day, potato chips are an easy to grab snack. But the damage they make to our body may not be worth the pleasure.
Potato chips are one of the greatest contributor to weight gain, having a stronger effect on weight gain than consumption of potatoes and soft drinks. Owing to their taste appeal, it is a common practice to over eat them and the ultimate consequence is obesity, which itself is a root cause of many other diseases. These potatoes are deep fried by the manufacturers in oils or fats which add calories to the product, which may increase the risk of gaining weight. Increasing the weight may increase the risk of obesity and insulin resistance, conditions where the cells do not respond to insulin.
These chips also contain a substantial amount of salt. Thus they may cause serious health issues like hypertension, acute rise in blood pressure leading to stoke, coronary heart disease and kidney disease. Even plain potato chips contain 170 to 185 milligrams of sodium per ounce. Though enjoying an occasional handful of chips probably will not cause a serious damage, one should abstain from overeating.
While the potato chips are tough to beat in terms of their taste, the high amounts of saturated and trans-fat (an ingredient that's not friendly to balanced diets) can contribute to obesity, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease and diabetes. People who consumed high levels of trans-fat were found to have weight problems, liver failure, infertility (for women) and higher risks of depression compared to the non-consumers.
Moreover, the potato chips contain artificial flavors which are simply chemical mixtures that mimic a natural flavor in some way. They are created in a lab and the formulations are trade secrets. Also the artificial colors used in making potato chips which make them more attractive and appetizing, might detrimentally affect our health, especially that of children.
Additionally the potato chips contain Calcium propionate which is the calcium salt of propionic acid. E282 or calcium propionate is often used as a preservative in a wide variety of foods (usually baked foods), but many manufacturers also use it in potato chips. It is usually acts as an antimicrobial, mainly against the fungi. According to the Pesticide Action Network North America, calcium propionate is slightly toxic. A study conducted in 2002 established the direct link between E282 and irritability, restlessness, inattention and sleep disturbance (mainly in children). Other side effects observed are migraines, headaches and stomach ulcers etc.
Overall, the dark side of consuming these cheap and easy to find snacks should not be ignored as occasional intake of potato chips might not cause irreversible damage but the real dangers arise when one consumes potato chips on a daily basis or regularly choose them over other healthier and better options.
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