Easy on the Chips!

More Heart Disease Correlations Linked to French Fries and Potato Chips

As if we do not hear enough bad news about all the things that can cause heart disease, here comes another research study about the all American favorites: potato chips and French fries!  According to a recent study published in March 2009 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Marek Naruszewicz and colleagues from Poland, foods with a chemical called acrylamide have been found to possibly increase the likelihood of heart disease. Potato chips and French fries contain especially high amounts of acrylamides.

These chemicals are created in some foods during the cooking process when undergoing high temperatures. Deep frying is an example of a high temp cooking process and most potato chips are made with this process. Acrylamides have previously been linked to possibly contributing to cancer and nervous system disorders. You can read more FDA FAQs on acrylamide: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/acryfaq.html

During the study, participants ate a large amount of potato chips that contained at least 157 micrograms of acrylamide on a daily basis for at least 4 weeks. After the 4 weeks, they were tested for changes in oxidized LDL inflammatory markers (these are indicators of systemic inflammation that can help to predict future cardiovascular events) and antioxidants that help the body to get rid of acrylamides. All participants had undesirable changes in these markers which means they were at an increased risk for heart disease. 

The FDA has been working with the food industry to help improve food processing technologies in order to help lessen the amount of acrylamides in foods.

According to American Society for Nutrition Spokesperson Mary Ann Johnson, PhD: "Consumers can reduce their exposure to acrylamide by limiting their intake of potato chips and French fries, choosing a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat meat and dairy products, and quitting smoking, which is a major source of acrylamide."2

As with all food, moderation is the key. Common sense tells you that sitting down and eating a half a bag of chips at a time is not exactly good for you.  Not only from the amount of chemicals that you are ingesting, but the number of calories along with the high number of fats typically associated with chips is bound to catch up with you!


1.     Naruszewicz et al. Chronic intake of potato chips in humans increases the production of reactive oxygen radicals by leukocytes and increases plasma C-reactive protein: a pilot study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2009; DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.2008.26647.

2.     American Society for Nutrition (2009, February 26). Additional Evidence That Potato Chips Should Be Eaten Only In Moderation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 28, 2009, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2009/02/090213161040.htm Adapted from materials provided by American Society for Nutrition via Eurekalert, a service of AAAS.  

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