Ah, a bowl of potato chips. The forbidden fruit of the vegetable world. A staple food of Homer Simpson. Refuge of the socially awkward at parties. Salty, oily, and compulsively eatable — is there anything not dangerously awful about this beloved snack?
Actually, yes! In a wasteland of processed junk foods, potato chips stand out as a heroic option, usually featuring only three ingredients: potatoes, vegetable oil, and salt. Read on for why that’s worth keeping in mind when the munchies strike.
Note: for the purposes of this discussion we’re talking plain, salted potato chips. That’s not to say you shouldn’t explore the vast array of flavor concoctions out there at your own risk, but if you’re trying to keep it healthy-ish, simple is your best bet.
Potatoes are good for you
We all know vegetables are healthy, and even though the USDA doesn’t count potato chips as a serving of vegetables (boo), the humble potato packs a wallop of potassium even in chip form. A 100g serving has 1,196mg of potassium — that’s more than a similarly sized banana and a good chunk of your daily recommended value of 3,500mg. Potato chips are beating a legit FRUIT in the potassium game, so obviously they’re going to slay their vending machine companions. Want to guess how much potassium Doritos have? That’s right. None.
Vegetable oil also has its benefits
Yes, it really does (and so does salt, for that matter, despite what you may have read). Vegetable oil contains linolic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, which is an important part of healthy diet according to a recent study by the University of Missouri and University of Illinois. While some fats can cause inflammation in the body, which is linked to heart disease, those are by and large animal fats, not vegetable oil. You can even find potato chips made with olive oil these days, which is fairly universally recognized as one of the healthiest members of the vegetable oil family.
You know what else is great about potato chips? What they don’t have.
Sitting here reading the ingredients on a bag of Kettle chips, I see potatoes, peanut oil, and sea salt. I don’t see preservatives, artificial flavouring, artificial colours, or sugar. You better believe all those things are present in Cheetos — and guess what, the artificial Yellow 6 colour that gives Cheetos their signature orange hue is actually made from petroleum and causes kidney and adrenal gland tumours in animals. The virtuous potato chip would never do you like that.
“A lot of those preservatives and yellow dyes have been directly linked to different cancers, and they feed cancers,” says Dr. Scott Weiss, co-founder and clinical director of Bodhizone Physical Therapy and Wellness, who recommends baked or kettle-cooked potato chips. “We try to make anything artificial the absolute lowest thing we intake.”
How do they stack up against candy?
Potato chips own candy, duh! Let’s look at Skittles or Starburst. Unlike potato chips, they have no dietary fibre, protein, or potassium. What do they have? Sugar and corn syrup, and lots of it. A cup of Skittles has 76g — or 15 teaspoons (!) of sugar. These candies basically have no nutritional value, according to dietitian Molly Kimball. “Almost always, the traditional versions of fruity candy have sugar, corn syrup, and artificial colours and food dyes,” Kimball says. “All the stuff we don’t want is in Skittles, Starburst, and stuff.”
Now let’s be clear — we are not advocating for the practice of polishing of an entire Costco-sized bag of chips while you lounge on the couch all day. Potato chips should not be among your dietary staples — we’re simply saying that, as satisfying genuine indulgences go, you could do a lot worse than a reasonably sized portion of potato chips. Enjoy them in moderation (yes, it’s possible!), as part of a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins… because you already knew anything fried shouldn’t count as a dietary staple, right? Right?
Missy Wilkinson feels vindicated because her junk food of choice is Zapp’s potato chips. Follow her on Twitter at @missy_wilkinson and Instagram at @nowlistenmissy.
The cold weather in most parts of Australia coinciding with EOFY celebrations is the closest thing that we’ll get to snowy Christmas vibes. And if you’re in dire need of some festive cheer after the first six months of 2023, grab your ugly sweater and head to your nearest Red Rooster for Xmas in July deals.
From June 29 – July 31, 2023, Red Rooster is serving up free food items, a chance to win $10,000 or one of 10 merch packs valued at $400 and other fun prizes. All you have to do is sign up as a Red Royalty member and spend $5 on at a location near you or online.
Each week there’ll be new delicious deals and prizes to win. The week one deals have already dropped and they’re looking pretty tasty. You can get access to them via your Red Royalty account. The more you purchase, the more chances you have to win.
Spoiler alert: you can get 10 chicken nuggets for free, right now. Brb running to Red Rooster.