Last weekend, my husband and I were enjoying our Saturday afternoon with a leisurely stroll through Whole Foods Market. As usual, there was a temping new giveaway on the endcap of the snack aisle – a new brand of “healthy chips”.

Jon, being the crunch-craver that he is, was drawn to the display like a chip to a dip. He came back with a handful and started munching, while I picked up the bag to have a look.

Organic potatoes, organic safflower oil, sea salt.

That’s better than a list of 20 ingredients, half of which you can’t pronounce. And potatoes are a chemically intensive crop, so you should always choose organic.

But that still won’t save you from the cellular damage these tasty buggers can cause. In fact, that “betcha-can’t-eat-just-one” crunch is a serious one-two punch against your health and vitality.

Here’s why:

  1. Carbohydrate-rich foods (like potatoes) cooked at high temperatures create an aggressive cancer-promoting compound called acrylamide
  2. Oils heated beyond their flash point generate cell-damaging compounds called lipid oxidation products (LOPs)

And that’s gives “killer crunch” new meaning!

Now, I’m not saying that a very occasional snack on chips is going to undermine all your health efforts. But you should know what you’re eating, and what the consequences of overdoing it could be.

So, How Bad is Acrylamide?

Well, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified it as a probable human carcinogen. And get this: the amount of acrylamide in a large order of fast-food French fries or an ordinary bag of potato chips can contain 300 – 500 times more acrylamide than what the EPA allows in a glass of water!

What’s more:

A study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology found that women who ate ONE portion of chips per day (40 mcg acrylamide) had double the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer than women who ate less

People who got the most acrylamide in their diet had a 59% higher risk of renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer) than those with the lowest exposure. And for every 10 mcg increase in acrylamide, the risk of kidney cancer increase by 10%!

In 2005 California attorney general Bill Lockyer filed a lawsuit against top makers of french fries and potato chips requiring them to warn consumers of the potential risks from consuming acrylamide.

When these manufacturers ignored the call for disclosure, they paid the price. After paying a combined $3 million in fines as a settlement, H.J. Heinz Co., Frito-Lay, Kettle Foods Inc., and Lance Inc. – agreed to reduce levels of acrylamide in their products (including potato chips and French fries).

Acrylamide: From the Frying Pan… Into the Fire

But it is not just the high-heat cooking of carbohydrates and the resulting acrylamide that can damage your health. The oil is a health hazard too.

In another Healing Gourmet article, you learned that omega-6 fats can increase your risk for blindness. But there are many more ways these so-called healthy fats can harm you.

When omega-6 fats are heated their danger is multiplied – it’s like going from the frying pan into the fire.

You see, omega-6 fats are really unstable molecules. They degrade very easily, and when they do, they can cause damage to your DNA.

This means wrinkles, sagging skin, loss of vision, sticky plaque that can lead to heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s… and many forms of cancer too.

But here’s the good news, you can protect yourself from the hazards of heat, by choosing the right oils and cooking to maximize your nutrients… while minimizing the poison on your plate.

So you may be thinking chips are out. No way. We’d never do that to you. At Healing Gourmet, our aim is to find innovative new ways to make everyday favorites healthier.

And we did just that.

In fact, you can make your own chips that really are healthy, in about 30 minutes. And I’m proud to say this tasty snack was created by my chip-craving husband.

So crunch away on our Spicy Sweet Potato Chips. Try the recipe with beets and your other favorite root veggies too.