The New Potato Chip Scam: Don't Let Them Deceive You

Grabbing the lead spot on the front page of this morning's Money section of USA Today is Frito-Lay's "industry-jarring" announcement of a "better-for-you" change from cottonseed oil to sunflower oil in its Lay's and Ruffles potato chip products. If you believed everything you read, at first blush, you'd think that Frito-Lay's potato chip lines would be healthier. Once you understand nutrition, however, you realize nothing could be further from the truth.

All Frito-Lay is doing is switching to what APPEARS to be a healthier oil. Their switch to sunflower oil is NOT going to help your health, but actually worsen it. In fact, this is very similar to a move made by McDonald's away from using tropical oils to regular vegetable oils.

One of the primary reasons is that the move does nothing to change the critical ratio of omega-6 fats versus omega-3 fats that is so crucial for optimizing health. It is not that potato chip makers could have used omega-3 oils for their chips (that would have been a disaster too), but they could have shifted to tropical oils which are less susceptible to the heat damage that is necessary to produce potato chips.

By the way, this isn't a trans-fat issue. It's worse than that. When you heat highly perishable oils like sunflower oil, other more toxic molecules form, such as cyclized, cross-linked, fragmented, bond-shifted oils and polymerized bonds, producing all kinds of different kinds of damaged oil molecules.

This damage occurs when you fry the chips, which starts at about 160 degrees Celsius (320 degrees Fahrenheit), and goes up exponentially as the temperature rises. The nature of chemical reactions is that for every 10-degree rise in temperature (Celsius), the rate of chemical reactions (with oxygen, light, metals) at least doubles, and may even triple or quadruple. As temperatures climb, more of those damaged oil molecules that sap your health seep into their products.

The company actually BOASTS about a 66 percent decrease in saturated fat in their Lay's Classic chips, although this is one of the worst moves they could make. Saturated fat is relatively more resistant to producing these oil-damaged molecules.

Bottom line, these new chips, nearly identical to McDonald's switch away from tropical oils, will be MUCH worse than the current version of their potato chips. Strange, how they neglect to mention ONE WORD about the levels of cancer-causing acrylamide, a toxic chemical that is easily checked. You can bet your bottom dollar, if these new chips had less acrylamide they would be promoting that fact big time. Fact is, these chips will have MORE cancer-causing acrylamide in them.

Although potato chips were NEVER healthy for you, these new chips make the current chips look like health food. So you can add ALL versions of Lay's potato chips to the list of the most dangerous potato chips you can eat.

USA Today May 3, 2006

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