I Love Chips…But Ohhh Beware the Salt

I eat a healthy diet. My one nemesis, like many people, is potato chips. It’s not so much the calories you need to watch but the salt.

The Thai versions of Lay's Potato Chips. Most ...
The Thai versions of Lay’s Potato Chips. Most of the flavours are seafood oriented.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Potato chips are said to have been invented around the 1850s. Salt was added as a seasoning in the 1920s with other seasonings to follow in the 1950s. The first  seasoned chips had three flavors: Cheese & Onion, Barbecue, and Salt & Vinegar.

The selection of flavors is astounding. Frito-Lay launched a contest called Canadian Lay’s “Do Us a Flavorwhere fans suggested new flavor ideas for a chance to become an actual Lay’s potato chip flavors. After evaluating over 600,000 entries, four flavors are available for a limited time: Creamy Garlic Caesar, Grilled Cheese & Ketchup, Maple Moose, and Perogy Platter.  The winner will get $50,000 plus 1 percent of the flavor’s sales.

We love our potato chips and it means big money. The Canadian potato chips market had total revenues of $1.2 billion in 2011, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.7% between 2007 and 2011. Market consumption volumes increased with a CAGR of 5% between 2007-2011, to reach a total of 131.4 million kg in 2011. The market is anticipated to experience a CAGR of 6.2% for the five-year period 2011 – 2016, which is expected to drive the market to a value of $1.7 billion by the end of 2016.

However, there are big concerns about the nutrition of potato chips. It is not just the calorie content. The salt they contain contribute substantial levels of sodium to your diet. This had been linked to health issues such as high blood pressure. It is the potato chips’ taste appeal that causes people to overeat and become obese.

I eat a healthy diet full of fresh veggies and fruit, low in carbs. I avoid anything made of wheat, barley or oats because I am gluten intolerant. I get my organic grass fed side of beef every year. I don’t eat candy or drink sugary drinks including sodas and juice. Yet, my one weakness is potato chips.

To make sure that I minimize my consumption of salt from potato chips, I keep to the Ordinary flavored chips. I’ve noticed that other flavored chips can contain 30%- 300% more salt than the plain ordinary chips! The ordinary chips usually have about 200 mg of sodium per 50 g serving. One brand of BBQ flavor has 600 mg! And don’t go thinking that the “healthier” veggy chips are any better. I saw one brand at 700 mg of sodium per serving.

Can you tell the difference? I sure can.  I step on a scale the day after eating any flavored chips and find that I’ve gained 2-3 pounds in retained water. It can take 2-3 days for my body to get rid of it.  That extra fluid is what causes high blood pressure… and is why the Doc gives you a diuretic to reduce your retained water.

So although we may love our potato chips, the flavored ones can really pack a punch to your blood pressure issue. If you must enjoy potato chips, go for the one with the least amount of salt.

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