With the growing focus on the dangers of trans-fats, fast food companies have had to find new and creative ways to market their products.
One such company is Lay’s, founded in 1932 by Herman Lay. It merged with the Frito Company in 1961 to become Frito-Lay Inc., the snack food giant that grosses over $13 billion annually. This makes it the largest manufacturer, controlling an outstanding 59 percent of the United States savory snack-food market (1).
You probably remember Lay’s infamous slogan “Betcha can’t eat just one.”
While eating more than one chip satisfies your junk-food cravings, it certainly won’t do anything good for your health. Lay’s marketing gurus knew this and brought up the Baked Lay’s craze that caters to guilt-ridden junk food addicts.
While these supposedly healthier chips may not be doused in trans-fats like their original greasier counterparts, they still contain a cesspool of chemicals and sugar that will make you cringe when you actually learn what’s in them.
The Fried Vs. Baked Potato Chip Controversy
Fried Potato Chips
The premise behind baked chips is that because they are not fried in trans-fats, they are a healthier alternative. Trans-fats are essentially unsaturated fats modified to be solid at room temperature.
Studies show these types of fats are not only highly toxic, but linked to an increased risk of a number of diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity (2,3,4).
One study shows the fatty acids in soybean and canola oils found on most grocery store shelves in the US contain anywhere from 0.56 percent to 4.2 toxic trans fats (5).
The canola and soybean oils typically used to make fried potato chips are not good for many reasons. First, studies clearly show that vegetable oils contain large amounts of biologically active fats known as omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are harmful in excess.
Today, the consumption of soybean oil alone has increased more than a thousand times, making up close to 7 percent of the total calories in the typical US diet (6).
Processing these oils involves pressing, heating, and a variety of industrial chemicals and highly toxic solvents you wouldn’t dare put in your mouth if you knew about them.
Not exactly what you signed up for when you bought that bag of Lay’s potato chips.
That’s Not All
Apart from the elevated levels of omega-6 fatty acids, vegetable oils contain low levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Your body uses both of these fatty acids to make other substances called eicosanoids (7). These modified fatty acids sit in your cell membranes where they play a crucial role things like cellular messaging, immunity, and inflammation.
Studies show that for the most part, the eicosanoids made from omega-6s, like those found in vegetable oils, are pro-inflammatory, meaning they cause inflammation, which research shows directly leads to a variety of serious diseases such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, depression and even cancer (8, 9).
The big issue with eating foods that contain disproportionate levels of fatty acids is that different fatty acids compete with each other. For example, the more omega-6 you ingest, the more omega-3 you need to balance it out. As such, it is also true that if you have less omega-6 in your body, it requires less omega-3s (10).
The bottom line is that a diet high in omega-6 and low in omega-3, like that found in potato chips, promotes inflammation, whereas a balanced amount of both omega-6 and omega-3 reduces inflammation (11).
Other studies further show that when heated to high temperatures, oils such as canola and safflower, both of which are regularly used to make potato chips, actually become carcinogenic.
As they are heated, the molecular composition of these oils changes to produce substances called aldehydes, which are linked to some neurodegenerative diseases and several types of cancer (12).
Worse yet, not only are the potatoes genetically modified and full of herbicide residue, so are the oils they’re fried in. And it’s not just potato chips, other Frito-Lay products also contain glyphosate (13).