Posted on: January 16, 2017 at 3:12 pm
Last updated: August 14, 2018 at 11:56 am

I don’t buy potato chips every time I go to the store, but I must confess, I do love them! In fact, it’s rare that I buy potato chips at the store. This is because I know my fiancé and I will just eat them until they’re gone. What’s the point of spending money on food that won’t last any longer than a few hours to a couple days at most?

After discovering that potato chips contain some freakish ingredients that aren’t even on the label, I’m glad I resisted the temptation to stop buying those chips all the time.

What’s so wrong with potato chips? Read on to find out why you should avoid these unhealthy potato chip brands and reach for some healthy alternatives instead.

Chemicals and Ingredients in Potato Chips

The way potato chips are made has a lot to do with how toxic they can be. Some of the chemicals these chips contain aren’t even on the label because they technically aren’t ingredients but contaminants.

Here are some chemicals and ingredients that are in your toxic chips!

1. Acrylamide

You won’t find this ingredient on the label because it’s a by-product of processing the chips [1]. This neurotoxin is created when high-carb foods are cooked at high temps. The amino acid asparagines (found in lots of vegetables) has a high concentration in potatoes, and when heated at temperatures higher than 248 degrees Fahrenheit, morphs into acrylamide.

Why is acrylamide so bad? The government says you shouldn’t be getting any more than 1.5 mg per liter of water per day [2], but French fries and potato chips can contain 60 milligrams or more! That’s hundreds of times the limit that the government says you shouldn’t exceed. In fact, the FDA released a report outlining specific recommendations for french fry and potato chip manufacturers to help prevent acrymalide contamination.

Several different organizations have labeled acrylamide as a “probable human carcinogen” [3].

2. Vegetable Oils

Ah, this dreaded term. I can’t stand it. WHAT vegetable oils are we talking about here?


Corn oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, and soybean oil to name a few. The problem with all of these? Genetically modified organisms for corn and soy, toxic pesticide residues for cottonseed oil, [4] and an inappropriate omega-6 to the omega-3 ratio for sunflower oil. In other words, all are considered unhealthy [5].

3. Additives

These are such fun. They include sugar, corn starch, wheat, rice, mono-diglycerides (a source of trans fat) [6], and sometimes milk and artificial flavorings. Combine this with the acrylamide and vegetable oils, and you have one unhealthy snack on your hands.

These are just a few of the ingredients that you likely have seen (or maybe not seen) or eaten in your potato chips.

The Top 10 Brands to Avoid

chips and pringles

Here are the top 10 brands of potato chips to avoid and specifically why you should avoid them.

1. Lay’s

Owned by Pepsi, even the baked version of these chips isn’t safe from acrylamide. No potato chip is safe from that! Whether you choose regular or baked, steer clear of Lay’s if you can. A bag can contain up to 549 ppb of acrylamide—remember that the government’s limit is .05 ppb! [7] The baked Lay’s? 1096 ppb! [11] (Check out the FDA’s full report on the exact numbers for this and other products here).

2. Pringles

Pringles uses less than 50% of potatoes in its chips [9] and is owned by Proctor and Gamble, a company that tests on animals. Need I say more? (Proctor and Gamble also own brands such as Dawn, Gillette, Olay, Tampax, and Tide.)

3. Cape Cod

Despite having minimal ingredients, you’re still exposing yourself to high levels of acrylamide with these chips. The brand was involved in a lawsuit in 2008 for its obscene levels of the chemical: over 7,000 ppm to be exact [10]. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the label!

4. Kettle Chips

These are the ones I usually reach for because they taste good and they use sea salt rather than regular salt. It doesn’t matter—this brand of chips simply isn’t any better than these other brands when it comes to toxicity. The FDA says these chips contain 1265 ppb! [11] How’s that for healthier than Lay’s?

5. Good Health Natural Foods Olive Oil Potato Chips

At 385 ppb of acrylamide, these potato chips are best avoided. [11] Good health, no!

6. Herr’s Potato Chips

468 ppb of acrylamide made with vegetable oils and salt. [11]

7. UTZ

All-natural potato chips come in at 879 ppb of acrylamide. [11] You wouldn’t think the all-natural version would contain carcinogenic chemicals, would you?

8. Ruffles


292 ppb with the standard ingredients [11]. Ruffles are also owned by Pepsi!

9. Terra Sweet Potato Chips

767 ppb of acrylamide is a shocking number when you consider that these chips are supposed to be “healthy” for you [11].

10. Route 11 Sweet Potato Chips

At 2762 ppb, these chips come in at the worst levels of acrylamide you’ve seen on this list [11]! So instead of reaching for sweet potato chips, you might consider that they have higher levels of acrylamide than normal potato chips.

Other foods to watch out for acrylamide include Hershey’s Cocoa (909 ppb), Popeye’s French Fries (1030 ppb), Folgers Decaf Coffee Crystals (351), and General Mills Cheerios (266 ppb) [8].

5 Better Alternatives

bare apple chips

Avoiding chips can be hard. Their crunchy saltiness makes them irresistible on occasion. After we’ve just seen 10 of the worst brands to avoid, here are 5 alternatives that might satisfy your craving without making you feel entirely bad.

1. Jackson’s Honest Potato Chips

Made with organic non-GMO potatoes and organic coconut oil, you can bypass those vegetable oils and pesticides!


2. Boulder Canyon Potato Chips

Again, made with coconut oil or olive oil to be slightly healthier.

3. Brad’s Raw Leafy Kale

Not quite kale chips, but these kale chips have minimal, wholesome ingredients and are tasty! You can also make your own kale chips at home to satisfy your salty and crunchy craving.

4. Bare Snacks Apple Chips

Bare Snacks apple chips are crunchy and provide something different and healthier than potato chips. Plus, they’re organic!

5. Bare Fruit Banana Chips

These banana chips come organic from Bare Fruit for a perfect on-the-go snack. While not quite salty, they are crunchy and delicious!

Giving up potato chips can feel impossible, but when you’re ready to avoid carcinogenic chemicals, you can give some of these other options a try.

At any rate, avoid the top 10 brands and save your body from acrylamide, which is recognized as a likely human carcinogen. Potato chips might be tasty, but be mindful picking up a package next time you’re at the store. Try some kale chips instead!

Want some natural, healthy chips right at home? Give these homemade chip recipes a try!

Jenn Ryan
Health Expert
Jenn Ryan is a freelance writer and editor who's passionate about natural health, fitness, gluten-free, and animals. She loves running, reading, and playing with her four rescued rabbits.

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