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One Major Side Effect of Eating Potato Chips, Science Says

Your heart will thank you if you eat less of them.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman
woman eating potato chips

Let's make one thing clear: Reaching for a bag of potato chips every once and a while won't kill you. Everything in moderation is usually fine, right? Well, if you eat too many potato chips, you could be worsening your heart health—this is especially the case if you already have high blood pressure.

According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some 45% of adults in the U.S. have hypertension or high blood pressure or are taking medication for the condition. Hypertension is defined as having a systolic blood pressure of at least 130 mm Hg or diastolic blood pressure of greater than or equal to 80 mm Hg (130/80 mm Hg). (Related: 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work).

Even more concerning? Only about 24% of adults living with high blood pressure have their condition under control. If your blood pressure remains high over time, it can cause some dangerous side effects, particularly on your heart health. In fact, left unchecked, high blood pressure can damage your circulatory system, as per the American Heart Association (AHA). This could be a contributing factor to heart attack and stroke.

So, if you have hypertension (or are taking medication for it) it's wise that you stay away from foods that could intensify your condition. This includes heavily processed foods that are packed in sodium, such as potato chips. Keep in mind, one serving of Lay's Potato Chips—which is about 15 chips—only contains about 170 milligrams of sodium or roughly 7% of the daily value. But, it's important to ask yourself this: if you're opening a bag of Lay's chips, are you just going to eat 15 chips?

According to the AHA, you should limit your consumption of sodium to 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, which is equivalent to one teaspoon of salt. However, those who have high blood pressure could improve their condition by dropping down to just 1,500 milligrams a day. So, if you're eating chips on top of other processed foods like unhealthy frozen pizzas or burritos, you can see how your sodium intake could skyrocket by day's end.

Our advice? Cut back on the chips as well as other processed, salty foods. Perhaps start by limiting your potato chip indulgence to just twice a week. And then, why not try making them yourself with this Healthy Smoked Paprika Potato Chips recipe?

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Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more