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What Happens to Your Body When You Eat a Bag of Potato Chips

The classic crispy snack is doing more harm that you may think...

When the idea of a snack food comes to mind, there's a good chance you immediately think of a bag of potato chips. They're crunchy, crispy, greasy, and oh so delicious. Plus, it's very easy to eat an entire bag of chips in one sitting. It's a truly beloved comfort food, and served alongside some dip, well, you just went ahead and elevated the beloved crisper.

But have you ever stopped and wondered exactly what happens to your body when you eat potato chips? Especially if you happen to eat a big bag every day?

Well, sit back and relax—preferably without a bag of chips—as we divulge the hidden truths of what goes on in your body when you eat a bag of potato chips. (Instead of stocking up on chips, try out any of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.)

You can gain weight.

Step on scale

If you happen to enjoy eating potato chips every day, there's a good chance you just might start packing on the pounds. See, researchers at Deakin University found that those who consume excess salt end up craving and eating more fatty foods overall. The more salty chips you eat, the more you'll want, and that leads to weight gain. Plus, one Harvard study found that the participants who had potato chips as a part of their diet gained weight each year they were assessed. It's no wonder they're on our list of snacks that are causing you to gain weight.

You can get addicted.


Ever found yourself just mindlessly eating a bag of potato chips just to look down and see there is nothing but crumbs? You've successfully reached the bottom of the bag, rather quickly. And when you have the bag sitting in front of you, this can be a fairly common occurrence! Well, there is actually a reason why and this all has to do with the "crunch" sound chips make.

One study found that the participants associated a loud crunch sound with the freshness of the food, making it more desirable. Another collection of studies published in the journal Appetite found that participants were more likely to consume more chips if the bag was labeled as "crunchy" and they ate more chips when they could hear the sound of the crunch, compared to when they had headphones on and the sound was blocked out.

If you perceive a food to be fresher, you think it's more desirable, and that can lead you to eat an entire bag of chips in one sitting. This explains why this can keep happening each time you eat chips, too. So you can see why they are a seriously addicting snack.

You're consuming empty calories.

eating chips

When you look at the nutrition breakdown of a standard bag of potato chips, you're going to see that they are high in calories, fat, and sodium, but are low in just about everything else. You're not getting much of anything from chips, as they are often fried. When you eat foods that are lacking in any real nutrition value, you're going to end up eating more, in general, as you'll get hungry quicker. Not a good chain reaction! Instead, you'll want to munch on foods that leave you feeling fuller longer. (And if you're looking for an easy way to get more healthy tips daily, be sure to sign up for our newsletter to get daily recipes and food news in your inbox!)

Your blood pressure can get high.

Doctor's Hand Measuring Blood Pressure Of Male Patient.

There is loads of evidence out there that supports the idea that a high sodium intake is associated with a higher risk of high blood pressure. One of the main components of potato chips is the amount of sodium. They are the quintessential salty snack, and so it comes as no surprise chips are loaded up with salt. If you eat super salty snacks like potato chips regularly, over time, you're going to end up setting yourself up to develop hypertension. One study found a connection between eating potato chips and an increase in heart disease, so if you want to best protect your ticker, it's best to put down those daily bags of potato chips.

You could impact your risk of getting cancer.

baked potato chips

This seems a bit extreme, but there is data that explains. See, according to the American Cancer Society, potato chips contain the compound acrylamide which is created in high-starch foods when they're fried, roasted, or baked. There are studies that link this compound to cancer when studied in mice, and while you're clearly not a mouse, you wouldn't want to eat something every single day that could be possibly increasing your risk of developing cancer.

If you can just limit yourself to a small, snack-size bag of chips every once in a while (and not eat a full-size bag daily), then you'll be just fine. All about moderation, after all!

Jennifer Maldonado
Jennifer Maldonado is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and health content. Read more about Jennifer
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