Potato Chips vs French Fries Which is Worse

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 11/01/2019

One of the things I enjoy doing is giving people knowledge to help them make better nutrition choices.

I know we can all agree that choosing what you put into your body is important. I want you to understand the links between cause and effect; for example, what kind of effect can one form of a particular food do to your body as compared to another form of the same food? For example, let’s compare french fries with potato chips.

a photo of fries, chips, and burgers

In this article, I’ll explain:


One Of Them Raises Your Blood Sugar And Fat Storing Hormone More

Let’s say you have a friend on keto who’s going out to eat. You know they’re going to have a cheat meal. Which of these two foods would you recommend, based on doing the most or least amount of damage to their body?

Or, for that matter, if you decide to join them in the cheat meal.

First, let’s take a look at where potatoes rank on the glycemic index, a measurement of how quickly a particular food will raise your blood sugar and Fat Storing Hormone.

A ranking of under 55 is low. 56 to 69 is moderate.

70 and above is high.

As a comparison, pure glucose scores 100.

a photo of glycemic index icons for low medium high

You may be surprised to discover that a raw potato ranks zero on the glycemic index. That’s right. A raw potato has no effect on your blood sugars at all.

Go ahead, eat all the raw potatoes you want! Yuck, right?

But unfortunately, as soon as you start heating a potato into a tasty variation, that’s when things start to go downhill.

The Damaging Effect Of Heat

Heat breaks down the starch in the potato and releases the sugar in it. And the effect of heat may shock you. Take a look at this list of where various forms of cooked potatoes rank on the glycemic index:

  • Instant potatoes 97
  • Baked 84-111, depending on how long you bake them (the longer, the higher the score)
  • Mashed 82
  • French fries 75
  • Roasted 69
  • Boiled 60-82, depending on how long you boil them (the longer, the higher the score)
  • Chips 54
  • Raw 0

See how chips are actually on the low side as compared to french fries?

But Before You Go Nuts Eating Potato Chips…

Yet before you go crazy snacking on chips, let’s take a look at some of the variables that make chips worse than they may seem based solely on the glycemic index.

I chose a bag of kettle chips that are labeled organic with sea salt. According to the label, they’re cooked in either organic safflower oil or sunflower oil. And they’re actually healthier than most chips. Usually, they’re cooked in canola or soy oil, which are genetically modified.

Not only is a genetically modified product potentially damaging to your health, so too is the pesticide glyphosate that’s used on the safflowers and sunflowers. As well, you’ll find products cooked in cottonseed and corn oils, which have the same issues.

Then you have hidden and added sugars in the chips. Most people don’t realize this. On the label, you’ll often find forms of sugar called dextrose and maltodextrin, along with chemicals such as monosodium glutamate, modified food starches, and preservatives.

The moral of the story: read the label.

Look, I’m realistic. I know that people are going to have cheat meals. But I want to give you this information so you can make the most informed choice for your health.


Big Problems With Fries

French fries are one of the most addictive foods in the world, If you want to know more about french fries, check out my video specifically on them. There are many factors about french fries that are important for you to understand, especially if you’re eating them at a fast-food restaurant:

  • People tend to add ketchup to fries, creating a whole other set of health impacts.
  • If you’re eating fries with ketchup along with a burger made with meat, that shoots up the glycemic index ranking far higher than 75.

The Timing Of When You Eat Is A Factor

Fries are usually eaten with a meal. As I mentioned, this substantially increases the glycemic impact on your blood sugars and Fat Storing Hormone.

Chips are usually a snack between meals. You might think this is better, but what actually happens is that this is another time when you spike your Fat Storing Hormone and blood glucose.

You can, though, offset some of the damage if you’re eating one meal a day as part of fasting, and eating the chips after your one meal. Remember, chips score 54, fairly low on the glycemic index. An even better choice is chips cooked in avocado oil or olive oil.

And You’re Eating Carcinogens

Let’s take a look at one more factor. This isn’t to depress you, but to give you information so you can make a choice.

When you consume starchy foods such as potato chips and fries, or even crackers, bread, and cookies, they’re usually cooked above 250F degrees, resulting in the creation of a chemical called acrylamide.

Acrylamide can cause cancer, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which describes it as a probable human carcinogen. As well, the US National Toxicology Program says acrylamide is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen”.

Finally, the US Environmental Protection Agency says it’s “likely to be carcinogenic to humans”.

I don’t mean to scare you. How much risk you’re causing yourself really depends on the quantity of problematic foods you’re consuming. So, eaten in small amounts and very infrequently, you’re probably not going to trigger cancer. But you should be aware that there is a risk.


The “Winner” Is Clear

To sum it up, potato chips win versus fries.

But I use the word “win” very cautiously. There’s nothing particularly winning or healthy about either chips or fries. Instead, it’s more like which is the less bad choice.

Yes, you might think I’m a downer. Truly, I’m not trying to be - I simply want you to be informed about the nutritional choices you make. Because like you, I care about your health.

a healthy, smiling young woman raising her arms to the sky

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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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