November 19, 2008

You Ask, I Answer: Olive Oil Potato Chips

What are your thoughts on potato chips fried in olive oil?

I saw some at the store and wondered if you thought they were a better snack than regular potato chips.

What oil are regular potato chips fried in, anyway?

-- Richard Faenza

Los Angeles, CA

Most commercial potato chips are fried in cottonseed, sunflower, safflower, or peanut oil.

The reason behind that is simple -- they have high smoke points. This means they can be heated at a higher temperature than other oils without their flavor being affected. Music to a cook's ears!

Regardless of the type of oil potato chips are cooked in, you usually get 10 grams of fat per 1 ounce serving.

Potato chips fried in olive oil aren't as great as they may sound.

Sure, olive oil contains a higher percentage of monounsaturated fat than cottonseed oil, but you should not be looking to potato chips to increase your heart-healthy fat intake.

Besides, from a caloric standpoint, they are identical to any other potato chip.

If you enjoy the taste of these chips, enjoy them as a treat.

Don't, however, think of them as a "healthy" potato chip alternative. Extreme heat takes away a good percentage of olive oil's antioxidant and healthful properties.

This is not to say olive oil transforms into a "bad" oil, but rather that using olive oil for deep frying is not a heart-healthy move.

If you are looking to incorporate more monounsaturated fats into your diet, I would much rather you chomp on some peanuts, add some avocados to your sandwich, or simply dress your salad with olive oil.

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