AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Your Potato Chips Could be Killing You


Last year the FDA found a very dangerous chemical that forms in many common foods during cooking.  The chemical is called acrylamide and research suggests that it makes people more susceptible to certain cancers.  Acrylamide forms during frying, grilling, baking, roasting, or toasting when the amino acid asparagine reacts with sugars in the food.  It is what gives food like potato chips their crunchy-ness and taste.

French Fries, potato chips and other potato products have the most acrylamide in them.  Scientists have also found acrylamide in products such as coffee (especially dark roast), roasted nuts, and breakfast cereals. It is estimated that 38% of calories come from food that contains acrylamide.  Acrylamide is also found in cigarette smoke.

Acrylamide has also been found to affect pregnant women and infants.  One study in Environmental Health Perspectives showed that high acrylamide intake may be connected to slower and less fetal growth.

There are a couple of things that you can do to limit the effects of acrylamide.  The first is cooking/frying/roasting potatoes for a shorter time and toasting bread for a shorter time.  Do not let the potatoes become dark brown and do not char/burn your toast.  Another thing you can do is cook at a lower heat and use more organic ingredients.  You can also eat less potato products, cookies, and pastries and switch to a light roast coffee.  

Research on this chemical isn’t totally conclusive so I wouldn’t be too worried about it.  However, I will be more careful about the potato products that I eat and the way I cook my food.


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1 Comment

  1. Lord of the blood cells

    Really interesting stuff! As I was reading, I got more and more anxious over the amount of fried foods I eat like french fries and potato chips. It is hard to realize that we are putting such bad chemicals (acrylamide) into our bodies. Anything that has probable cause for cancer should be studied deeply. There have been some studies showing cancerous tumor growth in rats when ingesting acrylamide. Studies on humans have been inconclusive so far, but The National Toxicology Program says acrylamide is a “probable human carcinogen”. I will definitely be watching my fried-food intake from now on.
    This article gives more background information on acrylamide and its cancer fears:

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