Fresh, crispy and extra crunchy…… this is what is advertised on TV about most packets of crisps. I am sure this is the go-to snack for lots of people as the crunchiness, salty taste and variety of flavours is enticing and very addictive. The more of these crisps you eat, the more you want. Why? Because of the ingredients used. These ingredients have excitotoxins like MSG that leave you dissatisfied after only one or two crisps and thus create more cravings. As I am writing this article, I have checked out the Simba website and this is a complaint verbatim from one of the Simba consumers ‘I have been so annoyed at Simba for some time now. I am an ardent crisp fan, but for the past few months your crisps are all but tasteless, last night I AGAIN bought a big packet of Tomato flavour crisps at our local store and again found the crisps had almost no flavour throughout the entire packet, long gone are the days that your mouth ended up red from the flavouring. Please either charge more and flavour the crisps or just stick to making “plain” variety’. – It seems this consumer is one of the many crisp addicts.
A lot of research has been conducted on the dangers of crisps, and the findings are the same. Crisps are manufactured from refined oils, that are added to the body with each bite. The dangers of crisps are embedded in their ingredients. These ingredients are toxic and damaging to the body and the effects are even worse on children, as they are still developing and growing. The unfortunate reality is that crisps are part of most children’s ‘normal’ diet. For many children at school, a lunchbox is not complete without a packet of crisps, sweets or biscuits. Parents like to indulge their children and make them feel loved and provided for. But, at what cost ?
Eating has become a way of social acceptance, and people do not like to be considered odd, weird and out of trend with the rest of the world. Unfortunately, with such a mentality there are dire consequences. Obesity among children under the age of 15 has more than doubled in the last 20 or so years. Cases of complex medical conditions in children, such as diabetes and cancer, are on the increase as well. Lastly, the mortality rate keeps on rising for youth under the age of 20. It seems as if we are digging our own graves, one unhealthy mouthful at a time.
Many years ago, my colleague did some temporary work at Simba, working for the production manager, and so had to spend a part of her day in the factory. They also had a tuckshop where staff and the public could buy these crisps at a cheaper price. In the four weeks that she was there, she gained 8 Kg from ingesting the steady supply of these fattening ‘treats’.
It is recommended that for a healthier you, eat less crisps, and, if possible, avoid them altogether.
I compared different packet of crisps to see what they are made of. I was hoping to find that some brands are more healthy than others, well it turns out that most of them have the same basic ingredients, which have horrible effects on development and growth of children. Here are the common ingredients found in these crisps.
Acrylamide– this is a by-product that is created when food, rich in carbohydrates, is cooked at very high temperatures. Cooking oil when heated creates free radicals. These are bad for the skin and have cancer-causing properties. Acrylamide also affects the nervous system and the fertility rate.
E 262 – sodium acetate/ sodium diacetate. This is a flavouring, used to give food a sour taste (think salt and vinegar or sour cream crisps). It is used as a mould inhibitor and a general conditioner in breads. Sodium acetate is highly acidic and increases the acid levels in the body. An acidic body is a breeding ground for diseases and various infections.
E 330 – artificial citric acid is created from corn. Corn is a good source of protein. The complex procedure of creating citric acid using protein causes the protein to be hydrolysed. This creates the by product E621 or MSG.
Maltodextrin – is a preservative created from starch. Maltodextrin is very cheap to produce. It works to give food a fat-like consistency. Maltodextrin is a carbohydrate that has sugar content in it. When it reaches the system it does not need to be broken down, and this results in it being stored directly as fat in the body. It has a high glycaemic index, meaning it releases more glucose into the body than is needed at a particular time. Side effects of Maltodextrin include weight gain, flatulence and bloating.
E 414 – Arabic gum, is used as a stabiliser, thickener and glazing agent. It causes allergic reactions such as asthma and skin rash. This e-number is also found in chewing gum and jelly sweets.
E551 – Silicone dioxide is used as an anti caking agent. It has no nutritional value and is only added to food during the production process, to avoid clots.
E341 – calcium phosphates are anti-oxidants used in foods – in approved concentrations it causes very little harm. Frequent exposure however, results in an irregular heartbeat the heartbeat is either too fast or too slow.
E 104 – Quinoline yellow, is a green/ yellow food colourant. E104 increases the absorption of aluminum in the blood through the digestive tract. The brain only uses a specific amount of aluminum. Once more than enough is accumulated in the brain, it causes disorders such as Alzheimers and decreasing intelligence levels. It has also been linked to hyperactivity in children and has been reported to cause skin conditions such as urticaria and dermatitis.
E 110 – sunset yellow synthetic food dye. It causes allergic reactions to people with aspirin intolerance. Other side effects include a runny nose and hives. The colouring has been linked to hyperactivity in children. It is already banned in Norway and Finland.
Dextrose – is a simple sugar that is a type of glucose. Due to its structure, it poses risks to people suffering from diabetes. It also contributes to obesity. Since it is also not broken down before digestion, it has a high glycemic index, raising blood sugar levels too quickly, resulting in an increased release of insulin, while there are low levels of glucose, which can cause hypoglycemia.
E954 – Saccharin, is an artificial non-nutritive sweetener with a metallic after taste. It is considered to be 200-700 times sweeter than sugar. It is derived from tar specifically benzoic sulfimide. In the early 70’s saccharin was linked to cancer of the bladder in rats, which led to the FDA requesting it to be banned but the request was unsuccessful. For people allergic to sulfonamides it causes reactions such as headaches, breathing difficulties and sensitive skin. Saccharin is not absorbed by the intestines, but does trigger endocrinal responses, releasing insulin into the pancreas, since there is no sugar to bind itself to . This decreases the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which is one of the causes of diabetes.
E508 – potassium chloride has a bad flavour with a worse taste. It is used as a gelling agent, stabiliser and thickener. People with kidney problems should avoid KCL as it is associated with liver toxicity.
E150c – caramel colouring found in crisps, cool drinks and sweets. E150c is produced by heating carbohydrates in the presence of ammonia. The by-product of this process, methylimidazole found in E150c, was found to have carcinogenic properties in lab animals. It is also known to reduce vitamin absorption.
E951 – Aspartame is used as a sweetener in food. It is made up of three chemicals, aspartic acid (40%) phenylalanine and methanol. These break down into individual properties when aspartame is ingested. Side effects include, nausea, dizziness, weight gain, and insomnia, to name a few. According to researchers and doctors, chronic illnesses like brain tumors, Epilepsy, Fibromylagia and Diabetes are triggered or made worse by Aspartame. The body has neuron transmitters called aspartate and glutamate. Aspartic acid is an amino acid which raised the blood levels of aspartate. This leads to a higher level of neurotransmitters in certain parts of the brain. The part that protects the brain from excess aspartame and toxins is not yet fully developed in little children. Excess glutamate seeps into the brain and starts damaging neurons. Damage in neurons can result in Multiple sclerosis, memory loss, hormonal problems, Brain lesions and epilepsy. Excessive amounts of phenylalanine in the brain cause the serotonin levels to drop in the brain. This causes emotional disorders such as mood swings and depression.
Which crisps are the main culprits?
Most of the crisps on the market contain these ingredients, they might not have all of them but they will have two or three in each, with other ingredients that combined make for an unhealthy snack.
Listed below are the main brands that have these ingredients in their products:
- Cheese Naks
- Try to eat as few crisps as possible or cut them out of your diet completely.
- Find healthier alternatives, some health shops have crisps with a shorter ingredient list. They might not taste like Doritos or Lays but they are much more healthy.
- Read up on the ingredients, always know what you are putting into your body.
- Make your own snacks. With a blender and a dehydrator, you can create your own homemade crisps without the extra ingredients. You will not be exposed to carcinogenic oil by using a dehydrator.
This is an all-time favourite snack worldwide, but it is certainly a health hazard. It should come with a huge warning sign that says…. EAT AT YOUR OWN RISK! The side effects of eating crisps might not show today, tomorrow or even this year, but as time goes on they will manifest themselves. By the time you realise and acknowledge the symptoms, it could be too late to do anything about it. Choose health today by eating foods that nourish your body and guarantee you better health.