Potato Chips and Warfarin

  March 14 is the day we celebrate the potato chip, or crisp, a well-known snack throughout the world. Each region has its own favorite flavor, from barbeque in the United States to masala in India and cucumber in China.1 Potato chips can often be seen at many backyard barbeques, picnics and events. As a patient who takes warfarin, what effects of eating potato chips do you need to know?

Potato Chip History 

For over 150 years people have been snacking on the crispy crunch of the potato chip.2 While there are different old recipes for fried potatoes available in older cookbooks, the potato chip as we know it may have actually been created as an act of defiance. In the mid-1800’s, George Crum was a chef who worked at the Moon Lake Lodge Resort in Saratoga Springs, New York. At that time, fried potatoes were a popular food at the resort. Guest Cornelius Vanderbilt decided that Crum’s fried potatoes were too thick and not crunchy enough. He complained so much that Crum became incredibly annoyed. In response, Crum sliced some potatoes much thinner than usual and fried them until they were hard and crispy. However, instead of feeling satisfied with revenge, Crum was shocked to find that Vanderbilt, in fact, liked the resulting chip.2 Since then the reach of the potato chip has grown. 

The potato chip recipe may not have changed much, but flavors have changed over time. Due to world travel and social media, people are becoming introduced to new flavors found in other countries.1 Flavors that are favorites in restaurant dishes are starting to show up in potato chips particularly with the growing influence of other cultures. In terms of the most variety of flavored chips, the United States is in the lead for offering the most varieties ranging from sour cream and onion to chicken and waffles.1 

Potato Chips and Your Heart 

Despite the potato chip being a favorite snack for your taste buds, the rest of your body may have a different opinion. Potato chips tend to be high in fat, calories and sodium, each of which can contribute to diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.3 While the occasional handful of potato chips is not harmful to your health, if you consume decent amounts of potato chips on a regular basis or consistently choose chips over a healthier option, you could be at risk for various conditions. Eating potato chips regularly has been connected to weight gain and obesity, low nutrition, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.3 According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the link between potato chips and weight gain was stronger than the link between weight gain and foods like processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages and unprocessed red meats.3 Try not to replace healthy snacks you need like nuts, fruits and vegetables with potato chips.3 If you do feel the craving, as we all do, perhaps choose a healthier option like whole-wheat pretzels, air-popped popcorn, baked vegetable chips or apple chips. 

When you do have that serving of potato chips, it’s good to know that the levels of vitamin K are low when looking at general potato chip flavors.4 A 28 gram serving of plain, salted potato chips contains the low amount of 6.2 micrograms of vitamin K. Similar serving sizes of flavors like barbeque and cheese contain about 4.6 micrograms of vitamin K per serving. Even when a different type of potato is used, such as a 28.4 gram serving of sweet potato chips, the amount of vitamin K stays low at 6.69 micrograms. If you are trying to watch your intake of salt and fat, the already low amount of vitamin K is even lower. A 28.4 gram serving of reduced fat, salt-free potato chips contains about 3.5 micrograms of vitamin K while the same serving size of fat-free, salted potato chips contains about 2.6 micrograms of vitamin K. 

It is always a good idea to know about the foods you are eating and how they can affect your body. If you have any questions, talk with your doctor about what may or may not affect your INR. 

References:

  1. Sheinberg, H. Unusual Potato Chip Flavors Around the World. National Geographic Traveler Magazine. May 12, 2016.
  2. Upton, K. Any Way You Slice It, Potato Chip's Going Strong After 150 Years. Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. July 3, 2003.
  3. SFGate. What are the Negative Effects of Chips? Healthyeating.sfgate.com. 2017. Retrieved from the website: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/negative-effects-chips-2980.html.
  4. US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28. Version Current:  September 2015, slightly revised May 2016.  Internet:/nea/bhnrc/ndl.