In Kigali, every buffet seems to have chips. Buffet lovers enjoy these delicacies alone with the staples beans, rice, beef, and corn or cassava ugali. In bars, asking for “brochette garni” with chips seems to be the quickest and the cheapest order for a starving consumer.
But how healthy are chips? Like the nutritionists say, “you become what you eat”. So, what exactly are we becoming as our appetites for chips increase?
Gerald Ruzindana, a nutrition consultant with Kigali-based Amazon Nutrition and Complementary Therapy, warns that chips might be cheap, tasty and readily available snack, but the toll they take on the body is not worth the pleasure in eating them.
“The real danger actually arises when some consume them on a daily basis. Too much of anything is always bad,” Ruzindana said.
He said banana chips, Irish potato chips, or sweet potato chips have to be taken in small quantities because they lead to weight gain and sometimes obesity because they are rich in fats and calories.
“Being overweight comes with many health complications ranging from nerve disorders, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, heart failures and some cancer cases,” Ruzindana said.
Chips can also increase one’s blood pressure because their sodium content may negatively impact one’s cardiovascular health, potentially leading to heart and kidney diseases.
Overconsumption of chips is also a potential cause of poor digestion and constipation because they are low in fibre, a digestive hormone that helps in the metabolism of food and the stimulation of the digestive system.
While the nutritionist admits that many people naturally prefer tasty and sweetened foods, he also urges them to think about health benefits of what they eat.
“What should be considered is the outcome of the food that we eat. When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. And when diet is correct, medicine is of need,” he says.