Veggie Chips: Are They Healthy?

These potato chip alternatives have been cropping up on market shelves everywhere. But are veggie chips a healthy snack pick?

These potato chip-alternatives have been cropping up on market shelves everywhere. But are veggie chips a healthier pick? Here’s a look at the crunchy details.

YES?

Some of the more popular brands of veggie chips are much lower in sodium than traditional varieties. One ounce of Original Terra Chips contains 50 milligrams of sodium while an ounce (about 15 chips) of traditional potato chips contains over three times that amount (180 milligrams). The amount of salt, however isn’t always lower in veggie chips. Some brands contain even more than potato chips and other snack foods.

Both potato and veggie chips usually contain 10 percent of your daily dose of vitamin C, but some varieties of veggie chips (like sweet potato) also contain 50 percent of your recommended amount of vitamin A.

NO?

As for calories and fat, they’re pretty much in the same ball park as regular potato chips. Calories range from about 125 to 160, while fat is about 10 to 11 grams per ounce. You can always find exceptions to the rule like in Good Health Natural Food Veggie Chips which have a bit less fat at 7 grams per ounce.

Veggie chips don’t usually have a laundry list of unidentifiable ingredients, but neither do potato chips. Potatoes, oil and salt are typically the ingredients found in potato chips-- veggie chips are no different except for the type of veggie used. The types of oil varies based on brand. Popular brands of veggie chips use canola, safflower or sunflower oil (or a combination of these oils). No matter which type of oil is used, they all contain 120 calories per tablespoon.

Don't be duped by the the word "veggie" in their title. A serving of veggie chips isn't a healthy substitute for fresh, frozen, or even canned veggies. One serving of veggies contains 25 calories and many vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals (plant chemicals that fight disease). Once the veggies are processed into chips, many of the vitamins and plant chemicals are destroyed. This leaves you with a food that's much higher in calories and fat with fewer nutrients.

The Verdict

Clever marketing has made consumers believe “veggie” chips are healthy. Let’s not forget that potatoes are a veggie too. If you’re in the mood for a salty snack, chips of any sort can be enjoyed in moderate 1-ounce servings.

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