Are Veggie Straws and Chips Healthier Than Potato Chips?
They've got veggie in the name, so they must be better for you than potato chips right? Here's what a registered dietitian thinks.
I love a good snack as much as the next person (or maybe a little bit more). When it comes to choosing snacks, I like getting a produce boost by choosing fruits or vegetables. Typically, that's an apple with peanut butter, carrots with hummus or even a small cup of vegetable soup. So is it possible to get a nutritious snack by grabbing a bag of veggie chips or veggie straws? Here, we take a closer look at the popular packaged snack, stack up veggie straws against potato chips, review different types of veggie chips and recommend what to grab instead.
Veggie straw nutrition
One-ounce of veggie straws (about 38 straws) has:
- 130 calories
- 7g fat
- 220mg sodium
- 17g carbohydrate
- 0g fiber
- 0g added sugar
- <1g protein
They're made with potato starch, potato flour, canola oil (or another oil like safflower or sunflower oil), spinach powder, tomato paste and a few more ingredients including beet powder and turmeric for color.
In comparison, a one-ounce serving (about 15 chips) of potato chips has 160 calories, 10g fat, 170mg sodium, 15g of carbohydrate, 1g fiber and 2g protein. They're made with just potatoes, vegetable oil and salt.
When you stack the two side by side, the potato chips seem like a better option. You get a little more protein and fiber (it's negligible but still more), a little less sodium and they're probably more satisfying. I'd go so far to say most of us like the classic crunch of potato chips more than the airy veggie sticks. Also, though they're adding vegetables to the veggie sticks, they're in such minimal amounts you don't actually get a lot of extra nutrition, just some extra color.
What about veggie chips?
Some veggie chips are actually veggies, just baked until crunchy and packaged up. Most of what you'll see on the shelf is kale chips, but companies are making chips out of beets, carrots and sweet potatoes. Then you're actually getting veggies in. These are a great option for a portable produce snack. You can also make your own veggie chips at home with these healthy veggie chip recipes.
You'll also find veggie chips that look just like veggie straws, but in chip form. They have similar ingredients and nutrition, so they're not a super nutritious snack.
Then there's another type of veggie chip. Made with root vegetables, like parsnips, taro, yuca and potatoes, and fried up like potato chips. You'll get a little more fiber, a little less sodium and some more variety in your diet if you choose these veggie chips over potato chips. The nutrition edge doesn't give you license to polish off a whole bag by yourself—they're still chips. Confused by all these choices? See our picks for the best healthy veggie chips to buy.
Veggie straws and veggie chips aren't a bad snack choice, but they're not necessarily as healthy as their name implies. If you're looking for a healthier alternative to potato chips, you may be better off just choosing potato chips (and satisfying your snack cravings). If you want to get an actual veggie boost, choose veggie chips that are made with just veggies and perhaps a little salt or oil. Otherwise, to make sure you're getting enough vegetables in your diet consider snacking on vegetables like cucumbers, carrots, peppers, tomatoes or snap peas. They're all delicious paired with a dip, like hummus or guacamole, or some cheese or nuts.
Welcome to The Beet. A weekly column where nutrition editor and registered dietitian Lisa Valente tackles buzzy nutrition topics and tells you what you need to know, with science and a little bit of sass.