Many people know that chips – whether potato crisps or corn tortilla triangles - are a discretionary food, only to be eaten in small quantities, occasionally. But lately, "healthy sounding" chips have appeared on the market. So are kale or lentil chips any better for you than plain old potato chips? And should you be eating chips at all?
Read more about popular salty snacks on my website here. I compare 50 grams (2 ½ oz) of potato chips, corn chips, cashews, beer nuts, pretzels, rice crackers, BBQ shapes and Bhuja Indian spicy mix for their fat, saturated fat and salt.
There are plenty of new, trendy chips on the market and at first sight they often appear to be healthier than the more common potato or corn chips. They range from blue maize to lentil chips; from kale and spirulina to chickpea chips. Not forgetting ancient grains like spelt or einkorn!
Despite the added beetroot, lentil or parsnip, think of these as still chips with around 30 per cent fat, of which half is saturated (if fried in palm oil) and 68 per cent carbs.
If fried in canola or sunflower oil, their saturated fat is low and these are a healthier choice.
The quantity of beetroot or lentil is usually small, at less than 10 per cent, which is NOT high enough to change the nutrition from the base starch of corn (maize) or potato, which are not especially nutritious in the first place. Yes, there’s some protein and some fibre and also phytochemicals from the beetroot or carrots, but not a huge amount.
But don’t forget that they are really a highly-processed, salty, snack food that is all too easy to overeat. Even coloured (thanks to phytochemicals from the beetroot or carrots), they remain a food that's hard to resist. So many people tell me they open a pack and before they realise it, the chips are all gone! Without them even noticing!
All chips can claim to be free of preservatives as they are a fairly dry product (no moisture for bacteria to grow in) and their high salt content also acts as a preserving agent, just like the salted preserved lemons that you make at home.
I prefer the plain or ‘classic’ varieties which are just potato or corn (maize), oil and salt. Steer clear of the flavoured varieties such as Sweet Chilli or Sour Cream and Chives or Nacho Cheese as these have long lists of additives including colours, flavours and flavour-enhancers.
On the whole, chips added nothing beneficial to your diet and it’s easy to eat more than you planned so it’s best to avoid them where possible. However, the old adage of “a LITTLE of what you fancy does you good”, with the emphasis on the “LITTLE” is probably a more realistic policy than giving them up entirely.
Remember they are a discretionary food. To learn more about more about discretionary foods, check out these posts on the Foodwatch website :