If you’re trying to sneak more veggies into your diet, swapping regular potato chips for veggie chips might seem like an easy fix. Not only are vegetables packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, but we know consuming a variety of them on a regular basis can help reduce risk for chronic diseases, obesity and cancer. However, it’s important to keep in mind how these chips are made. Here, a look at what you need to know about veggie chips and how they compare to whole vegetables.
HOW ARE THESE VEGGIE CHIPS MADE?
Pre-packaged veggie chips can be made from fried, baked, dehydrated or dried vegetables, either in whole or powdered form. How a veggie chip is made is an important indicator of nutrition and actual veggie content of the chip, and if you are looking to knock out a veggie serving or two by eating them, it’s important to check out the nutrition labels.
For example, many crunchy “veggie straws” and some chips are made from powdered vegetables and other additives, making the end product very low in fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and actual vegetables. That’s not exactly equivalent to eating carrot and celery sticks, and definitely not as filling due to the lack of fiber. In other words, the bag is gone before you know it and you’re still hungry.
Some other veggie chips are made from real root vegetables beyond just the regular potato, like parsnips, beets, yucca, carrots and sometimes even broccoli and kale. Many of these veggie chips are dehydrated, which preserves most vitamins and minerals with the exception of vitamin C, and retains some fiber. Depending on how these are processed, they may also contain added sodium from salt and other seasonings, and added fat from the oils used. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since fat can help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A and K, but it’s something to mindful of.
ARE VEGGIE CHIPS A HEALTHY SNACK?
When comparing veggie chips with whole vegetables on nutrient content alone, the clear winner is whole vegetables. But that’s not to say veggie chips can’t have a place in a well-balanced diet. If you’re craving something crunchy, and a little salty, veggie chips made from real veggies are a great and healthy choice for you in that moment. Same for when you want just a little something extra on the side to accompany a nutritious sandwich. You can also try making your own to cut back on sodium and other extra add-ins.
What may not be the healthiest long-term, however, is thinking you don’t need to eat whole vegetables or increasingly slacking on your whole-veggie game in favor of some variation of a veggie chip.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Ultimately, variety is the spice of life and that rings true for vegetable intake. There is absolutely room in a diet for whole vegetables and veggie chips, and both can be healthy depending on the context in which you are eating them.