For many consumers, veggie chips are a dream-come-true. Crispy and salty like potato chips, but made from vegetables, veggie chips might seem like the perfect blend of taste and nutrition. Not so fast. Yes, veggie chips are made from real vegetables and potato chips are made from real potatoes, but that doesn’t make them healthy.
Check out the nutrition labels
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.
Crunchy Veggies – not as healthy as carrot and celery sticks
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.
Making Wise Choices
In terms of fat and sodium, veggie chips are a better snack choice than potato chips. When you eat veggie chips, stick to a small handful since they do contain fat and sodium, even if it’s in smaller doses than potato chips. You might also look for reduced-sodium versions to increase the nutritional value a bit more. Making your own veggie chips is another smart way to create a more nutritious snack. Drizzle olive oil over thinly sliced vegetables, such as sweet potatoes and carrots, sprinkle them with dried herbs and spices and roast them until they’re crunchy.
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.