Chips are usually high in salt, fat and energy and are better as an occasional food. But what about the range of vege and wholegrain chips on the market – are they healthier?
We found chips made from vegetables (kumara, carrots, beetroot, kale and parsnips), pulses (lentils) and grains (rice and quinoa). To make it easier we’re going to call them all vege chips, and exclude potato chips. Some were found in the aisle next to the usual potato chips, but others were on the health-food shelves.
Energy per 100g for the vege chips ranged from 1650kJ to 2560kJ. In comparison, regular potato chips come in at around 2250kJ, so these vege chips are not automatically a lower energy option. We found differences in where the energy was coming from – some chips were higher in protein while others were higher in fats or carbohydrates. Either way, chips can be a high-energy snack, so the trick is to keep your serving size small (around 30g). We recommend choosing vege chips with 2000kJ or less per 100g, but 1700kJ or less per 100g is even better.
The fat in these products usually comes from the cooking method. Choosing products that are baked rather than fried can reduce the fat. In potato chips, half the energy is usually from fat. In vege chips, fat is often only 20 per cent of energy. The vege chips we found ranged from 4g to 50g fat and 0.3g to 11g saturated fat per 100g. Choosing products with less fat will be better for our waistlines and less saturated fat will be better for our heart health. We recommend choosing vege chips with 2g or less saturated fat per 100g. If this is too restrictive, choose less than 5g saturated fat per 100g.
Salt can be what we crave when we choose chips as a snack, but too much salt can increase blood pressure. Sodium in the vege chips ranged from 3mg to 1400mg per 100g. The Heart Foundation has set sodium targets for the food industry and it recommends 550mg or less per 100g for snack foods such as chips. We recommend choosing vege chips with 550mg or less sodium per 100g.
How to choose
Use these criteria to compare vege chips:
The packets of vege chips really shouted out about their nutrition claims. You can use this information to make an informed choice about the snack you’re choosing. For example, choosing a gluten-free product, a vegan product or one that’s organic. Always compare nutrition labels as the products are not necessarily healthier.
Some different vege chip products we found
Lentil Chips Rosemary
$4.25 per 140g packet
Per 100g: 1649kJ, 2g saturated fat, 530mg sodium; $3.04
Nice crunch and subtle flavour.
Mini Bites Wholegrain Brown Rice Creepy Cheese
$4.99 per 8x20g multipack
Per 100g: 1750kJ, 1.5g saturated fat, 538mg sodium; $3.12
Great snack size for adults and children.
Brown Rice Chips Wild Rice
$5.59 per 156g packet
Per 100g: 2140kJ, 1.8g saturated fat, 395mg sodium; $3.58
Nutty flavour and great crunch. Our tasters’ favourite.
Artesan Chips Patagonia
$4.99 per 135g packet
Per 100g: 2030kJ, 2.2g saturated fat, 98mg sodium; $3.70
Really nice flavour and crunchy too.
$3.79 per 100g packet
Per 100g: 2420kJ, 3g saturated fat, 150mg sodium; $3.79
Really different option. Crunchy and true parsnip taste.
Kumara Crisps Roast Garlic, Rosemary & Thyme
$4.49 per 135g packet
Per 100g: 2090kJ, 3.3g saturated fat, 442mg sodium; $3.33
Sweet Potato, Beetroot, Carrot and Parsnip Vegetable Chips
$5.79 per 70g packet
Per 100g: 2560kJ, 3.8g saturated fat, 150mg sodium; $8.27
Sweet and crunchy.
Kumara Crisps Marlborough Sea Salt
$3.99 per 100g packet
Per 100g: 2140kJ, 2.4g saturated fat, 170mg sodium; $3.99
Delicious and crispy. Sweet, balanced flavour.