The health-conscious veggie chip industry seems booming, with all kinds of different brands and flavors of chips on the market. However, before you take the plunge into purchasing one of these snacks, you may want to consider- are veggie chips healthy or not.
Store-bought veggie chips are made with more calories, unsaturated fat, and sodium than their potato-based counterparts. Plus, some brands add unhealthy fats like palm oil to make up for the lack of flavor in their vegetable base, and as a result, they’re just as bad as regular potato chips.
You may have heard that veggie chips are healthier than the real thing, but not all veggie chips are created equal.
Before you replace all your potato chips with veggie ones, read my findings about why they are not as healthy as they said.
Table of Content
- 1 Are Veggie Chips Healthy for You?
- 2 Baked vs Fried Veggie Chips: Which One is Healthier?
- 3 Do Veggie Chips Actually Contain Nutrition of Vegetables?
- 4 Veggie Chips vs Regular Chips: Which One to Choose?
- 5 Homemade Healthy Veggie Chips
- 6 FAQs
- 7 Final Thought
Are Veggie Chips Healthy for You?
Veggie chips are made from vegetables, and that’s great, right? They’re good for you and convenient to grab on the go, so what’s not to love?
Before you stock up on all your favorite flavors, you should be aware of some things about veggie chips that may change your mind about the whole healthy thing.
Veggie chips are often fried in oil. Chips brands use unhealthy oils such as canola, hydrogenated, or refined oil high in omega-6 fatty acids, saturated fats, and pro-inflammatory.
Some varieties of veggie chips also contain artificial ingredients like MSG and food dyes that some individuals may be sensitive to (read the nutrition label behind your chips packet).
Salt: Tasty But Potentially Dangerous
Moreover, like any other packaged chips, veggie chips can contain just as much sodium to overtake your daily sodium intake.
Plus, some veggie chips have more calories per serving than the original potato chip because they’re made with a denser vegetable like corn or peas instead of potatoes.
Veggie Chips Ingredients
Finally, it’s not always easy to find precisely what goes into making your favorite veggie chips. Because manufacturers won’t provide the complete list of ingredients they use in the making process.
There can also be a concern about cross-contamination with gluten in the chips from wheat-based ingredients. These factors make it difficult to recommend them to anyone with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
Baked vs Fried Veggie Chips: Which One is Healthier?
The making process of any chips can significantly impact the nutritional value of any snack. Deep fried in unhealthy oil is not a good option if you care for your health. Baked, on the other hand, is much better.
The same goes for veggies chips. However, there is a catch. Both baked and fried veggies chips have pros and cons.
Cons of Baked Veggie Chips
Baked veggie chips may seem like a healthier alternative to fried chips, but they’re often just as high in sodium and calories.
That is because all chip manufacturers use dehydration before baking chips. This process shorter baking time and increases the raw materials’ shelf-life.
Those pre-processed dehydrated or dried veggies contain way more sodium from salt (required for preservation) and other spices, sugar, and calories than non-dehydrated ones. As a result, it enhances the chances of obesity, heart problems, and high blood pressure.
Pros of Baked Veggies Chips
However, if we look the other way round, dehydration also has a positive side. Depending on the air circulation, heat, and air dryness used during the process, dried vegetables can retain some (although very insignificant) of the fibers and nutrients of the actual vegetable.
Combined with when they are baked, due to less oil, the nutrients can still be present compared to deep frying.
Cons of Fried Veggie Chips
However, deep frying does create excess amounts of fats from the oil. The fat could be good or bad depending on the oil used. Most manufacturers use vegetable oil or refined hydrogenated oil, which contains more ‘bad fat’ or saturated fat.
Pros of Fried Veggie Chips
If judged according to taste, the deep-frying process creates a crispier chip that’s more satisfying than baked versions, which people prefer over baked ones.
Baked vs Fried Veggie Chips: Which One Is Good for You?
The baked version is comparatively healthy as it has less saturated fats from the deep frying of unhealthy oils, and slight nutrition stays intact from the veggies due to the pre-dehydration. But that sodium content kind of overweighs these benefits.
Nonetheless, if you choose to fry your own chips at home using an oven or air fryer, you can reduce the amount of these unhealthy ingredients.
Do Veggie Chips Actually Contain Nutrition of Vegetables?
Just because a food is marketed healthy doesn’t mean it is.
Let’s take veggie chips as an example. These chips are often hailed as a healthier alternative to regular packaged chips, but they may not be as nutritious as you think.
You will feel a craving for more or feel hungry within a few minutes after eating these pre-processed veggie chips because they don’t have any fibers to fill you up, which natural vegetables have.
According to some research, these so-called healthier versions of our favorite snacks contain far fewer vitamins and minerals than natural vegetables. Also, they are far less equivalent to eating a vegetable like a carrot or celery.
Are Homemade Veggie Chips Healthy?
Whether homemade veggies chips are healthy depends on how you make them. If you deep-fried them like the packaged one, there would be no difference. But air-fried or baked homemade veggie chips are way healthier.
Low carb and high fiber veggies are more suitable for chips than their high carb counterparts. Thus, veggies like zucchini, pumpkin, or carrots are a better option than potatoes.
Veggie Chips vs Regular Chips: Which One to Choose?
One thing is obvious you cannot rely too much on munchies. Yes, they are great for some hangouts or watching bowl games. But too many of them can eventually make things worse.
But is there any difference in health impact while considering veggie vs regular chips? Let’s check it out!
Nutritional Chart of Regular Potato Chips vs Veggie Chips (1 ounce)
|Potato chips||Veggie Chips|
|Carbs||15 g||16 g|
|Fats||10 g||7 g|
|Saturated fats||1.5 g||1 g|
|Sugar||0.1 g||1.1 g|
|Protein||7 g||1.5 g|
|Sodium||170 mg||230 mg|
Veggie chips calories are a bit lesser than regular potato chips. The carbohydrate content of veggie chips is a little higher, and the amount of protein is lower than that of regular chips.
Additionally, they contain higher sodium and sugar levels than other processed snacks.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that vegetable chips contained, on average, just 2% less protein than traditional potato chips.
However, the study based on the sample was very insignificant to justify this. The chart above (based on USDA) shows the protein content is less than that.
Another study found that vegetable chips had nearly double the amount of salt, which is not 100% true but we can see from the chart above that sodium content in veggie chips is high.
Homemade Healthy Veggie Chips
Smart people make smart choices. So if you are aware by now that those ‘healthy’ veggie chips are marketing tactics, it is time to find alternatives.
The most healthy alternative to veggie chips would be homemade veggie chips. While you are making those chips at home, you can retain most of the nutrients of your favorite veggies by following these steps:
- Opt for baking the veggie chips with a hint of oil over deep frying. Deep frying at high heat takes away the beneficial nutrients of the veggies.
- Choose rock salt over sodium-rich white salt for added flavor and health benefits.
- While baking, brush healthier oils like coconut, avocado, or olive instead of soybean or refined oil.
Want to make your veggie chips crunchy like the store-bought ones?
- To make the chips crunchier, cut the veggies into very thin slices (probably with a mandolin), and soak their moisture with paper towels before putting them into the oven.
- Also, sprinkle salt and other seasonings after baking because salt releases some moisture when it comes in contact with heat, which can make your chips soggy in the baking process.
Enjoy your freshly baked homemade veggie chips alone, as a side of your main meal, or with your favorite dips.
Check out some of the frequently asked questions on veggie chips.
Are veggie chips good for weight loss?
You probably are not ready to hear this, but veggie chips are not suitable for weight loss unless you make them at home and take care of your portions. Pre-packaged veggie chips can never replace a well-balanced diet of fresh produce. To enjoy something more flavorful than your regular veggies, you can bake veggie chips at home.
Are veggie straws healthy for babies?
Veggie straws are not harmful or too alarming for babies, but you should not over-treat them with these pre-packaged foods; once in a while is fine.
Store-bought veggie straws are usually made from preservatives and powdered vegetables. For this, they lack all the beneficial nutrition a vegetable can provide.
What are the healthy alternatives to veggie straws?
If you’re craving something crunchy like veggie straws but want the healthiest option, try unsalted almonds or cashews that have been chopped into small pieces. They won’t taste like typical veggie chips, but they’ll satisfy your need for salty goodness without all the unhealthy oils in most processed foods.
Are veggie chips fried?
While veggie chips may be made from natural vegetables, they are often fried in unhealthy oils. This means that they can contain just as much fat and calories as regular potato chips. You may also find baked veggie chips in the market. But that doesn’t help either if you choose to eat healthily.
Hopefully, you can find out why veggie chips may not be as healthy as you think and what to look out for to make smarter snack choices in the future.
While consuming bags of veggie chips, you are doing more harm to your body than good. While they seem a better option than traditional chips, they are still high in calories and salt.
Therefore, if you want to switch to vegetable chips as a health-conscious individual, go for homemade versions. You can prevent many diseases in the future by avoiding pre-packed veggie chips.