- Many people regard vegetable chips as being healthier than potato chips
- A dietitian proves that this is largely a myth
- She, however, suggests that popcorn and biltong can be healthier than chips
Vegetable chips have increasingly been popping up on grocery store shelves and is often seen as a healthier alternative to potato chips, since they're made from other, presumably healthier, vegetables.
But is this new range, welcomed by many health enthusiasts, truly a better option?
"We already know that potato chips are a snack high in fat, energy (kilojoules) and salt, and the fats that the food industry uses are usually more saturated," says Ria Catsicas, Health24's go-to dietitian from Nutritional Solutions.
To find out whether vegetable chips aren't just glorified potato chips available in more fun colours, Catsicas compared the fat, fibre salt, and energy values of eight kinds of vegetable chips with potato chips. The table below displays the values per 100g:
Not a considerable difference
"It turns out that the energy and fat values of most of the variety of vegetable chips are not much lower than the potato version," explains Ria.
"However, the salt and fat content of the sweet potato chips do appear to be lower than most of the other vegetable chips. And, apart from the fibre content, the fat, sodium, and energy density in commercial popcorn (already popped) are more favourable than potato chips," Ria adds.
Let popcorn or biltong be your go-to
Since veggie chips on the market don't exactly qualify as a nutritious snack, if you're looking for a healthy snack food staple, Ria suggests you opt for popcorn. It's tasty, inexpensive, and has also been shown to make people feel fuller than a similar calorie amount of potato chips, notes Heart.org.
"If you're going to buy it, make sure to buy the unbuttered version. You can then lightly season it with salt yourself. Alternatively, you can try the home-made version. It will provide you with 10g fat, 11g fibre, 800mg sodium and 850kJ of energy (per 100g), which really is the best choice."
If you can control the quantity and frequency, then Ria advises biltong might also be a better bet than store-bought vegetable or potato chips.
"Biltong (100g with all fat removed) will provide you with no fibre, 12g fat, 1 700mg sodium, and 1 400kJ of energy," she says.