We know we need to eat more vegetables, so veggie chips seem like the perfect snack choice. These potato chip-alternatives have been increasing in popularity in recent years. But are veggie chips actually a healthier snack? They’ve got “veggie” in the name, so they must be better for you than potato chips, right? A healthy snack seems too good to be true—because it is. According to experts, you might as well go back to snacking on Lay’s.
To learn more about the health effects of veggie chips, we spoke with Krutika Nanavati, a registered dietitian, nutritionist, and a medical advisor at Clinicspots for Diet and Nutrition. She says that veggie chips are terrible for weight loss because the flavor usually comes from added cheese or oil, which adds to the calorie count and the high sodium content can cause water retention and bloating. Read on to learn more about these surprisingly unhealthy chips and some healthy alternatives!
Veggie Chips Cause Weight Gain Because They're Made With Inflammatory Ingredients
Veggie chips are marketed as a healthier alternative to the traditional, fattening potato chips. They're typically made with a number of vegetables, Nanavati says, "such as sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips, squash, and zucchini." These combined vegetables are then thinly sliced and fried or baked until they're crispy and crunchy. Then, the veggie chips are usually seasoned with cheese and spices like onion powder or garlic powder for added flavor.
Even though veggie chips may seem like the healthier choice, this isn't always the case. "The veggie chip's flavor usually comes from added cheese or oil, which adds to the calorie count. The high sodium content in some brands can hinder weight loss efforts by causing water retention and bloating," Nanavati explains.
And, many veggie chip brands are fried, which means they contain trans fats that can increase LDL cholesterol. LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, cholesterol, is generally considered "bad" cholesterol and it makes up most of your body's cholesterol. High levels of LDL cholesterol can cause heart disease and stroke.
"Veggie chips in particular don't actually offer any notable nutritional advantages. The truth is that both are really just root veggies that have been salted, fried, and thinly sliced for your snacking enjoyment. Veggie chips are usually filled with fillers and additives that are heavily processed and not beneficial for weight loss," Nanavati concludes.
Instead of veggie chips, she has some recommendations. Nanavati first suggests roasted chickpeas for a salty, crunchy snack that can help you lose weight. "Chickpeas are packed full of fiber and protein, making them a great snack to keep you feeling fuller for longer. Roasting chickpeas can give them a crunchy texture similar to veggie chips without the additional fat and calories," she advises. Doesn't that sound delicious?
"Popcorn," she adds, "is often considered a healthy snack food. It is a whole grain, which makes it high in fiber and other essential nutrients. Popcorn also contains some protein and is low in calories." Just be careful not to add too much salt or other fattening seasonings.
Nanavati also recommends, "Hummus with carrot or celery sticks is a great healthy snack option. The combination of nutritious vegetables and protein-rich hummus makes it an ideal snack for those looking to lose weight." And, she says, peanut butter and apple slices make a healthy snack for weight loss, as well. "Cut up an apple and dip the slices into a bowl of natural peanut butter for a nutritious snack." Yum!
The Bottom Line
So, even though veggie chips may seem like a healthy snack, they can actually be similar to inflammatory potato chips and detrimental to weight loss plans. They are typically made with inflammatory ingredients and are excessively high in sodium which can lead to water retention and weight gain. Instead, when it comes to choosing healthy snacks for weight loss, choose foods that are high in fiber and protein, while low in sugar and calories. She recommends opting for roasted chickpeas, whole grain popcorn, hummus, or simple peanut butter and apple slices as nutritious snacks for weight loss.