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Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Big Chip Explosion

Chips, chips and more chips seem to be cropping up in more areas of the grocery store than just the snack food aisle.
Here are the straight answers to common questions that arise from this marketing bombardment:

 Q: How healthy are these veggie labeled chips?
A: Though you may see a bit more vitamins in the ingredient list of things such as veggie straws, when all is said and done, a chip is a chip - not a serving of vegetables.  Don't be taken in by healthy-term-marketing.  A chip is a chip even if it's dressed up like a veggie.

Q: Why all the new shapes and flavors and is there anything I should watch out for?
A: Novelty sells, but novelty isn't always an improvement when it comes to nutrition.  Bottom line - watch the length of the ingredient list and sodium content.  New flavors and shapes often end up with more preservatives, artificial flavors, colors and sodium.  The best chip is a simple chip.

Q: Are dessert chips healthier than regular savory chips?
A: The appearance of chips in the dessert scene is a little disturbing for one main reason - it is encouraging America's already out-of-control sweet tooth.  We don't need more processed foods. Try enjoying a bowl of juicy strawberries for dessert instead.

Q: Are cracker-chips a better choice than traditional chips?
A: Not necessarily.  Often, the longest ingredient labels are found on these cracker-chip-hybrids.  Personally, a cracker make better crackers and chips make better chips, and never the twain should meet.  For me it's kind of like a burger place trying to sell pizza.  But aside from the taste profile, there is often a lot more additives, more sodium more sugar, and less whole grain and fiber.  Stick with a whole grain cracker and a 3-4 ingredient chip.

Q: So, is it ever ok to have chips?

A: Yes! The key is serving size, frequency and overall balance of your diet.  If you have a very healthful diet (i.e. lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains and of water) an occasional serving of chips is a fine and satisfying thing.  Choose simple ingredient list chips, and keep your serving size to one open handful for large chips and a partially closed handful for smaller chips.  Its all about the serving size and balance of foods.  

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