Munching on chips is as old as—well, I have no idea, but I do know people love snacking on a thin, salty-tasting chip.
And since I copped Frito-Lay’s marketing slogan in my headline, you might just be interested to know the snack behemoth has a global presence; Lay’s makes chips for diverse tastes from Australia to Vietnam, with flavors like:
- Beijing Roasted Duck
- Finger Licking Braised Pork
- Chili and Knuckle of Pork
- Oven Roasted Chicken and Thyme
- and on and on
So, yes, chips are a universal snack; we love chips (crisps for those in British-influenced areas). Of course, here in the United States we’re accustomed to more familiar ingredients (mostly potatoes and corn) and flavors. The problem is, greasy, salty, fried chips made from white potatoes or corn are a poor food choice. But we all seem to love eating them, so the idea is to find a chip that is delicious and (relatively) nutritious—or at least not super bad for you.
Here’s a look at seven chip brands we found that are among the healthiest choices—with organic vegetable ingredients, good fats, and no extra junk—from many brands with which you’re either already familiar or have seen on the shelves but have never tried. So read on and go try a new chip.
Created by chefs and pioneered by health food brand Hain Celestial, Terra veggie chips are made mostly from root vegetables, seasoned lightly and fried. Yes, they are fried, but in safflower or sunflower oil—both rich in omega-3 fatty acids with a high smoke point for deep frying.
Terra chips are made from whole vegetables, and not your everyday ones, either. Terra uses Cuban sweet potato, beets—including the unusual candy-striped beet known as the Chioggia beet—carrots, kabocha (known also as the Japanese pumpkin and tastes like butternut squash), naturally blue potatoes, parsnips, sweet potatoes, purple sweet potatoes, taro, yucca (cassava), apples, coconut, plantains, Yukon Gold potatoes, and finally “ruby-dipped” veggies: “kissed with beet juice, resulting in their distinctive autumn red color.”
Terra chips are unusual, tasty, and satisfying in the way a good chip should be, but more nutritious.
Combing through reviews, one thing is clear: People say Terra chips are a tasty, healthy, crunchy, addictive snack that beats the pants off regular chips.
Reviews like this are omnipresent. Folks dig this chip, but know that while it’s likely a better choice than a fried white potato chip, it’s not perfect.
“Super delicious but don’t be fooled that these are healthy snacks. It is healthier than your traditional potato chips but still has tons of calories and carbs. I still would eat these over potato chips any day.”
That tons part may be hyperbolic, but you get the drift.
Late July Tortilla Chips
Full disclosure: I am a huge fan of this brand for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the company’s commitment to help transform the food industry by creating healthy, organic, non-GMO snacks—but also, it donates 10 percent of its profits to the planet and to children, “ in an effort to help advance health and sustainability.”
That good work aside, these chips are delicious and, in the case of the quinoa and chia, just a beautiful mix of flavor, texture, crunch, and nutrition. The nutritional benefits of chia make a voluminous list, and quinoa is packed with all nine amino acids, helping to regulate blood sugar, and is chock-full of vitamins and minerals.
Late July chips are organic, free of toxic persistent pesticides, artificial flavors, colors and preservatives. Sounds good, and tastes better, with flavors like
- Traditional tortilla chips in Crispy Yellow Corn, Buffalo Queso, Nacho Chipotle, Jalapeno Lime, Bacon Habanero, and Sriracha Fresca
- Multigrain tortilla chips in Sea Salt, Sweet Potato, Blues, Mild Green Mojo, Sub Lime, Ranch, and Red Hot Mojo
- Very thin restaurant-style triangle tortilla chips in Sea Salt, Purple Corn, Sea Salt & Lime, and Chia-Quinoa
One reviewer who wasn’t a fan of the Mild Green Mojito flavor was still an overall Late July snack aficionado:
Garden of Eatin’
Garden of Eatin’ is another brand sold by the Hain Celestial food company (the Terra Chip folks).
Using only organic corn harvested by the company’s “sustainable farming partners,” they say it’s the way they hand-shape their chips and their “slow process” that makes theirs a better chip. Made with expeller-pressed oil and cooked with pure, filtered water, Garden of Eatin’ says it does not use food preservatives, its corn is not grown using synthetic fertilizer and is not exposed to harmful pesticides. The chips have no trans fat and not are prepared with hydrogenated oil.
The line is full of variety of flavor profiles: Maui Onion, Bold Chili & Lime, Beet & Garlic, Focaccia, Black Bean Chili, a number of blue chip flavors, and Asian Tamari. While not low-calorie or low-carb by any means, they’re not bad carbs or calories in the Garden of Eatin’ line. And they don’t go heavy on the salt, but there’s lots of flavor.
Buyers of this brand give it pretty high marks overall for being a tasty and healthier alternative to regular chips. An Amazon.com reviewer who identifies as a doctor (no way to confirm this, obviously) says:
One flavor, the Red Hot Blues, is a favorite for being a Doritos substitute. Another Amazon reviewer, who bought their chips in a store but still wanted to praise them:
They are the best vegan friendly replacement for Doritos that I’ve ever had and I never let my stock run out. … As mentioned, these chips are vegan (I confirmed to be sure), and also organic, non GMO verified, and Gluten Free. They are obviously not a low fat/low calorie food, they are still nachos, but they are far better than eating doritos! Ingredient list is short and to the point with nothing I can’t pronounce. I have used these chips to make everything from vegan nachos to taco salad as well as eating them right out of the bag. They have just the right amount of kick to them! Overall, if you love Doritos, but are looking for a healthier option without all the preservatives, artificial ingredients, and genetically modified crap, you will absolutely adore these tortilla chips.
Pretty ringing endorsement. I may just have to do a blind taste test with my son—a Doritos devotee—as a subject.
Food Should Taste Good
With tortilla chips, bean chips and kettle chips, Food Should Taste Good has variety. And with their flavors, too:
- the tortilla chips include Cheddar, Sweet Potato, Guacamole, Olive and Kimchi flavors,
- the multigrain bean chips are Black and Pinto varieties
- their kettle chips’ highlight is the Barbecue Sweet Potato.
I love the ingredient list on the Sweet Potato Kettle Chips bag: sweet potatoes, sunflower oil and sea salt. Yup. That’s it. No modified foods, no gluten, no dairy. Just root vegetables sliced thin, seasoned, and fried in sunflower oil. They are not low-calorie. They aren’t quite low-carb—but certainly lower than white potato chips. The fat content is pretty low and there are no bad fats. It’s just simple ingredients sans junk. And that’s what makes them appealing.
Plus, folks love the flavors and just feel healthier eating them. The multigrain variety in particular is a favorite on Amazon for taste, for nutrition, and as a “great salty replacement” for regular chips:
And Food Should Taste Good chips make believers out of longtime potato chip lovers.
What makes PopChips different is the way they’re made. Not fried. Not baked. PopChips are heated in a pressurized chamber and then quickly released:
first breath of fresh air is a… POP! We give our un-fried chips a dash of the good high oleic oils. then we massage them with our favorite spices and seasonings – voila! a chip that has all the flavor, and half the fat.
There are three varieties with many flavor profiles; the original PopChip, the “Ridges” PopChip and now, the “Galaxy Puff” PopChip—a cheese puff with a Star Wars theme made with aged cheddar.
But back to the chips. Flavors include standards like Sour Cream & Onion and BBQ, but also include Buffalo Ranch, Zesty Jalapeño Cheddar, and Sweet Potato. Nutritionally speaking, there are no added preservatives, artificial flavors, trans fats, or cholesterol. They’re also gluten-free. I love how PopChip described its Zesty Jalapeño Cheddar: “No fake colors, no fake flavors. No fluorescent orange fingertips, no wiping your greasy chip hands on your jeans, no really.”
Comparatively speaking, PopChips rule over fried potato and tortilla chips. A serving—about 20 chips, several more than most—has half the fat and about 40 less calories per serving than regular potato chips.
Way Better Snacks
Way Better has a different approach to chips. Like Late July’s Chia and Quinoa chip, Way Better uses sprouted grains including flaxseed, chia, and quinoa, then tops the chip with “a sprinkle of sweet chili deliciousness or organic cheddar cheesiness.” And as mentioned before, chia and quinoa have myriad health benefits.
Way Better just may be way better, since the main ingredients are super good for your body. But how does a Way Better chip taste? Its Nacho Cheese Tortilla Chip is an “Amazon Choice” product and best seller. Purchasers, nearly 75 percent of them rating this chip as a 5-star product, decided it’s not just healthy but tasty, too.
“I absolutely LOVE THESE CHIPS!!! The flavor is as good if not better than all of the deliciously unhealthy chips on the market…but without the unhealthy part. These chip are my favorite! They honestly are a MUST TRY…because you WILL BUY!”
They’ve got me ready to try.
Lay’s Baked Potato Crisps
Wrapping it up with what many say is the best (or at least not really-bad-for-you) chip.
First, to be candid, neither regular Lay’s chips nor the baked variety have much nutritional value. But a baked chip is a far, far better choice than a regular chip.
A 28-gram serving of original Lay’s (about 15 chips) has 160 calories with 10 grams of fat, including a gram and a half of saturated fat, and 170 mg sodium (not through the roof, but still fairly high).
Those same 28 grams (about 17 crisps) of Lay’s baked chips—which appeared on shelves in the mid-1990’s—has just 3.5 grams of fat (half a gram of saturated), 120 calories, and 160 mg sodium (still up there).
In Plain, Barbecue, Sour Cream and Onion, and Cheddar Cheese flavors, this chip is just a better choice than the original. But Lay’s doesn’t stop with traditional favors or traditional formulas; try the baked Ruffles chips or the baked Cheetos, both Frito-Lay brand snacks. Not every flavor, style, or variety is perfect, but the baked line is a better snack choice than the original fried varieties. And they are tasty. Not quite as greasy and finger-licking perhaps, but a much better choice than the regular bet-you-can’t-eat-just-one potato chip.
You can find these chips anywhere. Short of asking the person with me in the chip aisle (and I would do that, trust me), I checked Amazon.com to see how people like Lay’s baked chips. Of 55 reviews for the plain baked chips, 79 percent gave the chips a 5-star rating. Why?
I like the subtle taste of Baked Lay’s Potato Chips. They are thinner and easier on the bite. They are also more fragile that you see more crumbs inside a bag, no wonder they put more air in it as an added cushion. Compared to the original Lay’s, the baked chips has 3 fat compared to more than five times that in the original with 16 . Also, it does not contain trans fat while the original has 6 of guilt on it. The baked Lay’s has tad more sodium though. Honestly, nothing taste better than actual slices of fried potatoes, But it is great to have a choice if you are conscious about your health.
And so there you have it. Snack away.