Beetroot, chickpeas, parsnips and carrots: Chips that aren’t made from potatoes somehow get billed as being healthier than those from fried spuds, with phrases like “less fat than potato chips” or “more protein” often emblazoned on the package.
But while opening a bag of vegetable or legume snacks might feel like a healthier alternative, it’s anything but, according to research.
Product testers for Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia state consumer protection office (Verbraucherzentrale NRW) tested 12 different snacks made from beetroot, parsnip, sweet potato, lentils and chickpeas.
One finding was that the manufacturers of chips made from pulses like chickpeas and lentils, often advertise a significantly lower fat content compared to potato chips.
However, fans of this snack food should not expect to save on many calories.
Chips made from lentils or chickpeas contain an average of around 450 kilocalories per 100 grammes.
The same amount of potato crisps contains 540 kilocals.
This means that you may be able to save a few calories by switching to chips made from pulses.
And yet, the average saving is only 17%, which is less than many people might expect, given the healthy presentation of the products.
And what about chips made from vegetables?
Their average calorie count is 510 kilocals per 100g, which puts them even closer to potato chips.
What’s more, some vegetable varieties contain even more fat than potato chips, according to the product testers.
Vegetable chips also don’t save on salt, compared to potato chips.
The study isn’t the first of its kind to find that switching from potato chips to alternative kinds of chips can’t be confused with eating healthier food.
The latest research is a good reminder that consumers looking to eat more healthfully shouldn’t just trust what’s on the packaging, but should check the salt and fat levels of products when shopping.
“Although the alternative chips add flavour variety to the snack shelf, they are not suitable for optimising your own diet,” says Verbraucherzentrale NRW nutrition expert Katrin Böttner.
For this reason, it’s best to treat vegetable chips the same way we do potato chips : don’t overindulge.
One way to start eating in moderation is to stop eating from the bag, and instead, to fill a portion into a bowl and then put the bag away out of sight. – dpa