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The Perfect Bite: The No. 1 worst potato chips

Hilary Hagerman
The Perfect Bite
October 21, 2013

Who doesn’t love potato chips? We sure do – and as we already know, it’s hard to just eat one. On this episode of The Perfect Bite, host Andrea Jenna is joined by registered dietitian Carol Harrison of Citrus. They take a look at five popular brands of plain potato chips, and determine how you can enjoy this salty snack while still keeping your health in check.

“They taste great, and we all know they’re addictive,” says Carol. “And the big problem is, they’re also loaded in calories.”

“Now that wouldn’t be so bad if most of us had the right amount of calories, but more often, we eat too many calories. So portion control is really important.”

If you eat a quarter of a bag, you would have to swim laps for 50 minutes, briskly walk for 75 minutes, or do one hour of low-impact aerobics to burn off the calories, says Carol.

So, how do our favourite chips measure up when it comes to nutritional information? Andrea and Carol have the scoop.

Also see: The Perfect Bite: The healthiest store-bought apple pie may surprise you

Lay’s Classic (Best option health wise: per 36 chips (50 g), 280 calories, 18 g fat, 330 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrate)

“Lightweight and salty, but not too salty,” Andrea says about this classic option.

“No, not too salty,” agrees Carol. “I actually don’t mind this at all.”

While Carol stresses that chips should be a treat no matter what brand you’re eating, she reveals that the Lay’s chips are the healthiest of the bunch.

“They have a little less salt and a little less calories than the Ruffles,” Carol says.

Miss Vickie’s Original Recipe (per 31 chips (50 g), 270 calories, 16 g fat, 210 mg sodium, 29 g carbohydrate)

“These have a more golden colour, and more crunch,” says Carol after biting into her first chip.

“It’s a harder chip,” comments Andrea. “Almost tastes a little bit more like that greasy, oily feeling, too.”

Also see: The Perfect Bite: Which frozen french fries are the least healthy?

Kettle Brand Sea Salt (Carol’s favourite: per 18-20 chips (40 g), 210 calories, 13 g fat, 160 mg sodium, 22 g carbohydrate)

At first glance, Andrea comments that the Kettle Brand chips look very similar to the Miss Vickie’s chips.

“I noticed it looks like they’ve got the skin left on the sides, too,” says Carol.

“They’re not as hard as Miss Vickie’s,” she continues. “A  little saltier though, for sure.”

Pringles Original (Andrea’s favourite: per about 16 chips (28 g), 150 calories, 10 g fat, 150 mg sodium, 15 g carbohydrate)

“Uniform shape, that’s for sure,” Carol says about the Pringles. “But also a little starchy, as well.”

“Super salty, but really light,” Andrea comments. “Kind of similar to Lay’s.

Ruffles Regular (Least healthy option: per 21 chips (50 g), 280 calories, 18 g fat, 290 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrate)

“I don’t find they’ve got the same kind of crunch that I prefer with the other brands,” says Carol. “

“It still has a lot of oil to the chips, a little bit, but maybe not as much as the Kettle Brand or the Miss Vickie’s,” remarks Andrea.

If you’re snacking on chips, you might want to avoid the Ruffles. While a typical serving size has about the same amount of calories as another option like Lay’s, you get a whopping 15 more Lay’s chips for the same amount of calories.

Also see: The Perfect Bite: The healthiest fast food breakfast sandwich

Healthier alternatives

“If you’re mostly making healthy choices, and say chips are your vice, there are some ways you can make it work,” explains Carol. “Make sure you never, ever eat those chips out of the bag. Guaranteed, you’re going to eat more chips if you eat them out of the bag – it’s always best to put them in a bowl. What you want to do though is make sure it’s a small bowl. Because what looks more appetizing to you? Those 20 chips in a small bowl or those 20 chips there."

"You’re more likely to fill up (a bigger bowl), and if it’s infront of you, you’re going to eat them as well.”

And if you're looking for a healthy alternative that isn't chips, , Carol says there are tons of options.

“One thing you could do is take your potato chips and mix it half and half with whole grain popcorn,” she suggests.  “Right there you’re going to cut your fat and calories by a really large amount.”

“The other thing that I like to do is I’ll bake pita chips,” Carol continues. “So, put them in the oven with a little parmesan cheese, you get that nice kick of salt from the parmesan cheese and the chips get crispy in the oven so you get the crunch from that.”

“And of course, you can always experiment making your own chips,” she says. “Kale chips, apple chips and even sweet potato chips – they’re all delicious.

What are your go-to chips? Do you worry about the nutritional value of them when you’re indulging? Let us know in the comments.

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