Everyone's packed a banana in their purse or backpack, only to forget about it until days later when it's a brown, sticky mess. You don't have to worry about that with banana chips — a perfectly portable version of the original. Just be sure to avoid those fried in oil and covered with sugar.
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Banana Chip Nutrition
Bananas are nutritious, and an especially good source of fiber and potassium. But the majority of banana chips on the market aren't just sliced bananas that have been dehydrated or baked. Most are prepared with oil. Some are baked, but others are fried. They also have added sugar and flavoring, natural or artificial.
Make no mistake: These are not good for you. A banana's nutritional benefits are canceled out by saturated fat and sugar.
Take, for example, one brand of banana chips that contains banana, coconut oil, refined white sugar and banana flavor. One serving, which is 1 ounce, contains 10 grams of fat, 8 grams of which is saturated fat — the kind that the American Heart Association warns can raise your bad cholesterol and increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Compare that with one medium fresh banana's nutrition, which has 0.39 grams of fat, according to the USDA — barely a trace.
It's not all bad news, though. Go to your local health food store, and you're likely to find naked banana chips — just plain banana slices baked to a crisp without added oil and sugar. These make a tasty, nutritious snack. One brand of simply baked banana chips contains no fat and the same amount of fiber as a whole banana.
Keep Your Snack Healthy
When you're shopping for banana chips, check the ingredients label to make sure the product is 100 percent bananas, no added sugar, fat or other flavors.
Once you break open the bag, stay mindful of how much you're eating. An ounce of banana chips isn't as much as you might think. It's very easy to exceed that amount without realizing it.
One serving of banana chips has about 120 calories. That's not bad for a snack, as long as you include it in your overall calorie intake for the day. Consuming two or three — or more — servings in one sitting is going to add a lot of extra calories to your daily diet, which can end up adding a lot of extra padding to your waistline.
Instead of eating the chips straight from the bag, remove one serving and close the bag. Enjoy the chips slowly, rather than scarfing them down.
Better yet, just eat a fresh banana. One medium banana has 105 calories. When you peel a banana you eat one fruit, and you're unlikely to peel open another. One fresh banana seems to satisfy, while one ounce of banana chips never seems to be enough.