Potatoes are definitely America's favorite vegetable. According to the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association, the potato chip was invented in 1853 and has been America's #1 snack food for more than 50 years. In 2011, Americans ate 1.5 billion pounds of potato chips -- that's about four pounds per person. And while there's nothing wrong with potato chips once in a while, there are some healthier chip alternatives on the market. But whatever you choose, how much you eat still matters. "While some alternative chips may offer more varied nutrients and special ingredients like flax or chia seeds, at the end of the day, a snack food is a snack food. Whether you're eating bean chips, carrot chips or potato chips, you still have to watch portion size, calories and sodium," says Caroline Kaufman, M.S., RDN, nutrition expert and blogger at CarolineKaufman.com. Here are nine better-for-you chip options and how they compare to typical potato chips.
1. Popchips Veggie Chips
Known for having half the fat and all the flavor of a fried chip, Popchips now offer veggie chips. As compared to regular potato chips with 10 grams of fat and one gram of fiber per serving, veggie Popchips contain 3.5 grams of fat and three grams of fiber per serving. "We are thrilled to be expanding our portfolio to provide snackers with the next generation of our Popchips family. Inspired by some of today's most popular vegetables, we are really excited about our tasty veggie chips and showing our continued commitment to bringing innovation to the snack aisle," says Paul Davis, Popchips CEO. The veggie chips contain a blend of nine popular vegetables -- kale, spinach, tomato, pumpkin, potato, beet, bell pepper, navy bean and chickpea. Per one-ounce serving: 120 calories, three grams of protein, 20 grams of carbohydrates, three grams of fiber, zero grams of saturated fat and 200 milligrams of sodium
2. Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips
Kale. It's all the rage. Smoothies, cakes, wraps and, of course, chips. If it contains kale, it has the social "green light" on superior nutrition. One of the better chips in the kale category, Rhythm Superfoods kale chips are USDA organic, gluten-free and non-GMO. Rather than fried, they are air-crisped under low heat. As compared to potato chips, which are low in protein and fiber, Rhythm Superfoods kale chips contain six grams of protein and four grams of fiber per serving, making them an excellent source of both. They are also an excellent source of vitamin A. You can find them in eight flavors, including: Original, Pineapple Coconut, Texas BBQ and Cool Ranch. Per one-ounce serving (Original flavor): 150 calories, six grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrates, four grams of fiber, 0.5 grams of saturated fat and 200 milligrams of sodium
3. Bare All-Natural Crunchy Apple Chips
If an apple isn't going to cure your chip craving, Bare All-Natural Crunchy Apple Chips might do the trick. While most freeze-dried fruit chips have a puffy texture that resembles astronaut food, Bare All-Natural Crunchy Apple Chips are baked. Using special ovens to caramelize the apples, the chips have a sweet and tangy taste with lots of crunch. Offering just one ingredient in the Fuji Apple Chips, these chips are fat-free and have four grams of fiber per serving (compared to 10 grams of fat and one gram of fiber per serving in regular potato chips). The chips are gluten-free, non-GMO, kosher and free of preservatives. The chips come in four flavors: Fuji Apple Chips, Sea Salt Caramel Apple Chips, Great Granny Apple Chips and Simply Cinnamon Apple Chips. Per one-ounce serving (Fuji Apple, Great Granny Apple and Simply Cinnamon Apple flavors): 90 calories, zero grams of protein, 26 grams of carbohydrates, four grams of fiber, zero grams of saturated fat and 10 milligrams of sodium
4. Beanfields Bean & Rice Chips
According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, adults should consume three cups of beans per week to promote health and reduce the risk of chronic disease. Rich in complex carbohydrates, fiber and protein, beans contain nutrients that count as both a vegetable and non-meat protein source. Bean chips are a convenient way to get more beans in your diet. Always look at the ingredient list to make sure the first ingredient is beans. The ingredient list for Beanfields Bean & Rice Chips Sea Salt is black beans, navy beans, long-grain rice, high oleic safflower or sunflower oil and sea salt. Beanfields chips trump their potato chip competition when it comes to protein and fiber. Beanfields chips are vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO and come in seven flavors, including: Nacho, Barbeque and Ranch. Per one-ounce serving size (Unsalted flavor): 140 calories, four grams of protein, 18 grams of carbohydrates, four grams of fiber, zero grams of saturated fat and five milligrams of sodium
Related: 14 Foods to Help You Get Lean
5. Simply 7 Quinoa Chips
The ancient grain quinoa has been thrown into the healthy-eating limelight for it's unique quality of being the only grain that's a complete protein source (meaning it provides all nine essential amino acids) and is particularly high in lysine, an amino acid that promotes healthy tissue growth throughout the body. Similar in size and texture to couscous, quinoa offers more vitamins and minerals than most other grains and is naturally gluten-free. Simply 7 Quinoa Chips are high in protein (offering nine grams of protein per serving, compared to just two grams in a serving of regular potato chips) and are non-GMO, gluten-free and have no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives. The four flavors are Sea Salt, Roasted Red Pepper, Cheddar and Sour Cream & Onion. Per one-ounce serving size (Sea Salt flavor): 140 calories, nine grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrates, less than one gram of fiber, 0.5 grams of saturated fat and 260 milligrams of sodium
6. Boulder Protein Crisps
Lentils are a healthy substitute for meat as they are high in protein and low in fat. Boulder Protein Crisps have lentil protein as the first ingredient along with other plant-based protein like whole-grain corn meal and pea protein, packing in 10 grams of protein per serving. In comparison, regular potato chips only have two grams of protein per serving. The crisps come in two flavors, Dark Chocolate or Asiago Cheese, to appease both the sweet and the savory seeker, and offer 47 crisps per serving (as compared to about 15 potato chips per serving). The crisps are gluten-free, non-GMO and kosher. Per one-ounce serving size (Asiago Cheese flavor): 120 calories, 10 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrates, one gram of fiber, zero grams of saturated fat and 290 milligrams of sodium
7. Food Should Taste Good Bean Chips
If tortilla chips are your preferred chip choice, now you can have a better-for-you version made with beans instead of corn. Food Should Taste Good offers a Pinto Bean MultiGrain Bean Chip and a Black Bean MultiGrain Bean Chip made with pinto or black beans, nutty flaxseed, sesame seeds and quinoa. The chips are gluten-free, non-GMO and kosher and won't disappoint on taste. The key is to watch your portion as a serving size is only 10 chips. To help you fill up on less chips, pair them with your favorite salsa for added nutrition without a lot of calories. Per one-ounce serving size (Pinto Bean Multigrain flavor): 140 calories, three grams of protein, 17 grams of carbohydrates, three grams of fiber, 0.5 grams of saturated fat and 80 milligrams of sodium
Related: 14 Foods to Help You Get Lean
8. Terra Sweets & Beets Chips
With the first ingredient being sweet potatoes and the second beets, Terra Sweet Potato & Beets Chips live up to its name. Other flavors include Sweets & Carrots and Plain Sweet Potatoes. As compared to regular potato chips, Terra Sweet Potato Chips are slightly lower in calories, total fat and sodium and a bit higher in fiber -- offering three grams of fiber per serving as compared to one gram of fiber per gram serving in regular potato chips. Most notably, just one serving (15 chips) of Terra Sweets & Beets Chips provides one-quarter of your daily need for vitamin A, a nutrient important for reproduction and immune health. If it's hard to stop with just one serving of 15 chips, go for the one-ounce bags. Per one-ounce serving size (Sweets & Beets flavor): 160 calories, one gram of protein, 16 grams of carbohydrates, three grams of fiber, 10 grams of fat, one gram of saturated fat and 10 milligrams of sodium
9. Dang Foods Coconut Chips
Coconut has become a health-food darling over the past few years. The theory is that while coconuts contain a high amount of saturated fat, the fat is a healthier, plant-based version that can cure numerous ailments. While the scientific verdict is still out on whether the fats provided in coconuts are any better for you than other types of saturated fat, coconut chips do offer a satisfying crunch with some benefits. As compared to potato chips with just one gram of fiber per serving, Dang Foods Coconut Chips have three grams of fiber per serving. You'll want to watch your portions, however, as they contain some added sugar. Vegan, non-GMO and gluten-free, Dang Foods Coconut Chips have just three simple ingredients: coconut, sugar and salt. Per 0.7-ounce serving (Original flavor): 115 calories, one gram of protein, 12 grams of carbohydrates, three grams of fiber, seven grams of saturated fat and 115 milligrams of sodium
What Do YOU Think?
What are you looking for in your chips? Have you tried any of the chips listed in this article? If so, which ones do you like best or worst? Leave a comment below and let us know. Share your experience on how making lifestyle changes have affected your life, and maybe your knowledge will help others.