The chip aisle is wonderfully colorful and crowded these days, with potato chips cuddling right up next to their newer counterparts: veggie chips made from roots and tubers. These bags containing a crispy rainbow of thinly sliced sweet potatoes, beets, parsnips, and the like seem to have earned a permanent place next to their conventional cousins. (Unlike, say, kale or green bean chips, which are a whole ‘nother sector of the alterna-chip economy we’re not even going to get into here.) You might have grabbed them over the bag of regular ol’ potato chips they sit next to, maybe because you think they’re tastier or you feel like being fancy.
But if you’ve been tempted to forsake your beloved potato chips (and shell out a premium, btw) in the name of your health, we need to talk. Because the fact is, veggie chips are no more or less healthy than regular potato chips .
- Quick question: Why do people even eat veggie chips?
- Get ready for some nutrition label truth-bombs.
- These Are the Healthiest Chips You Can Eat
- 1. Lay’s Oven Baked Original Potato Chips
- 2. Kettle Brand Olive Oil Baked Potato Chips
- 3. SunChips Original Multigrain Snacks
- 4. Popchips Sweet Potato
- 5. Tostitos Oven Baked Scoops!
- 6. Wise Kettle Cooked Original (Reduced-Fat) Potato Chips
- 7. Terra Chips Blues
- 8. Saffron Road Cucumber Oil Baked Lentil Chips
- 9. Beanitos White Bean Skinny Dippers
- 10. Simply 7 Quinoa Chips
- 11. Good Health Avocado Oil Potato Chips
- 12. Ruffles Oven Baked Original
- 13. Garden of Eatin’ Blue Corn Tortilla Chips
- 14. Pringles Reduced Fat Original
- 15. Good Health Kettle Style Olive Oil Potato Chips
- Consumer Reports: Veggie Chips vs. Potato Chips
- An introduction to quinoa
- Nutritional highlights…
- How to select & store
- Ethical considerations
- Recipe suggestions
- What Is Quinoa?
- Is Quinoa Good For You?
- What Is The History Of Quinoa?
- What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Quinoa?
- What Are The Benefits Of Quinoa?
- 1. Promotes Weight Loss
- 2. Helps Prevent Osteoporosis
- 3. Protects The Heart
- 4. Improves Skin Health
- 5. Fights Inflammation
- 6. Helps Fight Cancer
- 7. Helps Fight Diabetes And Hypertension
- 8. Improves Metabolism
- 9. Aids In Anemia Treatment
- 10. Enhances Digestive Health
- 11. Promotes Longevity
- 12. Aids Tissue Repair And Growth
- 13. Offers The Goodness Of Quercetin And Kaempferol
- 14. Strengthens Hair Follicles
- 15. Helps Treat Dandruff
- Any Cool Facts About Quinoa?
- How To Select And Store Quinoa
- Any Tips On Usage?
- How To Incorporate Quinoa In Your Diet
- Any Popular Quinoa Recipes?
- Where To Buy Quinoa Sprouts?
- What Are The Side Effects Of Quinoa?
- Health Benefits
- How to Select and Store
- Tips for Preparing and Cooking
- How to Enjoy
- Nutritional Profile
- Introduction to Food Rating System Chart
- In-Depth Nutritional Profile
- 11 Best Brand Name Chips for Weight Loss
- Lay’s Oven-Baked Original Potato Crisps
- Popchips Barbeque Potato
- Garden of Eatin’ Blue Chips, No Salt Added
- Kettle Brand 40% Less Fat Potato Chips, Sea Salt
- Terra Exotic Harvest Sea Salt Chips
- Good Health Kettle Style Avocado Oil Potato Chips With Sea Salt
- Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips, 12 chips
- Beanitos Nachos Nation
- Oven Baked Ruffles Cheddar & Sour Cream
- Pringles Reduced-Fat Original
- Tostitos Oven-Baked Scoops! Tortilla Chips
- Get the New Book!
- Related: Shalane Flanagan Says Her Super Bowl Commercial With Chris Pratt Revealed He’s ‘Definitely Not A Runner’
- Related: Photographic Proof That Soda Seriously Messes with Your Body
- Related: The 8 Best Things to Buy at Trader Joe’s, According to Nutritionists
- Related: Is An Air Fryer Really Better For You Than A Regular Fryer?
- These Are the Healthiest Potato Chips You Can Eat
- 10 “Healthy Chips” That Are Just as Bad as Lay’s
- Kettle Foods Organic Potato Chips Sea Salt
- Terra BBQ Sweet Potato Chips
- Lundberg Rice Chips Sea Salt
- Simply 7 Salt & Vinegar Quinoa Chips
- Dirty Potato Chips Original Recipe Sea Salted
- Food Should Taste Good Original Sweet Potato Chips
- Earth Balance Kettle Chips Vegan Sour Cream & Onion
- Lay’s Simply Sea Salted Thick Cut Potato Chips
- Walmart Great Value Kettle Cooked Original Potato Chips
- Earth Balance Kettle Chips Vegan Cheddar
- And now, the bags that are actually worth buying…
- Quest Protein Sea Salt Chips
- Lesser Evil Super 4 Roasted Red Pepper
- Popchips Potato Chips, Sea Salt
- Rhythm Superfoods Beet Chips, Naked
- Lay’s Oven Baked Crisps, Original
- Garden of Eatin’ Blue Chips, Tortilla Chips
- Kettle Brand Baked Olive Oil Potato Chips
- Tostitos Oven Baked Scoops
- Enjoy Life Sea Salt Plentils
- Guiltless Gourmet Unsalted Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips
- Just Wondering: Are Tortilla Chips Better for You Than Potato Chips?
- Read all about the latest gym openings, healthy events, and fitness trends in our twice weekly Wellness newsletter.
- Low-Fiber Foods
- What is a low-fiber diet?
- What are low-fiber foods?
- Potatoes 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Effects
- How can potatoes benefit my health?
Quick question: Why do people even eat veggie chips?
Potatoes in just about any form are undeniably delicious, but they kind of have an image problem. “Culturally, we’ve all been taught that potatoes in all forms, including potato chips, are unhealthy and ‘fattening,’ per se,” Colleen Tewksbury, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., senior research investigator and bariatric program manager at Penn Medicine and president-elect of the Pennsylvania Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells SELF.
The potato chip in particular is often attacked in a way that feels a little personal. Diet culture has done a fine job of positioning potato chips as a junk food or guilty pleasure. Once maligned for being too fatty during the low-fat craze; these days, at the height of the low-carb diet trend the starchy root vegetables are just too carb-y. Classic chips are also on the hit list of processed food-naysayers. These innocent little crisps can’t catch a break.
Enter: the veggie chip, strategically marketed as a more natural, more wholesome, more nutritious chip. “People perceive them as being healthy: Oh, they’re vegetables!” Beth Kitchin, Ph.D., R.D.N., assistant professor in the UAB Department of Nutrition Sciences, tells SELF. And I get it, veggie chips seem like the perfect answer to someone who’s looking for a salty, crunchy snack but has been told that potato chips are bad for you.
“I think a lot of their appeal is playing into individuals’ desire to have a yummy snack with a healthy angle they can feel better about,” Tewksbury explains. Veggie chips are basically viewed as a way to incorporate more vegetables in your diet while still eating chips, producing a subtle but powerful “health halo” effect, Cara Harbstreet, M.S., R.D., L.D., of Street Smart Nutrition, tells SELF.
The thing is “foods that carry the health halo don’t necessarily translate into foods that are nutritionally superior,” Harbstreet says, “as is the case with veggie chips versus regular potato chips.”
Get ready for some nutrition label truth-bombs.
Let’s set curious tuber branding conventions aside and turn the bag over to compare what’s actually inside them nutrition-wise.
Classic potato chips, including Lay’s and Ruffles, typically contain just three ingredients: potatoes, some kind of vegetable oil (sunflower, corn, and/or canola oil), and salt. (That’s for the plain ones; flavored varieties also contain other ingredients, like food coloring, sugar, cheese, and any number of seasonings and flavorings.)
The ingredient labels for other veggie chips are nearly identical; just swap out the vegetable. For instance, Terra chips—which contain a rotating variety of seasonal root veggies, like sweet potatoes, taro, parsnips, and cassava—have a similarly simple recipe: vegetables, beet juice (for coloring), vegetable oil (canola, safflower, or sunflower), and salt.
These Are the Healthiest Chips You Can Eat
What’s your go-to snack food? Pizza? Dark chocolate? Potato chips? It’s hard to not want it when you know it’s bad and off-limits from your diet. Completely depriving yourself of the good things in life is just mean. Is it possible to eat healthy and still enjoy your favorite sweet and salty snacks? Absolutely. Sometimes, knowing which snacks are healthiest can help you cut back on salt and sugar without quitting altogether.
If chips are the one snack food you can’t live without, you’re in luck. Not all chips are manufactured equally. Many are baked, or fried in slightly healthier oils. Some aren’t even technically made from potatoes. Here are the healthiest ones you’ll find (and love).
1. Lay’s Oven Baked Original Potato Chips
These are the most basic chips ever — and that’s what makes them great. | iStock.com/Kwangmoozaa
Lay’s Oven Baked Original potato chips are among the healthiest potato chips Frito-Lay has to offer. They’re baked instead of fried, cutting their total fat content from 10 grams (Lay’s Classic chips) to 3.5 grams (baked version). Without any added flavors, these chips also only have 160 milligrams of sodium per 17-chip serving. Lay’s Classic chips, by contrast, have 170 milligrams per 15 chips. Keep in mind that even original baked chips have 22 grams of carbs per serving, so eating the whole bag in one sitting is still a terrible idea. Don’t do it. A handful is plenty.
Next: Baked chips are even better when there’s no vegetable oil involved.
2. Kettle Brand Olive Oil Baked Potato Chips
These chips only have four ingredients: potatoes, olive oil, sea salt, and natural flavoring. | iStock.com/Julia_Sudnitskaya
Some brands go one step further when baking their chips — they season them with olive oil. You can enjoy approximately 20 Kettle Brand Olive Oil Baked Potato Chips for just 120 calories. In the process, you’ll also get only 135 milligrams of sodium, and 3 grams of total fat. Of the 21 grams of carbs in each serving of chips, none come from sugar. Kettle Brand’s regular Sea Salt Potato Chips, which are fried, contain 150 calories, and 9 grams of fat per serving. Olive oil chips aren’t perfect, but they definitely have the crunch and taste you’re looking for without the excess calories and fat.
Next: These multigrain chips are actually made with real whole grains.
3. SunChips Original Multigrain Snacks
Whole grains are the friendliest grains. | iStock.com/vm2002
You sometimes have to be careful when food labels use words like “multigrain.” In this case — though certainly not in all cases — SunChips actually makes these corn-based chips with 100% whole grains. Their Original Multigrain Snacks are fairly healthy at 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, and 110 milligrams of sodium per 16 chips. The biggest difference between the original and more fun flavors is the amount of salt. The original chips are the healthiest of the bunch. Look carefully if this brand’s Veggie Harvest chips catch your eye — they’re actually less healthy than the multigrain variety.
Next: Have you ever eaten a chip made from a sweet potato? You should.
4. Popchips Sweet Potato
No frying is necessary. | iStock.com/jenifoto
Popchips don’t fry their potatoes — and they don’t make them with anything artificial, either. These chips are crunchy, salty, and about as healthy as a potato chip can get. Their sweet potato chips are a mix of sweet potatoes, rice flour, sunflower oil, and seasonings like sea salt, sweet potato flour, and a small amount of sugar. They’re just 120 calories per serving (22 chips). There are also only 4 total grams of fat and 100 milligrams of sodium per ounce. There are plenty of Popchips flavors to choose from, but this is the healthiest on the list.
Next: Scoopable chips are literally better for your health.
5. Tostitos Oven Baked Scoops!
Did you know there are two people sharing a chip and bowl of salsa in the Tostitos logo? | iStock.com/cobraphoto
There’s nothing better than a chip shaped for optimal dipping. Tostitos Oven Baked Scoops! are just as exciting as their name implies — and they’re healthy, too. Sixteen chips only cost you 120 total calories and 3 grams of fat. Their sodium content is a little high — 140 milligrams — but you could choose a far less healthy chip. There are minimal ingredients — just corn, vegetable oil, and salt — meaning there’s nothing all too terrible hiding in there. Pair these chips with a homemade salsa or guacamole dip to keep things healthy.
Next: Are reduced-fat chips healthier than full-fat chips?
6. Wise Kettle Cooked Original (Reduced-Fat) Potato Chips
Normally, reducing the fat content of a snack is a red flag — but not in this case. | iStock.com/HaywardGaude
Wise, like many other snack brands, does their best to season their chips with the healthiest ingredients possible. Their Kettle Cooked Original chips have just three ingredients — potatoes, vegetable oil, and salt. No added flavorings or preservatives, especially since it’s the plain variety. Still, 19 chips give out 130 calories, 6 grams of fat, and 110 milligrams of sodium. The vegetable oil is what raises the fat content so high, but the extremely low salt content — at least for chips — almost makes up for that. Surprisingly, buying the reduced-fat version doesn’t add on any extra ingredients or unwanted nutrients.
Next: Is there such thing as a blue potato?
7. Terra Chips Blues
These chips aren’t colored artificially — blue potatoes actually exist. And they’re delicious. | iStock.com/bjphotographs
Never judge a food by its color — unless that color is artificial. Not all colorful chips are manufactured to look that way — especially those made with blue potatoes. Native to South America, they’re healthy, flavorful, and full of antioxidants — making them the perfect base for a potato chip. Terra Chips Blues don’t just look good, they’re good for you, too. A 1-ounce serving yields just 130 calories, 6 grams of fat, and 115 milligrams of sodium. Once again, these chips are even healthier than the vegetable-based snacks Terra has to offer.
Next: They technically aren’t made from potatoes, but these chips are still worth snacking on.
8. Saffron Road Cucumber Oil Baked Lentil Chips
Lentil chips are high in protein and lower in fat. | iStock.com/seramo
Saffron Road sets out to create meals and snacks made with healthy ingredients. Their Cucumber Oil Baked Lentil Chips are exactly what they sound like — chips made from beans instead of corn or wheat flour, baked, and seasoned with a number of ingredients (including cucumber powder). These chips are just 120 calories per serving, with only 3 total grams of fat. They have 180 milligrams of sodium per ounce, which is a little high compared to the rest of the chips on this list. However, unlike most other chips, you’ll get 4 grams of protein when you eat these. There are certainly perks to making chips out of beans instead of potatoes.
Next: You might be able to get more protein by eating more chips. Sort of.
9. Beanitos White Bean Skinny Dippers
Not hungry for a potato chip? Try a chip made from a bean. | iStock.com/bhofack2
Like Saffron Road, Beanitos makes chips out of beans — except that’s all they do. Their white bean chips are packed with protein at 4 grams per ounce. They’ll also only give you 120 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 150 milligrams of sodium per serving. These chips are also much lower in carbs than most other chips at just 16 grams — and 4 of those come from fiber alone. If you’re following a gluten-free diet, or don’t want to put GMOs anywhere near your mouth, Beanitos might be the perfect snack brand for you.
Next: There’s a company that makes chips out of quinoa, and they’re in it for your benefit.
10. Simply 7 Quinoa Chips
Try them — they’re gluten-free! | iStock.com/JKB_Stock
Not sure how you feel about chips made from beans? How about chips made out of quinoa? Simply 7’s Quinoa Chips are made with quinoa flour, which is an excellent grain alternative for anyone who’s interested. These chips offer 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 240 milligrams of sodium per serving. That’s a lot of sodium, but we’re just assuming you’re not going to eat the whole bag in one go here (try not to). If quinoa chips don’t do it for you, they also make hummus, kale, and organic veggie varieties. Just be careful which flavors you choose. Though it’s not as fun, plain/original is almost always the safest option.
Next: Chips fried in olive oil are a little bit healthier, it turns out.
11. Good Health Avocado Oil Potato Chips
These chips are fried in avocado oil instead of vegetable oil. | iStock.com/Fudio
One of the simplest ways to boost potato chips nutrition is to fry them in a healthy oil. That’s what Good Health does with their avocado oil-based chips. The Sea Salt flavor contains only 140 calories, 7 grams of fat (though only 1 gram of saturated fat), and just 45 milligrams of sodium per ounce — the lowest amount of salt per serving on this list. Like olive oil, avocado oil is a slightly healthier alternative to vegetable oil — and it’s only one of three ingredients in these chips. You can buy and consume a single-serving bag knowing you’ve made the right choice.
Next: You never have to say no to your favorite type of chip ever again.
12. Ruffles Oven Baked Original
Somehow, chips with ridges also taste better than chips without ridges. There’s no scientific proof, though. | iStock.com/bhofack2
Everyone knows chips with ridges are better for dipping. As long as you pick the right dip, you’re good to go. Ruffles original baked chips are healthier than their fried friends — and the other flavors in their group. Twelve chips only yields 120 calories, 3 grams of fat, and 135 milligrams of sodium. Ruffles original fried chips have 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 160 milligrams of sodium per ounce. You can still eat your favorite type of chip without overloading your system with too much fat and salt. Oven-baked chips win again.
Next: You’ve heard of blue potatoes. Now meet another food you didn’t know grew blue.
13. Garden of Eatin’ Blue Corn Tortilla Chips
Blue corn chips taste even better with salsa. | iStock.com/bonchan
Today you learned blue potatoes exist. Surprise! Blue corn is also a thing, and it’s what Garden of Eatin’ uses to make their Blue Corn Tortilla Chips. These chips are 140 calories per ounce. Though they have 7 grams of fat, only a very small amount of that fat is saturated (0.5 grams). You’ll also only take in 60 milligrams of sodium per serving, which is basically unheard of in the chip world. Chips and salsa doesn’t get much better than this.
Next: There’s one type of Pringles that’s not as terrible as the rest.
14. Pringles Reduced Fat Original
Less fat is almost never a downside when it comes to chips. | iStock.com/eskaylim
You probably didn’t expect to find a Pringles product on a list of not-so-terrible-for-you snacks. To prove to you not all Pringles are out to stress your heart out, let’s compare the reduced-fat version to the original. Reduced-fat Pringles offer 140 calories, 7 total grams of fat (only 2 grams saturated), and 135 milligrams of sodium per 17 chips. The original, full-fat version offers 150 calories, 9 grams of fat (2.5 saturated), and 150 milligrams of sodium per 16-chip serving. They’re not much better — but at least they’re trying their best to make the most addicting chips in the world a little less awful.
Next: Sometimes the health of a chip all depends on the seasoning.
15. Good Health Kettle Style Olive Oil Potato Chips
Healthier chips won’t reduce your temptation to eat half the bag, but at least try to resist. | iStock.com/GooDween123
Kettle chips made with olive oil are usually as healthy as it gets. Good Health’s Olive Oil Rosemary chips are no exception. At just 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, and 45 milligrams of sodium per serving, they’re high in good fat, low in carbs — and they taste like rosemary. Chips seasoned with herbs and spices are naturally lower in sodium, which makes these chips the perfect snack when you’re craving something crunchy.
Read more: Bad Foods! 6 Processed Foods to Avoid at All Costs
Consumer Reports: Veggie Chips vs. Potato Chips
Consumer Reports just tested 32 different snack chips made from bean chips, pea chips, veggie chips, and kale. Don’t get the idea that they’re as good for you as fresh vegetables, but most of the ones tested are a little lower in fat and calories than classic potato chips. Several of the new chips qualify as low sodium. And some are an excellent source of fiber.
- Consumer Reports: Dairy Case Junk Food
Consumer Reports found several to recommend:
- Top rated: Calbee Snapea Crisps Original Lightly Salted. They’re airy and crispy, have a pleasant pea flavor, and are low in sodium.
- Beanitos White Bean With Sea Salt are also recommended, with a white bean and toasty grain flavor. Ten chips have 6 grams of fiber—the same as a large apple!
- Terra Original Real Vegetable Chips Sea Salt are the best tasting of the veggie chips tested. They’re a colorful mix of real fried veggie slices, including sweet potato.
- Food Should Taste Good Falafel Tortilla Chips are also tasty and cost less than the others.
Consumer Reports panelists found them “bold and unique,” with bean, corn, garlic, and coriander flavors.
- Consumer Reports: Successfully Cutting Cable
Consumer developed a simple recipe for homemade kale chips and in blind taste tests pitted them against commercial kale chips, costing $7. The homemade version won.
Homemade Kale Chips:
½ bag (16 oz.) kale greens, washed, trimmed, cut into bite-sized pieces, and dried
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 375° F. Place garlic and oil in a small bowl and let it sit for 30 minutes. Discard garlic.
- Pile kale on two large baking sheets. Toss with olive oil, coating each leaf. Sprinkle with salt and spread evenly on the baking sheets.
- Bake 5 minutes. Toss kale using tongs to ensure even cooking. Bake until kale turns dark green and is very crisp, about 7 to 9 minutes. Do not overcook. Cool before serving.
- Consumer Reports: Life-Saving Smoke Detectors
Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.
An introduction to quinoa
Quinoa, pronounced ‘keen-wa’ is a great wheat-free alternative to starchy grains. There are two types: red and creamy white. Both types are slightly bitter when cooked and open up to release little white curls (like a tail) as they soften.
Grown in South America (Peru, Chile and Bolivia) for thousands of years, quinoa formed the staple diet of the Incas and their descendants. In recent years, foodies in the UK and the US have heralded it as a superior alternative to bulgur wheat, couscous and rice. Though it often occupies a similar role to these grains in dishes, quinoa is actually a seed from the same family as beets, chard and spinach.
Watch our video guide for the best way to cook quinoa:
The UN named 2013 ‘International Quinoa Year’ in recognition of the crop’s high nutrient content. With twice the protein content of rice or barley, quinoa is also a very good source of calcium, magnesium and manganese. It also contributes useful levels of several B vitamins, vitamin E and dietary fibre.
Cooked quinoa seeds become fluffy and creamy, yet maintains a slight crunch. It has a delicate and subtly nutty flavor, versatile for breakfast (as a cereal), lunch (as a salad) or dinner (as a side).
Quinoa is among the least allergenic of all the ‘grains’, making it a fantastic wheat-free choice. Like buckwheat, quinoa has an excellent amino acid profile, as it contains all nine essential amino acids making it a complete-protein source. Quinoa is therefore an excellent choice for vegans.
|120 calories||4.4g protein||1.9g fat||19.4g carbohydrate||2.8g fibre|
Quinoa is high in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which make it potentially beneficial for human health in the prevention and treatment of disease. Quinoa contains small amounts of the heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids and, in comparison to common cereal grasses has a higher content of monounsaturated fat.
As a complete protein, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids – including the elusive lysine and isoleucine acids, which most other grains lack. Naturally high in dietary fibre, quinoa is a slowly digested carbohydrate, making it a good low-GI option.
How to select & store
Ensure there are no tears or holes in the packet of quinoa you are buying as moisture can affect the freshness of the grain. Store in an airtight container and keep it in a cool, dry place where it can last for several months.
When boiling quinoa, the compound that coats the seeds (saponins) creates a foam. These saponins give quinoa a slightly bitter taste. It is best to remove any leftover saponins on the quinoa coat; thoroughly washing the seeds before cooking by putting them into a sieve and running them under cold water. Once you have rinsed it well, it can be cooked like rice. It will expand to several times the original size during cooking.
Quinoa has generated much debate in recent years. Since experiencing a rapid increase in demand, the domestic cost of production has also risen sharply, with the local Andean population unable to afford it and imported junk food being more budget-friendly. Land that once grew a multitude of diverse crops are now dedicated quinoa fields. Our well intentioned health goals may unwittingly be driving unfavorable conditions for local growers.
Sprinkle it on salads:
Quinoa, lentil & feta salad
Spicy tuna quinoa salad
Toasted quinoa, lentil & poached salmon salad
Try it in place of couscous or rice:
Spicy Cajun chicken quinoa
Spicy vegetable & quinoa laksa
Quinoa rice pilau with dill & roasted tomatoes
This article was last reviewed on 4 July 2019 by nutritionist Kerry Torrens.
Kerry Torrens is a qualified Nutritionist (MBANT) with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.
Jo Lewin works as a Community Nutritionist and private consultant. She is a Registered Nutritionist (Public Health) registered with the UKVRN. Visit her website at www.nutrijo.co.uk or follow her on Twitter @nutri_jo.
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.
15 Amazing Benefits Of Quinoa For Skin, Hair, And Health Ravi Teja Tadimalla Hyderabd040-395603080 March 20, 2019
f you belong to 97% of the world’s population, you probably pronounce quinoa the way the remaining 3% don’t. And you might have heard of this superfood before, but not about its varied (and powerful) quinoa benefits.
If that’s the case, you are at the right place. Because this is an attempt to put you in the elite 3% – the elite that knows what makes quinoa, quinoa.
Table Of Contents
- What Is Quinoa?
- Is Quinoa Good For You?
- What Is The History Of Quinoa?
- What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Quinoa?
- What Are The Benefits Of Quinoa?
- Any Cool Facts About Quinoa?
- How To Select And Store Quinoa
- Any Tips On Usage?
- How To Incorporate Quinoa In Your Diet
- Any Popular Quinoa Recipes?
- Where To Buy Quinoa Sprouts
- What Are The Side Effects Of Quinoa?
What Is Quinoa?
Whatever it is, let’s get the pronunciation right first. Keen-wah or ke-NO-ah. Yes, that’s how you pronounce it.
Quinoa, often called as “superfood” or a “supergrain,” is one of the world’s most popular health foods. If that’s a tad too generic, let’s get into the details. Quinoa (keen-wah, remember?) is a flowering plant that belongs to the amaranth family. It is an annual plant that is grown for its edible seeds. So, when we refer to the benefits of quinoa, we mean the benefits of its seeds. As the seeds are what we generally use.
The seeds are gluten-free. The composition of quinoa is similar to wheat or rice when cooked. It is an excellent source of protein (a complete source, as it contains all the nine essential amino acids). It also contains a good amount of fiber and minerals.
And yes, there are different types of quinoa:
Quinoa or white quinoa, which is the most common type of quinoa available in stores. It is also called ivory quinoa.
Red quinoa, which retains its original shape (better than white quinoa) after a little cooking. This type is more suitable for cold salads or any recipe where a distinct grain is desirable.
Black quinoa, which is a little sweeter and earthier than white quinoa. This variety keeps its black color intact even when cooked.
Quinoa flakes, which are made by steam-rolling the whole grain kernels. These flakes make for a great quick breakfast.
Quinoa flour, which is nothing but the flour made of quinoa seeds. It looks pretty much like any other flour.
Alright. But what’s the big deal about it?
Back To TOC
Is Quinoa Good For You?
Obviously. Otherwise, no point in knowing about it, right? The question is how it can be good for you.
The seeds are rich in fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E, and other minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. They are highly nutritious. And they also contain quercetin and kaempferol, two important plant compounds, more of which we will discuss later.
Quinoa is gluten-free, which means it is party time for individuals who are intolerant to gluten. And it has a low glycemic index – and this means party time for diabetics too. Given it is high in iron and magnesium, quinoa can have wonderful effects on an individual’s metabolic health. The seeds brim with antioxidants (1).
There’s a lot more. Probably a million other reasons you will love quinoa. But in this post, we discuss a few very important of them. Oh yes, and before that, how about a li’l bit of history?
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What Is The History Of Quinoa?
It all started about 4,000 years ago in the Andean region of Peru, Bolivia, and Chile – where humans had domesticated it for consumption. However, archaeological evidence says quinoa originated some 7,000 years ago.
Around the time of Spanish arrival, quinoa was well developed technologically and well distributed within the Inca territory (it was called the gold of the Incas), where it was believed to provide stamina to Inca warriors. And The Quinoa Corporation called it the supergrain of the future.
The plant has undergone numerous morphological changes over the course of human history – as a result of its domestication. Some of these changes include a compact flower head of the plant, an increase in the size of the stem and the seed, and high levels of pigmentation.
Back To TOC
The nutrients in quinoa are the real deal as they alone are responsible for the rest of this post. So, here you go.
What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Quinoa?
Here are the quinoa nutrition facts, There are many surprising benefits of quinoa nutrition, Quinoa is packed with essential nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It’s also considered a complete protein.
|Nutrition Facts Serving Size|
|Amount Per Serving|
|Calories 626||Calories from Fat 93|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 10g||16%|
|Saturated Fat 1g||6%|
|Total Carbohydrate 109g||36%|
|Dietary Fiber 12g||48%|
|Amounts Per Selected Serving||%DV|
|Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)||4.1mg||21%|
|Amounts Per Selected Serving||%DV|
A cup of quinoa contains 222 calories. It contains just 4 grams of fat, 5 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of protein. In addition, it also has –
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What Are The Benefits Of Quinoa?
You can count on quinoa benefits. Quinoa’s fiber content makes it a great food for weight loss and treating other digestive issues like constipation. The fiber also protects the heart and prevents deadly diseases like cancer. The antioxidants this food contains work magically for skin and hair health.
1. Promotes Weight Loss
All your gym workouts and well-disciplined diets are great, and adding quinoa can only make things better.
Quinoa is high in fiber. In fact, much higher than most grains and seeds. Though a major part of the fiber in quinoa is insoluble, it still does contain a decent amount of its solid cousin. One cup of the seeds contains 2.5 grams of soluble fiber – which, as per studies, aids weight loss (2).
There is something else in quinoa that warrants our attention. It is 20-hydroxyecdysone, a compound known to help with weight control. Research suggests that this compound helps burn more calories and consequently aids weight control (3). It also makes individuals absorb less fat from their diet.
2. Helps Prevent Osteoporosis
Let us bust a common myth – that only individuals above fifty years must be really concerned about bone health. In actuality (unless one happens to be a distant relative of a walrus), everyone must be concerned about the health of their bones. Irrespective of their age.
Given that quinoa is rich in magnesium, it works great for bone health. The mineral plays a role in bone formation. Quinoa is also rich in protein (1 cup contains 9 grams of it), a nutrient that serves as a building block for the bones (4). More importantly, it contains all the nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own, which have a part to play in this aspect.
As per other studies, the magnesium and manganese in quinoa also help prevent osteoporosis (5).
3. Protects The Heart
Home is where the heart is, and that’s where even quinoa is.
Getting to the point, the soluble fiber is what makes quinoa a wonder food for your heart. The soluble fiber combines with the bile acids in your liver and produces a jelly-like substance that’s excreted in your bowels. Your liver utilizes some of the cholesterol in your body to produce these bile acids. When the stores are depleted, your liver pulls cholesterol from your blood to produce these acids.
Are you beginning to get the idea here? Good. Simply put, quinoa somehow provokes your liver to extract cholesterol from the blood. That’s it.
Eating quinoa means lower levels of bad cholesterol, and this means a reduced risk of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. And this means you are going to live longer. Party time, again!
Quinoa contains fatty acids, 25 percent of which comes in the form of oleic acid. Now, oleic acid is your friend (6). It is a heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acid, and 8 percent of it is ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which is the omega-3 fatty acid predominantly found in plants.
4. Improves Skin Health
We already saw quinoa is rich in B vitamins, nutrients that help treat age spots and other conditions related to skin pigmentation by reducing the deposits of dark melanin in the skin. And the vitamin B12 in quinoa interacts with the other B vitamins to maintain a healthy skin complexion.
Quinoa also contains tyrosinase inhibitors, enzymes that decrease pigmentation and the associated problems (7). And the vitamin B3 in quinoa, also called niacinamide, helps treat acne. It soothes the red and inflamed areas often associated with acne breakouts.
Quinoa contains vitamin A, which is the mother of all vitamins when it comes to delaying the aging process. It reduces fine lines and makes your skin look young. And the riboflavin in quinoa (or vitamin B2) improves skin elasticity. It even treats acne – as it can help reduce sebum production.
Oh yes, didn’t we speak about quinoa brimming with antioxidants? Yes, these fight the free radicals that are almost always responsible for early aging. If you look into the mirror and suddenly feel you are looking like your aunt, you know who the culprit is.
By the way, you can use this face pack to delay your aging signs. Just cook ¼ cup of quinoa in soy milk and let it cool. Blend this boiled quinoa with 3 teaspoons of yogurt, 2 egg yolks, and 2 drops of mimosa essential oil. Apply it to your face and neck and leave it on for 20 minutes.
Rinse with lukewarm water. Your skin will become smooth and radiant.
Quinoa contains natural protein and anti-aging properties while soy milk nourishes and repairs the sun damaged skin by enhancing its elasticity. This face pack will also make the skin smooth and even toned.
5. Fights Inflammation
The fiber in quinoa produces butyrate, an important fatty acid that turns off genes related to inflammation. And the B vitamins in quinoa reduce homocysteine levels (an inflammatory hormone) in the body.
More interestingly, the digestion of fiber in quinoa (and fiber, in general) releases acetate – which then travels to the brain and signals us to stop eating. The logic is simple – if you eat less, you are less likely to be taking in pro-inflammatory foods.
Quinoa also contains compounds called saponins, which studies have shown to have anti-inflammatory properties (8).
6. Helps Fight Cancer
Let’s first stop thinking cancer is a killer. Because cancer is beatable. And preventable too. Thanks to quinoa.
Harvard University says a daily bowl of quinoa can save your life. Literally. A study shows that eating a bowl of quinoa daily can reduce the risk of premature death by cancer (9). And the American Institute for Cancer Research has a thing to say about its usage – each quinoa grain is coated with a bitter substance to protect it as the crop grows, so ensure you put it in a sieve and rinse before you even start cooking (10).
A Polish study also speaks about how quinoa can be a savior during cancer. It’s about the extracts of its leaves, though. These leaves exert chemopreventive and anticancer effects (11).
Another report by the Yale Cancer Center recommends adding quinoa to your diet to fight cancer (12). Quinoa is super rich in antioxidants – the very compounds that can fight free radicals and other harmful substances that cause cancer.
7. Helps Fight Diabetes And Hypertension
Quinoa is a whole grain, and whole grains are great for diabetes. The fiber in quinoa doesn’t raise blood sugar levels. It also prevents diabetes-related weight gain and other chronic conditions.
A part of living with diabetes is all about taking foods that have low glycemic index, and quinoa, thankfully, is on the lower end. Quinoa also has all the amino acids to make protein (unlike most other grains), which also does a good job in controlling blood sugar levels.
One Brazilian study stated that a diet including quinoa could help manage type 2 diabetes and the hypertension associated with it (13). Quinoa is a complex carbohydrate – and such carbohydrates break down in the body much slowly, allowing the blood sugar to be more stable (14).
Quinoa also contains good amounts of magnesium and potassium, nutrients that help lower blood pressure. Magnesium also helps relax the blood vessels (and by the way, this helps combat migraines too).
8. Improves Metabolism
It’s common sense, if you ask us. When quinoa is replete with so many nutrients, it is impossible that your metabolism wouldn’t improve if you consume it regularly.
And its protein is something worth relooking at. It improves metabolism as well as significantly reduces appetite (15).
9. Aids In Anemia Treatment
Quinoa is rich in iron. One cup of cooked quinoa (185 grams) contains about 3 mg of iron, which is 15% of the daily requirement. A diet adequate in iron can help prevent anemia.
Another nutrient to look at in this aspect is riboflavin – which quinoa is rich in. Anemia can also be caused due to less riboflavin in one’s diet (16). Also, allow us to reiterate the importance of iron. The mineral is required to make hemoglobin, which is a part of the red blood cells that bind and carry oxygen in your blood.
10. Enhances Digestive Health
Quinoa is rich in fiber, and that makes this point self-explanatory. Pretty much. Fiber adds bulk to the food churned in your stomach, and this stimulates the walls of your digestive tract. Your tract contracts, and this promotes better absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. In the large intestine, this fiber prevents constipation.
The B vitamins in quinoa also play a role in digestion. One of these is thiamin, which helps in the production of hydrochloric acid (the acid in your stomach that aids digestion).
Riboflavin aids in the development of cells lined in the walls of the digestive tract. Another amino acid quinoa contains is glutamic acid, which is converted into glutamine in your body. Glutamine is responsible for the health of the mucosal lining of your stomach.
11. Promotes Longevity
There is a Bolivian man who is (or was) 123 years old. He credits his longevity to a daily diet that includes quinoa.
Numerous studies have shown that a diet rich in whole grains (like quinoa) can put a stop to numerous diseases, which obviously enables people to live longer.
12. Aids Tissue Repair And Growth
Quinoa is rich in lysine, which is important for tissue repair and growth. What’s interesting here is quinoa is the only grain that contains this amino acid (17). The high protein content also contributes to this factor.
13. Offers The Goodness Of Quercetin And Kaempferol
These two compounds are of particular importance. And quinoa is very rich in them (18).
Quercetin and kaemferol are known to fight inflammation. They also possess antiviral and antidepressant effects (19), (20).
14. Strengthens Hair Follicles
The protein content of quinoa is what we must look at here. Hydrolyzed protein extracted from quinoa acts as a natural and gentle coating that protects and nourishes the hair follicles from within. The protein extracted from this grain is also used to produce high-quality hair products.
The nine essential amino acids quinoa contains act as natural strengtheners and protect the hair shaft. They also repair damaged hair and promote hair growth.
The humectants in quinoa nourish and hydrate the scalp and keep it well conditioned. They form an invisible film over the hair to protect it from environmental conditions like pollution and dust.
And the vitamin E reduces breakage due to tangling by balancing the production of natural oils on the scalp.
15. Helps Treat Dandruff
Quinoa contains important minerals like calcium, iron, and phosphorus that seal moisture in the scalp to keep dandruff at bay. You just have to mash quinoa and apply the paste to your hair and scalp. Leave it on for 15 minutes and then rinse as usual.
The protein in quinoa also helps treat split ends. And the tyrosine in quinoa helps maintain the original color of your hair.
We have seen the quinoa benefits. But there is something else about quinoa we need to know. Some interesting facts.
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Any Cool Facts About Quinoa?
- Though we cook and eat quinoa like most other grains (and we have called it a grain too, in this post), botanically speaking, quinoa is not a grain. It’s a relative of spinach, chard, and beets.
- There are more than 100 types of quinoa. The most commercialized of these are the white, red, and black varieties.
- Unlike brown rice (which cooks in about 30 minutes), quinoa cooks in just 15 minutes.
- Humans have been consuming quinoa for over 4,000 years now.
- 80% of the world’s quinoa is cultivated in Peru and Bolivia.
- About 20 years ago, NASA researchers declared quinoa to the perfect snack for astronauts on long-term missions as it is rich in minerals, gluten-free, and a complete protein.
These facts could have come across as a surprise. But nothing could be more surprising than not knowing how to select and store quinoa (especially after knowing its benefits).
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How To Select And Store Quinoa
Quinoa seeds are usually sold in airtight packets or containers. The most common type of quinoa available is white, but black and tri-colored quinoa seeds are also available in some places.
- While purchasing quinoa, look for fine and dry grains. They should look and smell fresh.
- To ensure optimum freshness and shelf life, buy quinoa that is well packed and well-sealed.
- Whether you are purchasing quinoa in bulk or a packaged container, check to ascertain that there is no presence of moisture.
- Store grains in a cool and dry place in an airtight container with a tight-fitting lid. A properly sealed container is very important for maintaining the freshness and reducing the possibility of infestation. This way, they will stay fresh for months or for over a year, if stored away from sunlight and heat.
- While purchasing quinoa seeds, do keep in mind that quinoa expands several times its original size. Hence, purchase in small quantities or as per requirement.
- You can also freeze quinoa as a long-term option. Cooked quinoa can be freezed in an airtight container.
- It is actually difficult to say if quinoa seeds are rotten. Since quinoa has a long shelf life, it does not become rancid or smelly with time.
- Cooked quinoa shows a loss of texture and acquires mold as it gets spoiled. Do not allow cooked quinoa to sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
Well, there are other ways you can use quinoa in your cooking. Want to know?
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Any Tips On Usage?
Quinoa uses are many, you can use this grain in just about everything, from breakfast to dinner. Quinoa has a nutty and earthy flavor. It pairs best with savories like stews and curries. After cooking, it becomes quite fluffy and chewy and attains a very pleasant taste. The pearly white quinoas or light yellow quinoas are the fluffiest while the red and black ones are more compact.
Quinoa has a thick outer coat that must be removed before consuming. This covering protects the seeds from insects and birds. The outer coat has a bitter, soap-like taste, and, if consumed, can cause severe stomach pain, flatulence, and laxative diarrhea. So, prior to cooking, wash quinoa thoroughly and soak it for 2 hours. Then, change the water, soak again, and rinse it. Wash it repeatedly until the foam disappears completely. This process will remove the pesticide residue, saponins, and their bitterness.
Quinoa can be cooked in the same way as we cook other staple grains like buckwheat, rice, barley, etc. Its seeds are used to prepare porridge, soup, and stew and are ground to flour to prepare bread, alcohol, noodles, flakes, cookies, biscuits, pasta, cakes, buns, and even cold drinks in the Andean regions. You can mix quinoa flour with wheat, oats, and maize flour to enrich the protein quality of the meal. Quinoa is perfect for salad preparation as its grassy flavor and texture gel very well with lettuces and other leafy vegetables. You can add quinoa to your baked goods like muffins and pancakes to give them a distinct flavor.
To cook quinoa in the healthiest way, add one part of the grain to two parts of water and simmer for 20 minutes. The grains become translucent, with the white germ partially detaching itself. You can even roast quinoa before cooking to enhance its taste and give a crunchy texture. Place the seeds in a frying pan and roast on medium to low heat while stirring constantly for 5 minutes.
And in case you are wondering…
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How To Incorporate Quinoa In Your Diet
Quinoa leaves and flower heads are eaten as vegetables and used to prepare curries, salads, and soups. But blanch the leaves and heads in boiling water before cooking as they contain oxalic acid, which can lead to kidney stones if consumed in large quantities.
Cold pressed quinoa oil is one of the most sought after oils used for cooking and dressing. It adds an amazing flavor and aroma to the dishes.
Since quinoa is completely gluten-free, it is a perfect food to include in a gluten-free diet. It also has very good digestibility, which decreases the risk of developing an adverse reaction to quinoa.
Quinoa can be a replacement to rice (both brown and white) as well. If we talk about brown rice, quinoa has more iron and magnesium than brown rice. The two have equal amounts of B vitamins. And with white rice, quinoa is a better choice any given day – just one cup of cooked quinoa has 40 fewer calories than the same amount of white rice. Also, white rice contains 15 times more carbs than quinoa, while quinoa is a great source of fiber and protein.
You just saw what are quinoa benefits, how to include quinoa in your diet. How about checking out a few simple and easy ways on how to cook quinoa deliciously?
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Any Popular Quinoa Recipes?
1. Kale And Quinoa Salad
What You Need
- 2 cups of water
- 1 cup of quinoa
- 10 leaves of kale, cut into small pieces
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
- 1 large minced garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground sea salt
- 1 cup of pecans
- 1 cup of currants
- 3/4 cup of feta cheese
- In a saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir the quinoa into the boiling water, reduce the heat to medium-low and place a cover over the saucepan. Cook until the quinoa absorbs water. Now, remove the saucepan from the heat and let it rest (covered) for 5 minutes. Remove the cover and allow the quinoa to cool completely.
- Add kale to a large mixing bowl.
- Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic, pepper, and salt in a bowl. Do it until the oil emulsifies into the mixture, and then drizzle it over kale.
- Add the cooled quinoa, pecans, currants, and feta cheese to the dressed kale. Toss well.
2. Vegan Quinoa And Black Beans Recipe
- 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of minced garlic
- 3/4 cup of uncooked quinoa
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
- 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon of lime juice
- 1 cup of frozen corn
- 2 cans of black beans
- 1/2 cup of fresh chopped cilantro
- 1 ripe avocado, diced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Firstly, rinse the quinoa in a strainer. This will get rid of the bitter taste on the outside of quinoa.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes.
- Add the quinoa and vegetable broth to the pan. Now, add the cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil and then cover it. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add the lime juice and frozen corn to the pan and stir well. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Mix in the black beans and cilantro. You can garnish with the chopped avocado.
- You can serve the dish hot or cold. Store in the refrigerator.
We promise the recipes will stay in your hearts for a long time. But for that, you need to first get quinoa, right?
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Where To Buy Quinoa Sprouts?
You can find quinoa sprouts in health food stores, where they are often sold in bulk. You might also want to look for quinoa in any special gluten-free section of the supermarket.
You saw every good thing about quinoa. But hey, the seeds have a few side effects too. And you need to know them as well.
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What Are The Side Effects Of Quinoa?
Now we know about quinoa benefits but quinoa doesn’t have very serious side effects. However, you might have the following problems if you take it in excess.
- Digestive Issues
Since quinoa is rich in fiber, having it in excess can lead to gas, bloating, and diarrhea. This is especially true if you are not used to eating a lot of fiber.
Also, talk to your doctor before you take quinoa for its saponin content. Yes, we have spoken about the benefits of saponins – but certain sources say they might cause intestinal damage.
- Kidney Stones
Quinoa contains varying amounts of oxalic acid. While this acid is excreted in urine, it can also bind with calcium and form kidney stones in vulnerable individuals. In case you have a previous history of kidney stones, avoid its use and talk to your doctor first.
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Welcome to the elite 3%. Now be a responsible human being and include quinoa in your diet right away, okay?
And tell us how this post on quinoa benefits has helped you. Your experience can help others as well. Just leave a comment in the box below.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
How much liquid do you need to cook quinoa?
A cup of quinoa requires about 2 cups of liquid.
Why does some quinoa have a bitter taste?
This natural bitterness comes from chemicals called saponins, about which we have discussed in this post. Saponins are found outside the seed and can be removed by rinsing the seeds vigorously in a mesh strainer. Certain brands of quinoa (like RiceSelect®) already sell prewashed quinoa, and you don’t have to rinse it again.
What is the shelf life of quinoa?
If stored properly, quinoa can last for up to 2 years. For longer shelf life, you can store it in the refrigerator or freezer.
Is quinoa good for babies?
Yes. It works great for their health. Just make sure your baby is at least 8 months old before he/she is introduced to quinoa.
How to make quinoa milk?
You just need a cup of cooked quinoa, 3 cups of water, 4 dates, and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. Blend the quinoa with water, strain it using a cheesecloth, pour the milk in a blender, and blend with the dates and cinnamon.
Can you eat quinoa raw?
Yes, if it is first soaked and sprouted. But certain experts recommend eating it cooked as it is safer and much better.
- “Evaluation of indigenous grains from the…”. Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brazil.
- “Dietary fiber and energy regulation”. The Journal of Nutrition.
- “Quinoa extract enriched in 20-hydroxyecdysone…”. Institut Biophytis, France.
- “Tips for living it – protein-rich vegetarian foods”. Loma Linda University Health.
- “Short-term oral magnesium supplementation…”. Yeditepe University Hospital, Istanbul, Turkey.
- “Secrets of super grains”. University of Washington.
- “Quinoa skincare benefits”. Newsweek.
- “Anti-inflammatory activity of saponins from quinoa…”. Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Beijing, China.
- “Daily bowl of quinoa can save your life…”. The Telegraph.
- “AICR health talk”. American Institute of Cancer Research.
- “Antioxidant and anticancer activities…”. University of Life Sciences, Lublin, Poland.
- “Using nutrition to fight cancer”. Yale Cancer Center.
- “Evaluation of indigenous grains from the…”. Universidade de Sao Paulo, Brazil.
- “Diabetes”. Aging Partners.
- “Protein intake and energy balance”. Maastricht University, The Netherlands.
- “Riboflavin”. National Institutes of Health.
- “Promoting fruit and veggie consumption…”. New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.
- “Total antioxidant capacity and content of flavonoids…”. Universidad Mayor de San Andres, Bolivia.
- “Quercetin transiently increases energy expenditure…”. Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Los Angeles, USA.
- “Anti-depressant natural flavonols…”. ScienceDirect.
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Ravi Teja Tadimalla
Ravi Teja Tadimalla is a Senior Content Writer who specializes in writing on Health and Wellness. He graduated from SRM University, Chennai, and has been in the field for well over 4 years now. His work involves extensive research on how one can maintain better health through natural foods and organic supplements. Ravi has written over 250 articles and is also a published author. Reading and theater are his other interests.
What’s New and Beneficial About Quinoa
- The growing popularity of quinoa among U.S. consumers has led to greater availability of different quinoa varieties in many supermarkets. In addition to white varieties (sometimes called ivory quinoa) that are most common, both red and black quinoa varieties are becoming more widely available. Recent studies have shown these colorful varieties to provide some added amounts of phytonutrients called betaxanthins and betacyanins. These phytonutrients are likely to provide added antioxidant benefits from quinoa. Yellow quinoa – not yet commonly available to U.S. consumers – is yet another colorful variety that provides additional betaxanthins. We encourage you to incorporate the full rainbow of colors when enjoying quinoa in your meal plan! Quinoa is abundant in flavonoids. Studies have shown that flavonoids aid in reducing oxidative stress and free radical damage.
- If you are not yet familiar with this unique and health-supportive food, you are not alone: average consumption of quinoa in the U.S. is just over 1 ounce per year. But in countries like Bolivia and Peru where quinoa has been regularly enjoyed for several thousand years, the average yearly intake of quinoa is 4-5 pounds. This intake range corresponds almost exactly to intake of oats in the U.S. Just as with oats, there are many different ways to incorporate quinoa into your meal plan, including use in salads, pilafs, and soups. Quinoa sprouts are also becoming a popular choice for taking full advantage of quinoa’s versatility.
- At WHFoods, we include quinoa in our grain food group, since the seeds of this plant are most commonly used in a way that is very similar to grains. In terms of its composition, however, quinoa is not a grain since it is not a member of the grass family (Poaceae/Gramineae). But for a food that is used so similarly to grains, quinoa is one of the few foods in this broad grain-like category whose seeds are routinely enjoyed in whole food form without removal of the bran or germ. (For example, within the U.S., the vast majority of wheat and rice are consumed have been processed for removal of the bran and germ.) Since these parts of the seed are especially nutrient-rich, it’s great to come across a grain-like food that is routinely available on supermarket shelves in a minimally processed form.
- While quinoa has long been recognized for its outstanding protein content, recent studies have helped to clarify some key strengths of this food from a protein standpoint. 3/4th cup of quinoa provide 8 grams of protein – very similar to 1 cup of yogurt, and about double the amount of protein in an equivalent amount of wheat or brown rice. Equally important, within these 8 grams of protein are plentiful amounts of many amino acids (the building blocks of protein). In fact, for all amino acid requirements set forth by the World Health Organization (WHO), quinoa provides between 70-360% of each required amino acid (using the milligrams/gram standard put forth by the WHO). When combined together, the high total protein content of quinoa and its outstanding amino acid composition make it a fantastic source of plant protein in any meal plan.
(185.00 grams) Calories: 222
This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Quinoa provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Quinoa can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Quinoa, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.
- Health Benefits
- How to Select and Store
- Tips for Preparing and Cooking
- How to Enjoy
- Nutritional Profile
Outstanding Overall Nutrient Richness from Quinoa
At WHFoods, we think about nutrient richness as including many different categories of nutrients. Among conventional nutrients, our most important categories are macronutrients (including protein, fiber, and high-quality fats like omega-3s), vitamins, and minerals. Among phytonutrients, we look especially closely at carotenoids and flavonoids, as well as other phytonutrients especially well-known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Quinoa is a food whose nutrient richness spans all of the categories above! Earlier in this profile, we noted the nearly doubled total protein quantity in quinoa versus wheat or brown rice when measured in equivalent cooked amounts. We also pointed out the outstanding amino acid composition within quinoa proteins – something that plant proteins don’t always achieve. But protein is not the only macronutrient provided by this amazing plant food. The fiber content of quinoa is just over 5 grams per 3/4 cooked cup, and include substantial amounts of both soluble and insoluble fiber. The fact that quinoa is typically consumed in whole form helps increase the fiber-like components that it provides, including insoluble fibers and nonstarch polysaccharides found in the seed coat. Quinoa also provides us with 180 milligrams of omega-3s (in the form of alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA) in 3/4th of a cooked cup.
Quinoa ranks as a good source of many minerals including zinc, copper, magnesium, and phosphorus. At WHFoods, quinoa actually ranks in our Top 10 foods for magnesium. It also provides nearly 3 milligrams of iron per 3/4th cooked cup, which actually puts it slightly above a 4-ounce serving of either lamb or beef. Among antioxidant-related minerals, quinoa is richest in manganese, and it ranks among our Top 25 WHFoods for this mineral. Folate qualifies as one of the key vitamins provided by quinoa, and you’ll get about 20% of the Daily Value for this B-vitamin from a single 3/4th cup serving (cooked). Cooked quinoa also provides about 10-15% of most other B-complex vitamins in this same serving size.
Over 20 different phenolic phytonutrients have been identified in quinoa, including many phenolic acids and polyphenols. Virtually all of these phytonutrients have been shown to provide antioxidant benefits, and many provide anti-inflammatory benefits as well. The list of phenolic phytonutrients in quinoa includes: chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid, hesperidin, isoquercetin, quercetin, kaempferol, neohesperidin, rosmarinic acid, rutin, and vanillic acid.
Betalains are a group of phytonutrients that provide red and yellow quinoa varieties with their unique colors. Betalains can actually be found varying degrees in most varieties of quinoa members and have been shown to increase the antioxidant capacity and free radical scavenging benefits provided by this food. So it makes sense to enjoy the full spectrum of quinoa color varieties in your meal plan!
One of the most unusual categories of phytonutrients in quinoa are its phytoecdysteroids. (One particular phytoecdysteroid – called 20-hydroxyecdysone (20HE) – has been shown to be especially concentrated in quinoa.) While purified ecdysterone supplements are sold as body building aids to help with development of muscle tissue, few studies exist on consumption of ecdysteroids as naturally contained within common plant foods, including quinoa. Research interest in these compounds includes speculation about their potential role in blood sugar regulation.
Potential Health Benefits from Quinoa
As might be expected from a food that serves as a good source of protein and fiber, as well as a low glycemic index (GI) value, quinoa has raised the interest of researchers with respect to better blood sugar regulation, decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, and other aspects of metabolism related to blood sugar. Unfortunately, most of the studies in this area have been conducted on animals and we have yet to see a large scale study on humans enjoying quinoa as part of their regular food intake. We would be surprised, however, if quinoa did not turn out to show benefits for blood sugar regulation given its chemistry and nutrient-richness.
Like blood sugar benefits, cardiovascular benefits fall into another area of health support that we would expect to be provided by quinoa. However, the research we’ve reviewed in this area is not extensive and comes primarily from animal studies. In these studies, the equivalent of roughly 1/2-1 cup of cooked quinoa in a person’s diet per day over a period of approximately 1-2 months has been associated with decreases in blood triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol, and total cholesterol. In addition, risk of lipid peroxidation (oxygen-based damaged to blood fats) has been shown to decrease in some of these studies. The well-documented antioxidant capacity of quinoa – provided in large part by its impressive array of phenols and polyphenols – makes these animal study findings on lipid peroxidation very likely to apply to humans, and we expect this health benefit to eventually be demonstrated in human dietary studies as well.
As a non-grass grain, quinoa can provide a great grain-like addition to “gluten-free” meal plans, and quinoa has been shown to be well-tolerated by persons who are required to avoid wheat, including persons diagnosed with celiac disease. In addition, there are some studies showing potentially greater digestibility of quinoa in comparison to cereal grains. In short: quinoa is a food that can be incorporated into your meal plan like a grain, but which doesn’t raise the same concerns that cereal grains sometimes raise.
When the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) declared that 2013 to be recognized as “The International Year of the Quinoa,” it made mention of many health benefits described above. But it also focused on the relatively low cost of this plant food and its great adaptability to climate, allowing it to play a helpful role in food security worldwide. Even if food security is not a personal concern, however, it would be correct to think about quinoa as a very helpful and potentially stabilizing factor in your meal plan that can provide you with outstanding overall benefits.
Many popular descriptions of quinoa describe it as a “pseudocereal.” That’s because grains are often referred to as “cereal grains” and cereal grains all belong to the grass family of plants (Poaceae/Gramineae). At WHFoods, we include quinoa as one of our 8 grains, even though it is not a member of the grass family like wheat, oats, barley, rye, rice, and millet. (We include one other non-grass among our 8 grains, and that is buckwheat.) Our reason for including quinoa among our grains is simple: the seeds of this plant are widely used and enjoyed in the same way as true cereal grains. Not only is quinoa often substituted for rice or used it in a side dish in much the same way as wheat is used in couscous; it is also often ground into flour and used to make noodles and baked goods. In fact, like malted barley and other grains, quinoa is used in some parts of the world for the brewing of beer.
The part of the quinoa plant that you will find in your local grocery is its seed. In fact, use of the word “quinoa” is so common that many people do not even stop to think about the fact that the very small, roundish, bits they are seeing before them are actually plant seeds. Similarly, it is possible to have enjoyed quinoa for a long period of time without ever having set eyes on the quinoa plant itself. The flowers of these gorgeous plants are startling beautiful in color, and the leaves are reminiscent of many different types of salad greens. Not only are quinoa leaves edible – they are used in many cuisines in much the same way as spinach, which belongs to the same plant family as quinoa (the Amaranthaceae family). Along with quinoa and spinach, this plant family also includes beets and Swiss chard. It’s worth noting here that quinoa was originally classified within the Chenopodiaceae or goosefoot family of plants, but this entire family was eventually subsumed within the Amaranthaceae.
Quinoa varieties are typically defined in terms of color. These varieties include white, yellow, red and black, although the exact shades can vary and are often softer than these names sometimes imply. White quinoa (sometimes called ivory quinoa) is the most common variety in U.S. supermarkets and is the mildest in taste and the least crunchy after being cooked. It also tends to cook a bit faster than the other color varieties. Red and black quinoa varieties are usually described as stronger and more earthy in flavor, but we think of all quinoa varieties as having a somewhat nut-like taste and delicate as opposed to harsh. Because of their unique betaxanthin and betacyanin combinations, quinoa varieties of all colors deserve a place in healthy meal plans.
One final note in this description section about pronunciation of the word “quinoa”: the most often used version here is “KEEN-wah.” The word “quinoa” originated in one of the native languages (Quechua) spoken by people in the Andes Mountains region along the Western coast of South America. The word for quinoa in Quechua was “kinuwa.”
Quinoa has a rich, wonderful, and long history in the cuisines of South America, and its basic genetic types can still be divided up according to basic geographical regions on this continent. Included here are the sea level regions of Chile; the highland regions of Peru and Bolivia; and the Inter-Andean valleys in Columbia, Ecuador and Peru. Quinoa thrived in the arid and semi-arid regions provided by parts of the Andes Mountains, and while it grew wild in those regions, it was cultivated as early as 5000-3000 B.C. and has remained a staple part of “Andean” cuisines from that time all the way up until today. In fact, Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador (in that order) remain the top quinoa producing countries in the world, with a combined production of nearly 250,000 metric tons each year.
Within the U.S., one special spot – the San Luis Valley in the Colorado Rockies – has seen successful large-scale production of quinoa beginning in the 1980’s. Since that time, U.S. commercial production of quinoa has grown to include acreage in both Southern and Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Still, quinoa imports from South America presently account for most of the quinoa that is enjoyed within the U.S.
How to Select and Store
Quinoa is generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Just as with any other food that you may purchase in the bulk section, make sure that the bins containing the quinoa are covered and that the store has a good product turnover so as to ensure its maximal freshness. Whether purchasing quinoa in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture. When deciding upon the amount to purchase, remember that quinoa expands during the cooking process to several times (usually triple) its original size. You are very likely to find quinoa in your local supermarket, but if you don’t, check for it at a grocery that includes a natural foods section, because it’s usually on the shelf.
White quinoa is most common type that you will find in most stores, although red and black quinoa are becoming more widely available. We have even seen tri-color mixtures of quinoa being sold in both pre-packaged form and in bulk bins.
Store quinoa in an airtight container. It will keep for a longer period of time, approximately three to six months, if stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
Tips for Preparing and Cooking
Tips for Preparing Quinoa
If you are trying to prepare quinoa in a way that sweetens its natural taste, you can rinse the seeds, rub them gently together, and then re-rinse them to remove some of the components that bring a partly bitter taste to this food. A fine-meshed strainer makes the process easy to carry out – so much so that you will find strainers being advertised as “quinoa strainers.” Included among these components are phytonutrients called saponins, which play an important role in protection of the quinoa plant, but which have also been shown to provide us with potential health benefits. For this reason, thorough rinsing of quinoa is something of a judgment call: if you find the taste of unrinsed quinoa to be objectionable, it makes good sense to use the rinsing process above and prepare a quinoa dish that will be fully delicious and enjoyable to eat. If you don’t mind or even prefer the taste of unrinsed quinoa, you can very lightly rinse or even forego the rinsing process. In this context, we would also add that some pre-packaged quinoa has been pre-rinsed during production, and that the seeds of some quinoa varieties (especially white varieties) can be relatively sweet in their natural form.
The Healthiest Way of Cooking Quinoa
To cook the quinoa, add one part of the grain to two parts liquid in a saucepan. After the mixture is brought to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cover. One cup of quinoa cooked in this method usually takes 15 minutes to prepare. When cooking is complete, you will notice that the grains have become translucent, and the white germ has partially detached itself, appearing like a white-spiraled tail. If you desire the quinoa to have a nuttier flavor, you can dry roast it before cooking; to dry roast, place it in a skillet over medium-low heat and stir constantly for five minutes. Recent studies on the cooking of quinoa have compared boiling versus steaming methods to evaluate the impact of cooking on the B vitamin folate. The good news is that folate in quinoa appears to be well-preserved using either cooking method.
Quinoa flour is another form of quinoa that is becoming more widely available in supermarkets. While it is possible to make baked goods and pastas out of 100% quinoa flour, many companies making products from quinoa flour combine this flour with other types (for example tapioca flour or rice flour) or even with oatmeal to produce a lighter texture. If you are making baked products at home, you can simply experiment to determine the approach to quinoa flour that you like best.
How to Enjoy
- Combine cooked chilled quinoa with pinto beans, pumpkin seeds, scallions and coriander. Season to taste and enjoy this south-of-the-border inspired salad.
- Add nuts and fruits to cooked quinoa and serve as breakfast porridge.
- For a twist on your favorite pasta recipe, use noodles made from quinoa.
- Sprouted quinoa can be used in salads and sandwiches just like alfalfa sprouts.
- Add quinoa to your favorite vegetable soups.
- Ground quinoa flour can be added to cookie or muffin recipes.
- Quinoa is great to use in tabouli, serving as a delicious (and wheat-free) substitute for the bulgur wheat with which this Middle Eastern dish is usually made.
For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes.
The outstanding overall nutrient richness of quinoa is reflected in its high-quality proteins, its healthy mix of soluble and insoluble fibers, and its wealth of mineral nutrients, including >zinc, copper, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus. This food is also a good source of folate, and contains many other B vitamins in substantial amounts. Phenols head the list of quinoa phytonutrients. Included here are chlorogenic acid, ferulic acid, hesperidin, isoquercetin, quercetin, kaempferol, neohesperidin, rosmarinic acid, rutin, and vanillic acid.
Introduction to Food Rating System Chart
In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn’t contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. (To view this food’s in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients – not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good – please use the link below the chart.) To read this chart accurately, you’ll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food’s nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling.” Read more background information and details of our rating system.
| Quinoa, cooked
185.00 grams Calories: 222
|manganese||1.17 mg||51||4.1||very good|
In-Depth Nutritional Profile
In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, here is an in-depth nutritional profile for Quinoa. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.
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- Bazile D, Pulvento C, Verniau A, et al. Worldwide Evaluations of Quinoa: Preliminary Results from Post International Year of Quinoa FAO Projects in Nine Countries. Front Plant Sci. 2016; 7: 850. Published online 2016 Jun 21. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.00850.
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- Motta C, Delgado I, Matos AS, et al. Folates in quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa), amaranth (Amaranthus sp.) and buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum): Influence of cooking and malting. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, Volume 64, Part 2, December 2017, pages 181-187.
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11 Best Brand Name Chips for Weight Loss
It’s not that you lack willpower; science confirms chips are ultra addicting (in fact many varieties made our list of the most addictive foods in the world.
According to a The New England Journal of Medicine study of 100,000 men and women, consuming chips was associated with the greatest weight gain over 20 years than any other food.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s totally possible to nosh on chips and still lose weight rapidly—you just need to eat the right chips.
All of our waist-friendly picks for healthy chips come in at under 150 calories per serving and have fewer than 9 grams of fat. For some context, most chips have about 57 percent more fat than that!
Whether you’re a fan of potato chips, tortilla chips, sour cream and onion, or the BBQ variety, we’ve got something that is sure to hit the spot and keep your salty snack cravings at bay. Stock your snack arsenal with a few of these healthy alternatives and the pounds are sure to melt away!
Lay’s Oven-Baked Original Potato Crisps
17 chips: 120 calories, 3.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 160 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 2 g protein
Baked chips don’t rely on oil to crisp up, which means they can get by with far less fat. If you eat just one 1-ounce bag a week, you’ll shed more than two pounds this year by choosing Lay’s Baked! instead of Ruffles Reduced Fat.
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RELATED: Get lean for life with this 14-day flat belly plan.
Popchips Barbeque Potato
20 chips: 130 calories, 4.5 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 200 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 2 g protein
Popchips represent the perfect middle ground between the two extremes of the chip world. They have the crunch and character of a fried chip and the calories and fat of a baked one. What more could you want?
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Garden of Eatin’ Blue Chips, No Salt Added
12 chips: 140 calories, 7 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 0 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (2 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 2 g protein
If you have high blood pressure or just want to keep bloat at bay, these should be your go-to. Why? They’re one of the lowest-sodium chips in the supermarket! The best part is, they don’t taste like it. They’ve got a crisp and thick cut, and a strong, delicious corn flavor.
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Kettle Brand 40% Less Fat Potato Chips, Sea Salt
13 chips: 130 calories, 6 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 160 mg sodium, 19 g carbs (1 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 2 g protein
We love that there are only three ingredients in this chip: potatoes, oil and sea salt. But what really makes these chips appealing is the grease. Unlike other baked chips, which can be a bit dried out, these actually look, feel and taste like the real deal.
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Terra Exotic Harvest Sea Salt Chips
16 chips: 130 calories, 6 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 160 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (3 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 2 g protein
This fun mix of carrots, blue potatoes, and kabocha squash boasts 40 percent less fat than potato chips and enough fiber to take the edge off your hunger. Plus they look pretty on the chip ‘n’ dip platter, too!
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Good Health Kettle Style Avocado Oil Potato Chips With Sea Salt
20 chips: 150 calories, 9 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 75 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (1 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 2 g protein
Chips that can help make you skinny? Yes, please! These kettle crisps are not only lower-cal, but also made with avocado oil—a type of fat that researchers have found accelerates fat-burning.
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Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips, 12 chips
12 chips: 140 calories, 7 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 80 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (2 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 2 g protein
Technically, this is a hybrid chip, containing both stone-ground corn and sweet potatoes, but who really cares about the details? What matters here is that this slimming snack tastes great. We love how the hint of cane sugar in this chip enhances the natural nuttiness of the sweet potato.
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Beanitos Nachos Nation
11 chips: 130 calories, 6 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 170 mg sodium, 14 g carbs (4 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 5 g protein
If Doritos are your dietary kryptonite, think of these as the best way for you to have your cake and eat it, too. They have fewer calories, fewer ingredients and half the fat of Doritos, without sacrificing that nacho cheese taste you crave. Plus, they have a bonus 5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber per serving.
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Oven Baked Ruffles Cheddar & Sour Cream
11 chips: 120 calories, 3.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat), 250 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (1 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 2 g protein
They may be low-cal, but these chips are bursting with flavor. We’re not sure how Frito Lay managed to marry both sour cream and cheese into one chip so harmoniously, but we’re glad they did. You won’t find a cheese- or sour-cream-based chip with fewer calories.
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Pringles Reduced-Fat Original
16 chips: 140 calories, 7 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 130 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 1 g protein
In this rare case, reduced-fat trumps fat-free. Not only do these Pringles have fewer calories than the fat-free variety, but they are also free of the diarrhea-inducing fat substitute, olestra, too. That’s one win-win no one can argue with.
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Tostitos Oven-Baked Scoops! Tortilla Chips
16 chips: 120 calories, 3 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 140 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (2 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 2 g protein
At 120 calories and just three grams of fat, consider this the healthiest salsa scooper in the supermarket. We love that these crunchy crisps are made with only three ingredients: corn, vegetable oil and salt. Any tortilla chip made with more than that doesn’t deserve a place in your shopping cart.
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Chips and dip go with the Super Bowl like Tom Brady and the Patriots (sorry, Eagles fans). But while chips are obviously delicious, they’re generally fried, covered in salt, and have high amounts of saturated fats. Meanwhile, better-for-you chip alternatives often leave a lot to be desired in the flavor department. What’s a girl to do?
When shopping for a legit healthy chip, Jessica Perez, R.D., says you should ensure both the saturated fat and salt content don’t exceed 5 percent of your recommended daily value. “Manufacturers tend to increase sodium content to add to the flavor you lose when you reduce the fat,” Perez says.
Related: Shalane Flanagan Says Her Super Bowl Commercial With Chris Pratt Revealed He’s ‘Definitely Not A Runner’
Learn what to look for on a nutrition label:
It’s also a good idea to look for chips that are baked, not fried, says Deborah Orlick Levy, R.D., Carrington Farms health and nutrition consultant. “Also, look for chips that have very few ingredients, all pronounceable, and ideally with ingredients like flax or chia,” she says. This way, you can sneak in extra fiber, omega-3s, and other essential nutrients along with your dip and guac.
Here are the healthiest chips available right now that are actually delicious—and nutritionist-approved:
Corn has developed a bad rep for cropping up in most processed foods, but Karen Ansel, R.D.N., makes a case for sneaking it into your diet in its purest form. “I’m not a huge chip person but if I am going to have chips, they’re going to be corn chips so I can at least score a serving of whole grains.” She looks for varieties like this one that have decent amounts of fiber and a short ingredient list.
Related: Photographic Proof That Soda Seriously Messes with Your Body
Wickedly Prime Organic Tortilla Chips, Thick & Stone-Ground Yellow Corn, $3.00, Amazon
Get a leg up with legumes. Elizabeth Prendergast, R.D.N., says bean-derived chips are a great alternative to potato chips since they’re lower in saturated fat and come with a healthy dose of fiber and protein. “By adding protein and fiber to your snack choices, it can lead to you feeling more satisfied since it takes longer to digest than the simple carbohydrates found in potato chips,” she says.
Beanitos Hint Of Lime, $3.00, Amazon
Beets’ deep red pigment means they’re packed with antioxidants—a major win. Ansel says beet chips like these are often dehydrated instead of fried, which means they’re made with very little or no oil at all. Bonus points if they’re peppered with disease-fighting spices like turmeric or garlic.
Related: The 8 Best Things to Buy at Trader Joe’s, According to Nutritionists
Trader Joe’s Just Beets Dehydrated Beet Snacks, $3.00, Trader Joe’s stores
You can consider jicama the new, low-carb potato substitute on the block. “It’s kind of sweet in flavor, like a cross between an apple and potato—but some brands add spice blends to make them more savory than sweet,” Perez says. Jicama is also packed with fiber and vitamin C.
Related: Is An Air Fryer Really Better For You Than A Regular Fryer?
Jica Chips Sea Salt (pack of 8), $26.00, Amazon
Mary’s Gone Crackers
Flax seed, the overlooked relatives of chia seeds, are packed with nutrients like omega-3s. And their fiber count can help with constipation. That’s why Orlick-Levy likes to swap flax crackers and chips for traditional corn and potato chips. These ones are also baked and low in sodium—what’s not to like?
Mary’s Gone Crackers Original (pack of 2), $18.00, Amazon
Marissa Miller Marissa Miller has spent a decade editing and reporting on women’s health issues from an intersectional lens with a focus on peer-reviewed nutrition, fitness trends, mental health, skincare, reproductive rights and beyond.
These Are the Healthiest Potato Chips You Can Eat
Who isn’t trying to eat a little healthier these days? Still, however strong your willpower, there are certain indulgences a human being simply can’t resist. A prime example: potato chips, the tastiest things in the world for some of us. These heavenly crisps count as junk food—high in calories, low in nutrients, and dangerously addictive. (It’s the sodium!)
To beat your potato chip cravings without bloating up, just reach for a healthy option. One of the best alternatives we’ve found recently is the Healthy Tropics Camote Chips. They’re crispy, made with all-natural ingredients, and incredibly tasty. Only question is, will they match up to our beloved bags of wavy chips? Below, we put ‘em to the test—a taste test, to be exact.
The Healthy Tropics Camote Chips come in three variations: cheese, sour cream, and barbecue. The cheese option is neither too salty nor too savorless, which results in a perfect balance. The sour cream option is similarly mild, but still manages to give the palate a little zing. The barbecue is the standout of the bunch: it’s smoky and sweet, with just a hint of spice. All three are pleasant complements to the sweetness of the camote chips.
At first bite, you will notice a distinct textural difference between camote chips and the classic potato chips we’re all familiar with. The camote chips are most comparable to thin-cut crips in thickness. However, they’re not as crumbly. They have a bite, which drives you to eat slowly. You will also find they’re a little tougher than the average chip, which makes them perfect for dipping!
Each bag is only 198 calories per 40g serving. Translation: you get 10g of fat (healthy fat, of course!), 28g of sodium, and 26g of carbs. The sodium content is particularly impressive, as plain potato chips usually have between 340 to 370mg of sodium for the same serving size. Plus, if you’re looking for a new vitamin A source (it’s a potent antioxidant!), this stackable will give you a whopping 75% of your daily necessities.
Sweet potatoes—the main ingredient in the Healthy Tropics Camote Chips—boast a ton of health benefits. They also have a lower glycemic index in comparison to its starchy-white cousin, making it perfect for those who want to keep off sugar and stay full for longer.
While we would recommend eating Healthy Tropics Camote Chips in moderation, they’re way better than regular potato chips in both nutritional value and benefits. The flavor and structure isn’t exactly the same. But, it’s still pretty darn tasty. We could plow through a few bags, easy!
Will you be giving the Healthy Tropics Camote Chips a taste, too? Tell us in the comments!
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10 “Healthy Chips” That Are Just as Bad as Lay’s
“Oh my gosh! Take this bag of chips away from me,” I said to my fiancé as I pushed the snack toward his side of the table. “I can’t stop eating them! You’re not allowed to buy these things anymore!” “Why do I have to suffer? Can’t you just control yourself?” he jokingly replied. “You and I both know that’s not humanly possible,” I shot back.
If that sounds like a discussion you’ve had a few times before, you’re not alone—and there’s actually a scientific reason why a bag of chips is so hard to resist. A lot of it has to do with the crunchy sound they make as we chew, according to a review in Flavour Journal. Though it’s totally subconscious, foods that create a loud sound as we chew are associated with freshness—which makes the food seem more appetizing. The study notes that this reaction makes it feel impossible to put down.
As you might have assumed, this isn’t exactly good news for your gut. Not only are chips high in calories and saturated fat, they’re typically low in fiber and protein. (Translation: they lack the ability to make you feel satisfied!) A handful of chips can result in a big empty bag in no time, simply because they never fill you up. For these reasons, one Harvard study found that daily chip consumption was responsible for adding an average of 3.3 pounds of flab to study participants’ frame every four years. If you cut out chips, you would lose more than half a pound of stomach fat every year, even if you changed nothing else about your diet.
But if you love the salty stuff and cutting out the crispy snack isn’t an option, we totally get it—as do food producers. That’s why there are tons of “healthy chip” alternatives in supermarkets, many of which aren’t actually much better than a classic bag of Lay’s. Sure, the ingredients may be of slightly higher quality, but the calorie, salt, and fat content are nearly identical.
To help you pick a better bag, we’ve uncovered some of the worst “healthy chips” in the store. A one-ounce serving of Lay’s (which is about 15 chips) has 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 170 milligrams of sodium, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein. The surprising options below all have near-identical nutritional labels. There are a few good eggs, among the rotten ones, though. After you’ve learned which bags to keep out of your cart, continue reading to the end to discover 10 tasty options that actually live up to their “better-for-you” claims—and save both money and calories by choosing our healthiest snacks under $1!
Kettle Foods Organic Potato Chips Sea Salt
1 oz, 13 chips: 150 calories, 9 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 115 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 2 g protein
Yes, they’re organic and have sea salt, but don’t let those buzz words fool you. These chips have about the same number of calories and fat as classic Lay’s. The only leg up it has over the yellow bag is the slightly—and we mean very slightly—lower sodium content. Salt is salt, so using sea salt doesn’t automatically make something healthier. However, it does have a slightly more intense flavor than the conventional variety so food manufacturers can get away with using a little bit less overall as a result.
Terra BBQ Sweet Potato Chips
1 oz, 15 chips: 150 calories, 9 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 160 mg sodium, 16 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 1 g protein
They’re made with sweet potatoes so they must be better for you than classic beige chips, right? Not so fast. While each Terra chip has 10 calories, 0.6 grams of fat, and 10.7 grams of sodium, each Lay’s chip is only slightly worse with 10.6 calories, 0.7 grams of fat, 11.3 grams of sodium per crisp. You gain an additional two grams of fiber by switching to Terra but you lose a gram of protein, so all in all, it’s a wash.
Lundberg Rice Chips Sea Salt
1 oz, 9 chips: 150 calories, 8 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 90 mg sodium, 18 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 2 g protein
This snack may be organic, vegan, kosher, and gluten-free, thanks to its brown rice base, but that doesn’t mean you can down the entire bag without guilt. A serving of Lundberg Rice Chips will only save you two grams of fat, a gram of saturated fat, and 10 calories, making it on par with its more mainstream competitors.
Simply 7 Salt & Vinegar Quinoa Chips
1 oz: 130 calories, 6 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 430 mg sodium, 19 g carbs, <1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 1 g protein
Don’t let the quinoa and lower calorie count fool you, this is not a superior chip. Not only does it carry 2.5 times the salt as a serving of Lay’s it actually serves up less fiber and protein. A fact many would assume would be the opposite considering it’s primarily made with a nutrient-rich super grain like quinoa.
Dirty Potato Chips Original Recipe Sea Salted
1 oz: 150 calories, 8 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 85 g sodium, 17 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 2 g protein
If you’re watching your salt intake these are a better addition to your diet than Lay’s, however, when it comes to calories and saturated fat content, they aren’t any better so be sure to stick to the recommended serving size if you decide to chow down. Creating your own “snack packs” at home with the help of Ziploc baggies can help—which is just one of our best tools to help you get serious about losing weight.
Food Should Taste Good Original Sweet Potato Chips
1 oz, 14 chips: 160 calories, 9 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 95 mg sodium, 18 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 1 g protein
With its modern minimalist packaging, splattered with keywords like “certified gluten-free”all natural,” it’s easy to see why so many people assume this bag is filled with wholesome crisps. The numbers don’t lie, though. These crisps have just as many calories as Lay’s and only one less gram of fat. While they use to be less caloric (and Eat This-approved), a new recipe has recently earned them on our do not eat list.
Earth Balance Kettle Chips Vegan Sour Cream & Onion
1 oz about 13 chips: 150 calories, 11 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 80 mg sodium, 15 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 2 g protein
It would take a 150-pound person 13 minutes to work off a serving of these Earth Balance chips and 14 minutes to burn off the Lay’s. ‘Nuff said.
Lay’s Simply Sea Salted Thick Cut Potato Chips
1 oz, 17 chips: 150 calories, 10 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 150 mg sodium, 15 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 2 g protein
The only difference between Lay’s original chips and those from its “Simply” line? The Simply chips are made with expeller pressed sunflower oil while the traditional ones are coated in a blend of sunflower, corn, and/or canola oil. “Expeller-pressed” means no chemicals were used to remove the oil from its source, so it is a superior oil no doubt, however, it’s the only thing that makes these chips any better than its conventional cousin.
Walmart Great Value Kettle Cooked Original Potato Chips
1 oz, 150 calories, 9 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 90 mg sodium, 17 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 2 g protein
It’s a common misconception that kettle cooked equals a healthier chip. While basic bagged chips are fried using a conveyer-belt-like continuous process, kettle cooked chips are dipped into oil in batches. After one batch is dunked and removed, a second batch goes in. The bottom line: There aren’t any significant health benefits of using one cooking method over the other. Eat these chips if you’re looking for something lower in salt, but aside from that, they’re really no better than Lay’s classic snack.
Earth Balance Kettle Chips Vegan Cheddar
1 oz, 13 chips: 150 calories, 11 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 180 mg sodium 15 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 1 g protein
These actually carry more fat than a serving of Lay’s. Leave them behind. There are far better options that deserve a place in your shopping cart.
And now, the bags that are actually worth buying…
Quest Protein Sea Salt Chips
1.1 oz, 120 calories, 1.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 190 mg sodium, 6 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 21 g protein
Made from dried potatoes, a blend of milk protein and whey protein isolate and sea salt, this crunchy snack is sure to put your sad bag of Lay’s to shame. In fact, after a protein shake, these healthy chips may just be the next best thing to down after a workout. Before you laugh us off, you should know we have two big reasons to back up our claim: The salt can help replace electrolytes lost after a sweaty workout and one bag serves up as much muscle-repairing protein as a 2.5-ounce chicken breast.
Buy It Now!
Lesser Evil Super 4 Roasted Red Pepper
1 oz: 110 calories, 3 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 200 mg sodium, 18 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 1 sugar, 3 g protein
Made from a combination of white beans, quinoa, lentils and chia seeds, this clean and crunchy snack chosen in lieu of Lay’s will save you 50 calories and seven grams of artery-clogging fat. The tubular crunchy bites have a flavor reminiscent of BBQ chips that is downright addictive. Better yet, you can eat 46 pieces before you hit that 110-calorie mark. To put things into perspective, you can only gobble down 10 Lay’s before consuming in the same number of calories.
Buy It Now!
Popchips Potato Chips, Sea Salt
1 oz: 120 calories, 4 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 190 mg sodium, 19 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 1 g protein
Popchips’ unique method of heating their potatoes in a pressurized chamber, gives the circular chips their trademark shape. They’re coated with oleic oils, healthy monounsaturated fats which can help reduce appetite, promote weight loss, and bolster memory. Talk about a triple threat!
Buy It Now!
Rhythm Superfoods Beet Chips, Naked
1 oz: 100 calories, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 90 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 5 g fiber, 13 g sugar, 3 g protein
A chip made solely from dehydrated beets may not sound like it would be appetizing, but we assure you, these bad boys are downright delicious. They have the same crunchy texture as potato chips and actually serve up the satiating fiber necessary (20% of the day’s intake!) for them to be part of a filling snack.
Buy It Now!
Lay’s Oven Baked Crisps, Original
1 oz: 120 calories, 2 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 135 mg sodium, 23 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 2 g protein
In our report, 35 Of Your Favorite Chips—Ranked, Lay’s Oven Baked Potato Crisps stole the top spot. They’re made with some unnecessary sugar, but other than that, they’re low in calories and sodium and have a simple list of ingredients. Since they’re baked, not fried, they also have 65% less fat than regular potato chips
Buy It Now!
Garden of Eatin’ Blue Chips, Tortilla Chips
1 oz: 120 calories, 3 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 120 mg sodium, 20 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 3 g protein
With just 120 calories and three grams of fat per serving, these indigo chips make the perfect companion for your favorite salsa or Tex-Mex inspired recipe.
Buy It Now!
Kettle Brand Baked Olive Oil Potato Chips
1 oz: 120 calories, 3 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 135 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 2 g protein
Unlike other baked chips, which can be a bit dried out, these actually look, feel, and taste like the real deal. It’s all thanks to the olive oil, a type of healthy fat that may increase blood levels of serotonin, a hormone associated with satiety.
Buy It Now!
Tostitos Oven Baked Scoops
1 oz: 120 calories, 3 g fat, 0.5 g fat, 140 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 2 g protein
At 120 calories and just three grams of fat, consider this one of the healthiest salsa scoopers in the supermarket. This baked version carries 50 percent less fat than its fried counterpart, with no loss of flavor. We also love that these crisps are made with only three ingredients: corn, vegetable oil, and salt. Any tortilla chip made with more than that doesn’t deserve a place in your shopping cart.
Buy It Now!
Enjoy Life Sea Salt Plentils
1 oz: 130 calories, 6 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 270 mg sodium, 15 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 3 g protein
This gluten-free chip alternative is primarily made from potato starch, salt, turmeric, and lentil powder—an ingredient not typically used to make packaged snacks. The result is a crispy, airy snack with the crunchy texture and salty flavor you crave in a chip.
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Guiltless Gourmet Unsalted Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips
1 oz: 120 calories, 2 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 26 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 3 g protein
If you have high blood pressure, make this your go-to chip. With just 26 milligrams of sodium per serving, these healthy chips won’t flood your system with salt.
Buy It Now!
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Welcome to Drunk on Chips. I’m a potato lover whose potato-loving father always kept our snack cabinet stocked with a carefully curated collection of chips. Here, I give you an honest review of a specific bag.
I never thought I’d say this, but good God, I’ve been eating too many chips lately. As I type this, I’m staring at two empty bags just to the left of my keyboard—one five ounce bag I took down just minutes ago, and one I finished last week but have been saving. I am legitimately concerned about my health. I can’t stop. And I know I won’t stop.
That’s why the second bag, the one I’ve been saving, is Good Health Avocado Oil Kettle Style Potato Chips, which are cooked in 100 percent avocado oil. The front of the bag tells me to “Enjoy Being Good.”
I like being good. So when these sea salt chips came across my desk—along with barbecue, jalapeño, and lime ranch flavors—I thought maybe I’d found a healthy solution to the addiction that both plagues my body and fills my heart with love.
I was wrong on the solution front. But these chips are still pretty damn good.
The lime ranch flavor was…interesting. They had a citrusy sourness to them that’s intriguing, but I’ll give ’em a five-ounce cap. I don’t think I’d take down a whole family size of these. However, the sea salt, jalapeño, and barbecue flavors were spot on.
They don’t taste any different than other kettle-cooked potato chips I’ve had. That’s a good thing. So what, exactly, is healthy about them? I flipped the bag over and compared it to another one I had nearby.
Shameless Plug: Esquire’s May issue is on newsstands now. Ben Boskovich
A quick scan and you’ll realize there is only one big difference in the nutrition facts: These Good Health chips have far less sodium than any other chip in my cabinet—around three times less in this particular instance—but I’m fairly certain the only way you’ll experience the benefits is by sticking to the serving size, which no American chip eater has done, ever. Lay’s wasn’t messing around when it said, “Bet you can’t have just one.” No one has ever accomplished that feat, and if they have, they are lying.
Bottom line: Good Health is making a damn good chip, but if you’re eating enough chips to make yourself think, “I probably should try to find a healthier way to get my fix,” it’s probably a lost cause anyway.
Some Tasting Notes
Size: Below average. Not a ton of big boys in here but that’s okay, keep reading.
Crunch: Solid! I liken them to Zapp’s crunch, and that makes sense, because Good Health Natural Products is a subsidiary of Utz Quality Foods, which also makes Zapp’s.
Seasoning: The sea salt chips are impressive because there’s nothing to them. Three ingredients, that’s it. Potatoes, avocado oil, and sea salt. There’s no lack of flavor here, but you can’t taste avocado—the avocado oil provides a nice smoothness.
Aftertaste: They pack a crunch, and many of these chips are curled up, so be careful with the roof of your mouth. The lack of additives, though, leaves no destruction. Good health!
Pairing One: IDK, some kind of greek yogurt dip? What is a healthy dip? Usually I just say something about a hot dog here.
Pairing Two: A nice, long run. You know what is a dietary solution? Running off the 750 calories you just ate. (That’s a whole five-ounce bag’s worth of cals, there.)
Pairing Three: A woke-ass party. The only thing better than your story about unfollowing Kanye is bringing a healthy snack everyone can be fooled into feeling good about.
More Chips Ben Boskovich Ben Boskovich is the Deputy Editor of Esquire, where he also writes about style.
Just Wondering: Are Tortilla Chips Better for You Than Potato Chips?
Alicia Romano, National Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and registered dietitian at Tufts Medical Center, evaluates how these chips stack up against each other.
By Tessa Yannone· 5/30/2019, 2:05 p.m.
Photos via Getty Images/Dencake/Photoraidz
When you’re in dire need of a crunchy, salty, and delicious snack what do you reach for? If your go-to is a bag of chips, you’re not alone. You’re also not alone in thinking that reaching for tortilla chips might be a slightly healthier alternative than potato chips. But does the evidence stack up? Alicia Romano, National Media Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and registered dietitian at Tufts Medical Center, says no.
“There really is not a tremendous difference nutritionally between standard potato chips and tortilla chips,” she explains. “Generally speaking, a one ounce serving contains about 130-150 calories, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1-2 grams of fiber, and 6-10 grams of fat. The biggest difference is the potato versus corn base.” Which just comes down to personal preference really.
She adds that blue corn tortilla chips are slightly healthier than both potato and regular tortilla chips because they contain antioxidants from the blue corn, but the frying process may damage some of these benefits. Same with chips that have added ingredients like flax and chia seeds—while great, they are still fried snacks and should be enjoyed sparingly.
Even deeper than just tortilla versus potato though is this underlying issue that one food is “better” or “healthier” than the other. And with all the “healthy” alternatives in the grocery store, it can become even more convoluted just deciding on what snack to choose. Romano challenges this notion by arguing that everyone has their own definition of health, even going so far as to say that the word “healthy” is a loaded term. Let that one sink in for a second.
“In general, any ‘health halo’ placed on a food does not mean that it is helping your health,” she says. “Additionally, it is not teaching us about the eating experience—about mindfulness and eating appropriate portion sizes. No one should be sitting down and eating a whole bag, or pint, of anything.”
When it comes to looking for a crunchy snack she says it’s important to be mindful and intuitive of your food choices. “We are in a phase of diet culture where we are always looking for an alternative to the real thing, instead of just enjoying the real thing. This often leads to deprivation, feelings of guilt around food, and bingeing on the food we want in the first place.”
So what’s a hangry gal supposed to do when she’s hemming and hawing at the grocery store? Romano says to consider both options, or any option, and enjoy them in moderation. But if you’re looking for a snack with a crunch to replace chips for more everyday eating she says “to stick to what your craving from a taste profile and opt for something that gives you a bit more nutritional bang.” For example, some of Romano’s favorites include:
- Crunchy baked chickpeas (spice as you like)
- 1 oz. of lightly salted or spiced nuts and seeds
- Edamame dusted with sea salt and sesame
- Homemade trail mix (mixture of nuts and unsweetened dried fruit)
- Dehydrated fruit and vegetables
- Sliced fruit like apples or pears with natural nut butter
- Air popped popcorn
- Crunchy veggie sticks like carrots, celery, red peppers, snap peas, or cucumbers dipped in hummus or Greek yogurt dip
- Homemade kale chips sprinkled with your favorite spices or seasoning
The take home point is that all foods fit in a balanced eating plan, Romano says. Whether you’re a tortilla chips and salsa type of person or you prefer crunching on a salty bag of potato chips, you can let these chips fall where they may, because it really makes no difference in the grand scheme of things.
What is a low-fiber diet?
A low-fiber diet means you eat foods that do not have a lot of fiber.
If you have certain medical problems, you may be asked to reduce the amount of fiber in your diet to rest your bowels (or intestines). A low-fiber diet reduces the amount of undigested food moving through your bowels, so that your body makes a smaller amount of stool. A low-fiber diet may be suggested after some types of surgery or if you have diarrhea, cramping, or trouble digesting food.
There are 2 kinds of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve in the stomach and can have rough hard bits that irritate the intestines as it passes through. Soluble fiber attracts water into the intestines and becomes a gel. Foods with a little soluble fiber can often be eaten in small amounts (depending on why you’re on a low-fiber diet) because the soft fiber gel doesn’t irritate the intestines the same way.
What are low-fiber foods?
Here is a list of low-fiber foods and lists of higher-fiber foods you should avoid. Remember to always choose foods that you would normally eat. Do not try any foods that caused you discomfort or allergic reactions in the past.
If you are on a “low-residue diet,” your food choices are even more restricted than those listed below.
Talk with your cancer care team or dietitian if you have questions about certain foods or amounts.
Meat, fish, poultry, and protein
- Tender cuts of meat
- Ground meat
- Fish and shellfish
- Smooth peanut butter
Bake, broil, or poach meats, and use mild seasonings. Try preparing meats as stews, roasts, meatloaves, casseroles, sandwiches, and soups using ingredients on the approved lists.
Scramble, poach, or boil eggs; or make omelets, soufflés, custard, puddings, and casseroles, using ingredients noted below. You might want to ask your doctor, nurse, or dietitian about other foods may be OK for you to eat, and find out when you can go back to your normal diet.
- All beans, nuts, peas, lentils, and legumes
- Processed meats, hot dogs, sausage, and cold cuts
- Tough meats with gristle
Dairy: Milk and cheese
Only in small to medium amounts and only if they don’t cause problems for you
- Milk, chocolate milk, buttermilk, and milk drinks
- Yogurt without seeds or granola
- Sour cream
- Cottage cheese
- Custard or pudding
- Ice cream or frozen desserts (without nuts)
- Cream sauces, soups, and casseroles
You can use these items in desserts, snacks, or breads.
Bread, cereals, and grains
- White breads, waffles, French toast, plain white rolls, or white bread toast
- Plain pasta or noodles
- White rice
- Crackers, zwieback, melba, and matzoh (no cracked wheat or whole grains)
- Cereals without whole grains, added fiber, seeds, raisins, or other dried fruit
Use white flour for baking and making sauces. Grains, such as white rice, Cream of Wheat, or grits, should be well-cooked.
Include the above grains in casseroles, dumplings, soufflés, cheese strata, kugels, and pudding.
Avoid any food that contains
- Brown or wild rice
- Whole grains, cracked grains, or whole wheat products
- Kasha (buckwheat)
- Corn bread or corn meal
- Graham crackers
- Wheat germ
- Dried fruit
Vegetables and potatoes
- Tender, well-cooked fresh or canned vegetables without seeds, stems, or skins
- Cooked sweet or white potatoes without skins
- Strained vegetable juices without pulp or spices
You can also eat these with cream sauces, or in soups, soufflés, kugels, and casseroles.
- All raw or steamed vegetables
- All types of beans
- Potatoes with skin
- Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and greens
Fruits and desserts
- Soft canned or cooked fruit without seeds or skins (small amounts)
- Small amounts of well-ripened banana
- Strained or clear juices
- Small amounts of soft cantaloupe or honeydew melon
- Cookies and other desserts without whole grains, dried fruit, berries, nuts, or coconut
- Sherbet and popsicles
Serving suggestions include gelatins, milk shakes, frozen desserts, puddings, tapioca, cakes, and sauces.
- All raw or dried fruits
- Prune juice, prunes, and raisins
- Mayonnaise and mild salad dressings
- Margarine, butter, cream, and oils in small amounts
- Plain gravies
- Plain bouillon and broth
- Ketchup and mild mustard
- Spices, cooked herbs, and salt
- Sugar, honey, and syrup
- Clear jellies
- Hard candy and marshmallows
- Plain chocolate
- Pickles, olives, relish, and horseradish
- Potato chips
Keep in mind that low-fiber foods cause fewer bowel movements and smaller stools. You may need to drink extra fluids to help prevent constipation while you are on a low-fiber diet. Drink plenty of water unless your doctor tells you otherwise, and use juices and milk as noted above.
Potatoes 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Effects
Eating potatoes is generally healthy and safe.
However, in some cases, people need to limit their consumption — or avoid them altogether.
Food allergies are a common condition, characterized by a harmful immune reaction to proteins in certain foods.
Potato allergy is relatively rare, but some people may be allergic to patatin, one of the main proteins in potatoes (32, 33).
Those who are allergic to latex may be sensitive to patatin as well due to a phenomenon known as allergic cross-reactivity (34).
Plants of the nightshade family, such as potatoes, contain a class of toxic phytonutrients known as glycoalkaloids.
The two main glycoalkaloids in potatoes are solanine and chaconine.
Glycoalkaloid poisoning after eating potatoes has been reported in both people and animals (35, 36).
However, reports of toxicity are rare and the condition may go undiagnosed in many cases.
In low doses, glycoalkaloids usually cause mild symptoms, such as headache, stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting (35).
In more serious cases, the symptoms include neurological disorders, rapid breathing, fast heartbeat, low blood pressure, fever, and even death (36, 37).
In mice, long-term intake of glycoalkaloids may increase the risk of cancer in the brain, lungs, breasts, and thyroid (38).
Other animal studies indicate that the low levels of glycoalkaloids likely found in the human diet may exacerbate inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) (39).
Normally, potatoes contain only trace amounts of glycoalkaloids. A 154-pound (70-kg) individual would have to eat over 13 cups (2 kg) of potatoes (with the skin) in one day to get a lethal dose (37).
That said, lower amounts may still cause adverse symptoms.
The levels of glycoalkaloids are higher in the peel and sprouts than other parts of the potato. It’s best to avoid eating potato sprouts (37, 40).
Potatoes rich in glycoalkaloids have a bitter taste and cause a burning sensation in your mouth, an effect that may be a warning sign of potential toxicity (41, 42).
Potato varieties containing high amounts of glycoalkaloids — over 25 mg per cup (200 mg per kg) — cannot be marketed commercially, and some varieties have been banned (37, 43, 44).
Acrylamides are contaminants formed in carb-rich foods when they’re cooked at very high temperatures, such as during frying, baking, and roasting (45).
They are found in fried, baked, or roasted potatoes, but not fresh, boiled, or steamed ones (46).
The amount of acrylamides increases with higher frying temperatures (47).
Compared to other foods, french fries and potato chips are very high in acrylamides (48).
These compounds are used as industrial chemicals, and acrylamide toxicity has been reported in people exposed to them in the workplace (49, 50, 51).
Although the amount of acrylamides in foods is generally low, long-term exposure may be harmful.
Animal studies indicate that acrylamides may increase cancer risk and harm the brain and nervous system (52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57).
In humans, acrylamides have been classified as a possible risk factor for cancer (45).
Numerous observational studies have investigated the effect of eating acrylamide-rich foods on cancer risk, and most did not detect any significant adverse effects (58, 59, 60, 61).
High intake of acrylamides may have adverse health effects over time, but the extent of these effects is unclear, and further studies are required.
For optimal health, it seems sensible to limit your consumption of french fries and potato chips.
French Fries and Potato Chips
Potatoes have been blamed for contributing to obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
The main reason for this is that potatoes are widely consumed as french fries and potato chips — high-fat foods that harbor a number of unhealthy compounds. French fries are also frequently associated with fast food.
Observational studies link the consumption of fried potatoes and potato chips to weight gain (68, 69).
Fried potatoes and potato chips may also contain acrylamides, glycoalkaloids, and high amounts of salt, which all may be harmful over time (45, 70, 71).
For this reason, high consumption of fried potatoes — especially french fries and chips — should be avoided.
SUMMARY Potatoes may contain a number of unhealthy compounds — particularly when fried. Limit your consumption of french fries and chips, and never eat potato sprouts.
How can potatoes benefit my health?
Share on PinterestPotatoes can be healthful if prepared in the right way.
A high intake of fruits and vegetables can benefit health and reduce the risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions.
Potatoes contain important nutrients, even when cooked, that can benefit human health in various ways.
Here we look at 10 ways in which the potato might contribute to a healthful lifestyle, including preventing osteoporosis, maintaining heart health, and reducing the risk of infection.
1) Bone health
The iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, and zinc in potatoes all help the body to build and maintain bone structure and strength.
Iron and zinc play crucial roles in the production and maturation of collagen.
Phosphorus and calcium are both important in bone structure, but it is essential to balance the two minerals for proper bone mineralization. Too much phosphorus and too little calcium result in bone loss and contribute to osteoporosis.
2) Blood pressure
A low sodium intake is essential for maintaining a healthy blood pressure, but increasing potassium intake may be just as important. Potassium encourages vasodilation, or the widening of the blood vessels.
According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), fewer than 2 percent of American adults meet the daily 4,700-milligram recommendation.
Potassium, calcium, and magnesium are all present in the potato. These have been found to decrease blood pressure naturally.
3) Heart health
The potato’s fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6 content, coupled with its lack of cholesterol, all support heart health.
Potatoes contain significant amounts of fiber. Fiber helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood, thereby decreasing the risk of heart disease.
Research based on the NHANES has linked a higher intake of potassium and a lower intake of sodium to a reduced risk of all-cause mortality and heart disease.
Choline is an important and versatile nutrient that is present in potatoes. It helps with muscle movement, mood, learning, and memory.
It also assists in:
- maintaining the structure of cellular membranes
- transmitting nerve impulses
- the absorption of fat
- early brain development
One large potato contains 57 mg of choline. Adult males need 550 mg, and females 425 mg a day.
Potatoes contain folate. Folate plays a role in DNA synthesis and repair, and so it prevents many types of cancer cells from forming due to mutations in the DNA.
Fiber intake from fruits and vegetables like potatoes are associated with a lowered risk of colorectal cancer.
Vitamin C and quercetin also function as antioxidants, protecting cells against damage from free radicals.
6) Digestion and regularity
The fiber content in potatoes helps prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthy digestive tract.
7) Weight management and satiety
Dietary fibers are commonly recognized as important factors in weight management and weight loss.
They act as “bulking agents” in the digestive system. They increase satiety and reduce appetite, so a person feels fuller for longer and is less likely to consume more calories.
Potatoes are a great source of vitamin B6. This plays a vital role in energy metabolism, by breaking down carbohydrates and proteins into glucose and amino acids. These smaller compounds are more easily utilized for energy within the body.
Collagen is the skin’s support system. Vitamin C works as an antioxidant to help prevent damage caused by the sun, pollution, and smoke. Vitamin C also helps collagen smooth wrinkles and improve overall skin texture.
Research has found that vitamin C may help reduce the severity and duration of a cold. Potatoes are a good source of vitamin C.