A Closer Look at the Nutrition of Vegetable Chips

How veggie chips differ from potato chips.

ByABC News
April 6, 2016, 7:22 AM

— -- Walk through any office around 3 p.m. and you’ll find someone munching away on vegetable chips instead of potato chips in an attempt to satisfy hunger while eating healthily.

Industry reports show vegetable snacks growing at a rate of 22 percent yearly while other snacks languish at a 2 percent growth rate. But how do vegetable chips differ from traditional potato chips? Are they a better snacking choice, as many believe?

I ask nutritionist Maya Feller what’s in these chips that make them a source of vegetables? As she reads the ingredients of the Sensible Portion Veggie Straws, her answer is a surprise.

"So in here we’ve got potato flour, potato starch, tomato paste," Feller said.

We look at veggie chips from the brands PopChips, Daily Crave, Sensible Portions, and Better Chip. Pop Chips has 3 grams of fat per serving but the others are in the 6-7 gram range. None have significant vitamins or minerals listed, except Better Chip, which has 60 percent of your Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin K, but I’ll get to that later.

While images on the packaging shows whole vegetables like tomatoes and leafy greens, these chips tend to look a bit washed out with tints of green and red.

Maya says the coloring is often the result of vegetable powders.

“The average consumer is going to think they’re having broccoli, spinach, non-starchy vegetables when in fact they’re having a starchy vegetable, potato and potato starch," she said. "While many do have other vegetable ingredients, they are not whole.”

Maya reads off the ingredients from one popular veggie chip package, “Beet powder, spinach powder, pumpkin powder, pea fiber, tomato powder, red bell pepper powder."

Better Chip Kale and Spinach has marketing materials that read, “Inside this brilliantly green chip lives both spinach and kale. Using strictly fresh greens, we combine the two powerhouses inside one double thick corn masa chip.”

But taking a closer look at the ingredients, Maya says: "Well, you’ll be surprised because when you look at the nutrition facts label it’s actually quite similar to Tostitos.”

But which one is more fattening? Maya points me to the nutrition labels where I find each have 7 grams of fat per serving.

But the people at Better Chip emphasize there is real kale in there. A look at the nutritional info does show 60 percent of your RDA of vitamin K can be found in the chips, but no significant amount of other nutrients.

In a statement to ABC News, the Better Chip company said: "We offer a simple product, made with non-GMO, farm fresh ingredients and therefore the composition of our chips are always as close to 'whole ingredient' as we can get."

And they say 30 percent of the chip is kale and spinach: that's where the 60 percent of your RDA vitamin K comes from.