Think Those Baked Chips Are Healthier? Think Again

With increasing awareness of their calorie-laden diets, many Americans are opting to swap their favorite snacks for supposedly more nutritious alternatives — and food manufacturers are responding to the demand. Potato chips are a perfect example. The past few years has seen the nation’s best-loved snack brands launch “healthy” versions of potato chips, which are baked rather than fried. Baked potato chips from brands such as Lay’s, Ruffles, and even Cheeto’s are made from dried potato starch and formed into a potato chip shape, which are then baked in large batches, rather than fried in oil. Snack companies say this process makes the chips healthier, with up to 65% less fat than traditional versions. Now experts are warning that opting for baked chips is not really a healthier choice. That’s because comparing the nutritional information for regular potato chips verses baked potato chips revealed that in a typical single-serve bag, there’s little difference. Regular potato chips have 149 calories and 10 grams of fat in total, with 1 gram of saturated fat. By contrast, baked potato chips have 131 calories, 5 grams of total fat, and 0.7 grams of saturated fat. What’s more, baked versions have double the sugar of regular ones. To add insult to injury, both varieties pack a tenth of the recommended daily limit of sodium. Foods lower in fat can have less flavor, so more starches and sugars are tossed into baked chips for improved taste and texture.