What’s Up With Sun Chips?

6 Aug

What’s Up With Sun Chips?

People trying to lose weight know that chips probably shouldn’t be a big component of their diet. But what’s the deal with Sun Chips? If you have to have a chip, aren’t Sun Chips the best bet?

I – along with most registered dietitians – am confused as to how Sun Chips obtained their “health halo”. Sure, they have 30% less fat than regular potato chips, but that alone does not a health food make!

Sun Chips have the same basic recipe as all chips: starch fried in fat. Granted, Sun Chips went to the effort to include whole wheat and whole oat flour as the starch they’re frying (along with corn).

When it comes to fiber, Sun Chips traditionally had 2 grams of fiber for the 18 grams of whole grain they advertise (per 1 oz serving – you try stopping at 1 oz, about 16 chips). You can see the 2 grams of fiber reviewed in a 2009 blog review by another dietitian.

Now, in 2010, I noticed that Sun Chips are mysteriously touting 3 grams of fiber, for that same 18 grams of whole grain and 1 oz serving. Understanding how this happened probably requires an advanced degree in Food Manufacturer Sorcery – but more likely, it has to do with decreasing white flour and increasing whole grain flours (but still frying it all up in sunflower oil).

While Sun Chips aren’t the worst of the worst when it comes to nutritional profile for chips (Frito Lay’s Fritos are) – keep in mind that Sun Chips are a SOMETIMES food. An occasional one-ounce serving of Sun Chips with 140 calories, 6 grams of fat and 3 grams of fiber isn’t going to kill you. But don’t think they’re going to be the basis of a healthy whole-grain based diet.

You should be looking for minimally processed, naturally occurring whole grains to fill the base of your diet. For a list of whole grain ideas, check out this previous post with its list of whole grains and not whole grains.

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