Food Network Kitchens: Are baked chips healthier than fried chips?

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Q: I love potato chips, but I don't like all the fat. Are baked chips any healthier?

A: A health halo has been placed on baked chips while fried chips have been getting a bad rap. But are you really making a healthy choice when you toss a bag of baked chips into your shopping cart? Let's take a closer look.

Yes

One ounce (about 15 chips) of baked potato chips has fewer calories (153 vs. 131), less fat (10 grams vs. 5 grams) and less saturated fat (3 grams vs. 1 gram) than traditional potato chips. If you're looking at the calories and fat alone, then you would assume it was the healthier choice.

No

There are other factors to consider when you look at the healthfulness of a particular food. Baked potato chips are actually much lower in vitamin C -- they contain about 4 percent of your recommended daily dose per ounce as opposed to traditional potato chips with 10 percent.

Baked chips are also higher in sodium, providing 257 milligrams per ounce (11 percent of your daily recommended amount) compared with 147 milligrams per ounce (6 percent of your daily recommended amount) in traditional chips. The added sodium accounts for the loss in flavor since the chips aren't being fried.

Baked chips are also one of the highest sources of acrylamides. This suspected cancer-causing chemical forms when high-carb foods (like potatoes) are heated to high temperatures. The Food and Drug Administration found that baked potato chips contain about three times more acrylamides than traditional fried chips.

Portion control is key. Mindlessly munching on a huge bag of baked or fried chips can mean loads of extra calories and fat.

The verdict

Choosing baked varieties may save you calories and fat, but you'll still be chomping on more sodium and acrylamides. As an occasional treat, baked chips can be part of a healthy diet, but if they are making more than a guest appearance, you may want to reconsider.

Q: I've heard that omega-3 fats are good for me. What's the story?

A: Here's a refresher on why omega-3s do the body good.

There are three main types of omega-3 fats, typically referred to by their abbreviated names DHA, EPA and ALA. The DHA and EPA types are plentiful in fish and help fight inflammation. They also contribute to heart health, brain function and immunity. ALA is found mostly in plant-based foods. The body converts ALA to a small amount of DHA and EPA. To really reap the benefits of omega-3, you want to make sure to get most of them from EPA and DHA.

Experts recommend getting about 1,000 milligrams of omega-3s per day, mostly from DHA and EPA.

Salmon

Salmon is one of the best fish choices for healthful fats. A 4-ounce (raw) portion will serve up more than 1,600 milligrams of DHA and EPA.

Flax

The tiny seeds pack a flavorful punch and 1 tablespoon has over 2,300 milligrams of ALA omega-3. Drizzle flax oil over salads or add a few drops to a soup or smoothie.

Tuna

The meaty texture and mild flavor of fresh tuna is hard to beat. Plus, a 3-ounce (raw) portion has 1,100 milligrams of omega-3.

Walnuts

One-fourth cup of walnuts has 2,600 milligrams of ALA. Snack on raw or dry-roasted walnuts solo or add some to salads, pesto sauce, zucchini bread or muffin recipes.

Eggs

Chickens are often fed omega-3-rich foods that boost the content in the eggs they produce. Depending on the brand, an egg can vary anywhere from 40 to 250 milligrams of DHA and EPA. Whatever eggs you choose, just don't skip the yolk -- that's where all those healthy fats are hiding.

Chia

A tablespoon of chia seeds has nearly 2,400 milligrams of ALA. Use in similar fashion as flax.

(Food Network Kitchens column provided by Scripps Howard News Service.)

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