When you wander down the grocery store’s snack aisle and peek at the popular kinds of chips that line the shelves, you might consider picking up a classic choice like regular potato chips or prefer versions boasting bursts of different flavors, like Cheetos, Doritos, and Takis. Though generally considered a less-than-nutritious treat, some chips are healthier than others, and the unhealthiest chips of all can be especially difficult to resist. If you grab too many bags and nibble on these treats a little too often, you might end up dealing with the ugly side effects of eating chips. That’s why you need to know more about what you’re consuming when you opt for this potentially problematic snack.
“If chips are something you want to consume, you should be mindful of portion sizes, how much fat and sodium the serving size contributes, and any other unwanted added ingredients the chips may contain,” Kiran Campbell, RD, tells Eat This, Not That! “Most brands of chips on the market do contain fat and a decent amount of sodium and calories, which may make them the unhealthiest component of your meal. For this reason, you should always look at the nutritional content located on the nutrition facts label,” advises Campbell.
When you do, be sure to “avoid any brands or flavors that are high in sodium, saturated, or trans fats,” adds Campbell. “You may also want to avoid chips with added dyes which can be used for coloring.”
If you love chili as much as you love cheese and corn chips, Fritos Chili Cheese Flavored Corn Chips may seem like a savory taste bud-pleasing dream. Unfortunately, no matter how much you adore this offering from the popular brand, it’s not something that you should be eating every day.
“Per serving size of 31 chips, this provides an outrageous 10 milligrams of total fat with 1.5 milligrams of saturated fat,” Campbell says to explain why these Fritos are among the unhealthiest chips on store shelves. Although that’s enough of a reason to only enjoy these occasionally (if ever) she points out that “the sodium amount of 210 milligrams per serving is also something that may lead to water retention for some consumers with certain health issues.”
If you haven’t heard of Cheetos Minis Flamin Hot Bites, that’s because they “are newer on the market,” according to Campbell, who points out that they are “also an unhealthy choice.”
“A serving size of 63 tiny Cheeto balls gives 10 grams of total fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat, and 260 milligrams sodium,” she explains.
“The ingredients list also states that the Flamin’ Hot seasoning contains artificial coloring, including Red 40 Lake and multiple yellow dyes,” Campbell says while bringing up another issue with this particular variety of Cheetos. Although that may not seem like much of a problem, Red 40 has been linked to a range of side effects including allergic reactions, asthma, skin irritation, migraines, and hyperactivity, as well as changes in mood such as feeling depressed or irritable, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
On top of that, MSG (or monosodium glutamate) is another ingredient found in Cheetos Minis Flamin Hot Bites, which Campbell says “some consumers may be sensitive to.”
When it comes to Chester Flamin Hot Fries, they use “a special blend of real cheese seasoning to give each bite the perfect pop and zing,” says Campbell. Granted, that particular “pop” and “zing” come with an unhealthy twist.
“A serving of 33 pieces contains 8 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, and 280 milligrams of sodium which is a nutrient that most of us do not need more of,” Campbell points out. “[Furthermore,] these also contain red and yellow artificial dyes and MSG,” which we’ve already noted are ingredients you might prefer to avoid.