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7 Chips With the Lowest-Quality Ingredients

Skip over these snacks and opt for some healthier choices if you're able.
FACT CHECKED BY Samantha Boesch

Chips are a favorite snack item and meal addition, and with so many flavors and textures, there is truly a chip for everyone. All foods can be part of a healthy, well-rounded diet when consumed in appropriate portions, but there are some chips you just may be better off skipping.

While calories for a serving of chips are usually pretty similar across the board, not all of these crunchy delights are created equally. The following chips are considered low quality because they contain ingredients like corn oil, monosodium glutamate, food dyes and colorings, and other ingredients that may have a negative impact on your health.

Here are 7 chips with the lowest quality ingredients. Then for more helpful eating tips check out 8 Granola Bars Made With the Highest Quality Ingredients.


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With numerous flavors, including the classics like Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch, one thing is true for this line of chips—they don't have many redeeming nutritional qualities. Made with various artificial colors, low-quality vegetable oil, and monosodium glutamate (MSG), Doritos make the list of chips to avoid.

While there are health concerns with consuming artificial colors and vegetable oil (more on that later), one of the more worrisome ingredients here is the MSG. Although "generally regarded as safe" by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some people may have sensitivities to this ingredient that may cause symptoms like headache, nausea, and fluttering heartbeat.

Cheetos Crunchy Flamin' Hot

cheetos crunchy flamin' hot
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As is true for many chip options with "flaming" in the name, this spicy variety of Cheetos contains artificial colors Red 40 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Yellow 6, and Yellow 5. Of these, Red 40, Yellow 6, and Yellow 5 are especially concerning because they contain benzidine, a potential cancer-causing agent. While this contaminant in one serving of chips is considered to be low enough to meet health standards, multiple servings of these chips and other food dye-containing foods on a regular basis may pose more of a health concern.

Takis Fuego Rolled Tortilla Chips

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You have likely seen their increase in popularity over the last several years, and while they may be a popular snack amongst kids and teens, Takis leave much to be desired in the health sphere. These chips contain Red 40 and MSG, and you can add TBHQ to their list of worrisome ingredients. While you will see this ingredient listed as an antioxidant, it is synthetically produced and not the health-promoting type of antioxidant you may be more familiar with. The Center for Science in the Public Interest recommends the public avoid TBHQ entirely, as it has been seen to increase the incidence of tumors in rats.

9 Cereals With the Lowest Quality Ingredients

Fritos Chili Cheese

fritos bag
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Although packed with flavor, these chips do not pack a nutrient punch. While many chips use a blend of vegetable oils for frying, corn oil is listed as the second ingredient in this variety of Fritos. Of all the common frying oils, corn oil is considered to be one of the lowest quality options because of its high concentration of Omega-6 fats that can promote inflammation in the body. Omega-6 is a fat you must consume through dietary sources, but processed foods like chips tend to have too much of this fat, and not enough of the anti-inflammatory fat Omega-3 to balance it out.

Pringles Scorchin' Chips

pringles scorchin' chips
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This line of extra spicy Pringles chips has various flavors, all of which contain many of the same worrisome ingredients. In these chips you'll find Red 40, Yellow 5, MSG, corn oil, and artificial flavors. It may be nearly impossible to completely avoid artificial ingredients in your food, but swapping these chips for ones that contain fewer artificial ingredients would be helpful.

For example, tortilla chips are often lower in ingredients and made with those you will recognize, like corn, salt, and lime. And, if you like the heat of chips like these, try adding hot sauce or salsa to a corn chip as a healthier alternative.

Baked Lays

baked lays

While baked chips are often thought of as the healthier alternative to traditional chips, this isn't always true. Yes, the baked varieties are lower in calories and fat compared to their counterparts, but they sometimes also contain more carbs and sugar per serving.

For example, traditional Lay's contain 15 grams of carbohydrates and less than 1 gram of sugar per serving while Baked Lay's contain 22 grams of carbs and 2 grams of sugar. These differences aren't massive, but it is worth noting that baked varieties shouldn't automatically be considered the healthier option.

8 Dips That Use the Lowest Quality Ingredients

Herr's Barbecue Potato Chips

herr's barbecue flavored potato chips

The ever-common MSG and corn oil are found in this chip variety, but one of the stand out ingredients here is the salt. One serving of these BBQ flavored chips contains 290 milligrams of sodium, which is considerably higher than many other potato chips.

For example, the plain potato chips made by Herr's only contain 180 milligrams of sodium per serving. Too much sodium can have negative effects on health, and could increase your risk of heart disease. Eating fewer processed foods, including chips, can be a helpful way to reduce total salt consumption.

Kelsey Hampton Abdullah, MS, RDN
Kelsey is a Texas-based dietitian and professor who specializes in sports nutrition. Read more about Kelsey
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