Potato chips make for a convenient, crunchy, and satisfying snack whether they're eaten alongside a deli sandwich or straight from the bag. Unfortunately, this seemingly harmless treat not only lacks essential nutritional value, but it may even seriously affect your health when consumed regularly. One study by Harvard researchers found potato chips are the food most strongly associated with weight gain over four years.
That's because most store-bought chips are made by deep frying potato slices in oil, which contributes to their high calorie count and detrimental impact on heart health. Eating too many unhealthy fats has been linked to adverse consequences such as heart disease, diabetes, and weight gain, underscoring the importance of making informed choices when shopping for your next bag of potato chips.
Luckily, there are some more nutritious alternatives to traditional potato chips that registered dietitians actually approve of. We spoke to the experts to find out exactly which healthy potato chips you should buy along with the absolute unhealthiest options to skip.
How to buy the healthiest potato chips.
Here are some factors that we considered when deciding on the healthiest and unhealthiest potato chips:
- Empty calories: Most chips are high in calories and when those calories come from fat, they're not super filling. Thus, it's easy to consume a significant amount without consuming much nutritional value.
- Saturated fats: Chips are typically made from frying potatoes in oil—which makes them oh, so flaky!—but it isn't so great for your cardiovascular health. Relying on convenient snacks like potato chips often can put you at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
- Sodium: It's challenging to avoid added salt when eating ultra-processed foods like chips. Your sodium intake will likely be higher than if you prepared a snack at home. We considered sodium content as a factor that can impact how healthy your chips are.
"Regardless of brand, look for potato chips with simple seasonings and ingredients instead of flavors with ingredients like preservatives, food coloring, or MSG. While still not a 'health food', some ingredient lists can be as simple as potato, oil, and salt," shares Bri Bell, RD of Frugal Minimalist Kitchen.
Let's find out which potato chips the experts say are the healthiest and unhealthiest on grocery shelves.
The 6 Healthiest Potato Chips
Best: Jackson's Sweet Potato Chips
I love Jackson's Sweet Potato Chips, which are cooked in avocado or coconut oil, Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT of One Pot Wellness tells us. "Sweet potatoes are a great source of natural sugars and contain beta-carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A in the body. Jackson's Sweet Potato Chips contain 40% of the daily recommended allowance of Vitamin A," she adds.
Pair these sweet potato chips with a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit for a fiber boost and even more staying power in your snack.
Best: Roots Idaho's Kettle-Cooked Purple Sea Salt Potato Chips
We love a low-salt chip for our health, and Roots has nailed the nutrition facts here without compromising on flavor. Sarah Garone, NDTR, CNC recommends Roots Idaho's Kettle-Cooked Purple Sea Salt Potato Chips. "Made with purple potatoes, they contain the antioxidant anthocyanin, which you won't find in white potatoes. One serving provides 10% of your daily potassium and just 5% of the daily sodium recommendation, which is an excellent ratio for promoting healthy blood pressure. The other bonus: they're grown in Idaho, which boasts some of the best growing conditions for nutrient-dense potatoes," she says.
Best: Terra Vegetable Chips with Sea Salt
Terra Vegetable Chips contain potatoes and other root veggies that add a variety of colors and nutrients to your salty snacking habit. Bonnie Newlin, MS, RD, CLT recommends Terra vegetable chips with sea salt, which are made with sweet potatoes, taro, and parsnips. "These chips are made from real vegetables, are gluten-free, and vegan. A serving of chips provides 3 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein," she says.
Best: Siete's Kettle Cooked Potato Chips
As a gut health dietitian, Kaytee Hadley, MS, RDN, IFMCP, CPT shares that she prioritizes real ingredients and anti-inflammatory oils which you'll find in Siete's Kettle Cooked Potato Chips. Made with just three wholesome ingredients: potatoes, avocado oil, and sea salt – they're a gut-healthy take on the classic snack, she says.
Best: Popchips Sea Salt
Popchips are one of the healthier potato chips on the market, shares Megan Huff, RD, LD Atlanta-Based Cardiac ICU Dietitian. "With just 3.5 grams of fat per serving, they have 50% less fat than regular fried potato chips. Instead of being fried, Popchips are heated under pressure yet still have the classic crunch of a regular potato chip that we all know and love," she adds.
Made without deep-frying, the chips have all the flavor of a traditional chip with half the fat. Enjoy grease-free fingers with Popchips and savor your snack with a potato chip that's sprinkled with delish spices and seasonings.
Best: Pure Protein Popped Crisps, Sour Cream and Onion
You won't even know these are bursting with protein and low carb. Pure Protein's Popped Crisps in flavors Hickory Barbecue and Sour Cream and Onion, provide a better-for-you snacking alternative, minus the empty calories. With 12 grams of plant-based protein per serving, Popped Crisps delivers approximately 16 percent of the average person's daily protein requirements – about six times more than a single-serving bag of chips.
The 4 Unhealthiest Potato Chips To Avoid
Worst: Takis Waves Fuego Potato Chips
I'd avoid the Takis Waves Fuego potato chips, says Mandy Tyler, M.Ed., RD, CSSD, LD. "These potato chips are high in total fat, saturated fat, and sodium. The chips are flavored with the classic spicy Takis chili pepper and lime seasoning. Foods that are high in fat, sodium, or spicy may cause heartburn in some individuals, and these chips check all three of those boxes. Individuals wanting a spicy snack would be better off enjoying baked potato chips with a side of salsa," she adds.
Worst: Pringles French Fries and Ketchup
With a trio of empty calories, saturated fat, and sodium, these chips leave much to the imagination for nutritional value. While the novel flavor of French Fries and Ketchup sounds appealing, we don't love the lack of nutrition in this canister. With 220 mg of sodium in just one serving, you'll meet 10% of your added salt — if you can stick with fewer than 14 Pringles.
Worst: Ruffles Sour Cream and Cheddar
This classic flavor is delicious, and unfortunately, not nutritious. In just 11 chips, you'll rack up 160 calories and 180 milligrams of sodium. Since that portion size is small, you might find it hard to stick with the recommended serving and find yourself overeating these.
Instead, consider making your own chips and dip at home. Mix Greek yogurt with a savory packet of ranch or taco seasoning and dip veggies, crackers, and chips into it for a high protein, lower calorie option.
Worst: Lay's Dill Pickle Chips
Lay's is clever for bringing us this fan-favorite flavor, but these chips pack a punch when it comes to empty calories and sodium. By comparison, plain dill pickles will get you less than 10 calories and about half the sodium in these chips.