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."
With that in mind, you'll want to check out the following options, which are some of the unhealthiest chips you should absolutely steer clear of.
Fritos Chili Cheese Flavored Corn Chips
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."
Cheetos Minis Flamin Hot Bites
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."
Chester Flamin Hot Fries
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.
Doritos Spicy Sweet Chili Chips
"The frightening thing about [Doritos Spicy Sweet Chili Chips] is that only 10 chips will provide 7 grams of total fat and 1 gram of saturated fat," Campbell tells us while referring to these unhealthy chips.
An option that should obviously cause a considerable amount of concern for anyone who wants to keep their snacks on the reasonable side, Campbell notes that "if you are not paying attention to how much you're eating, you could end up consuming a significant amount of fat, just from your choice of snack."
"The sodium content is also on the high end at 280 milligrams per serving, making it not the most suitable or healthiest snack or meal accompaniment," she adds. That may be putting it mildly which might be the only mild aspect of this spicy snack.
Lay's Dill Pickle Flavored Potato Chips
"Unlike most other chips which have 1 gram of saturated fat per serving, these contain 1.5 grams of saturated fat per 28 gram serving," Campbell mentions while discussing Lay's Dill Pickle Flavored Potato Chips. You should consider that this is also "along with 10 grams total fat, 210 grams sodium, and 160 calories."
"The ingredient list is minimal for this product, which is nice," Campbell notes before also mentioning that "the vegetable oil used to fry these chips and salt added for flavoring do not make these chips a healthy choice."
If you're curious, a cup of either regular or low-sodium dill pickles only has about 18 calories, so you're better off snacking on the real thing as opposed to the chip version.
Mac's Salt & Vinegar Flavored Pork Rinds
"These are probably the worst choice out of all the options listed, simply due to the extreme amount of sodium per serving," says Campbell, which is surely not what fans of Mac's Salt and Vinegar Flavored Pork Rinds want to find out. However, disappointment won't change the fact that "these salt and vinegar pork rinds contain half its calories from fat which is 5 grams per 1/2 ounce serving, 2 grams saturated fat, and 400 mg sodium!"
Campbell also explains that Mac's Salt and Vinegar Flavored Pork Rinds "are marketed as keto and paleo-friendly and have 7 grams of protein per serving." Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that you should immediately stock your cupboards with this snack.
"For those wanting more protein in their diet, opt for lean pork loin or eggs and choose options with more mono- or polyunsaturated fats instead," Campbell says. In fact, she notes that this product "should be avoided for the sodium content alone."
Funyuns Onion Flavored Rings
Fun fact about Funyuns: They're known as "Cebolitos" in Brazil under a brand known as Elma Chips. Unfortunately, going by a different name doesn't necessarily make them any healthier. That also goes for using these unhealthy chips to create a blooming onion of sorts or putting them on burgers and pizza. We probably shouldn't even mention the Funyun-topped ice cream and Funyun-covered banana split.
While you might need a moment to digest those dish (and dessert) ideas, you definitely shouldn't be consuming an abundance of Funyuns. Indeed, however, you like to eat them, Mary Wirtz, MS, RDN, CSSD, a nutritional consultant at Mom Loves Best, says that these are the kind of crunchy snack that you should cut back on ASAP before you find yourself overindulging.
Ruffles Queso Cheese Chips
There's no doubt that Ruffles chips can be delicious, and any cheese-lover will likely tell you that the queso is a drool-worthy dip. While combining the two in Ruffles Queso Cheese Chips may be a flavor overload, the real reason why these are among the unhealthiest chips you can find is that they also contain a high number of calories, fat, and sodium in each serving, according to Wirtz. In fact, even if you only nibble on 11 chips in a single serving, you'll still be consuming 150 calories along with 10 grams of fat and 230 milligrams of sodium. Although that might already seem like an iffy issue, let's be honest—who only eats 11 chips at a time?
Pringles Philly Cheesesteak Chips
The Philly Cheesesteak is the kind of sandwich that can spark fierce debates over the ideal ingredients and proper preparation. Although every version surely has its tasty merits, most of them share a few things in common that define the dish. Indeed, when you bite into a Philly Cheesesteak, you surely expect to taste "caramelized onion, sirloin steak, cheese, and a hint of garlic."
Pringles has done its best to capture those flavors and deliver them via its Pringles Philly Cheesesteak Chips, which are inspired by the beloved sandwich. Unfortunately, to do so, they came up with a snack that contains 150 calories per serving, hence why Wirtz advises against eating them.
In our opinion, if you're going to indulge in these flavors, then you might as well go for an actual Philly Cheesesteak sandwich and fully enjoy the occasional ooey-gooey goodness. We happen to have a Philly Cheesesteak recipe with caramelized veggies and a low-calorie Philly Cheesesteak recipe that you may not be able to resist.
Pringles French Fries and Ketchup Chips
French fries can be an unhealthy item on their own, and eating them in chip form with Pringles French Fries and Ketchup Chips doesn't improve the situation. Wirtz adds them to her list of crunchy snacks to be wary of, which makes sense when you consider that they have 150 calories per serving. Since they're not exactly a healthy choice, they surely also aren't worth eating over the real deal.