Veggie straws are a popular but controversial packaged snack.
They’re marketed as a healthy snack, a fun way to consume vegetables, and a better alternative to potato chips.
But although “veggie” is in its name, this snack may not be all that it’s worked up to be.
This article explains whether veggie straws are healthy, how they compare with other chips, and fun ways you can meet your daily vegetable intake.
Veggie straws are a packaged snack that is crunchy, salty, and often compared to potato chips.
While there are several brand options, the original is the Garden Veggie Straws, Sea Salt produced by Sensible Portions in 2005.
They’re a certified gluten-free, kosher product that boasts of having no ingredients from genetically modified organisms and no artificial flavors or preservatives.
Based on the ingredient listing on the product package, these chips are made from:
- potato starch
- potato flour
- expeller pressed canola oil or safflower oil or sunflower oil
- spinach powder
- tomato paste
- cane sugar
- corn starch
- potassium chloride
- beetroot powder
- sea salt
Ingredients are listed in order of quantity. So, the first ingredient listed is the one used in the highest amount.
Therefore, potato starch, potato flour, and a combination of vegetable oils — as the first three ingredients — make up most of this snack.
The chips are deep-fried to produce an airy, crunchy, and flavorful product.
Veggie straws are a deep-fried snack made primarily from potato starch, potato flour, and a combination of vegetable oils.
Veggie straws are marketed as a healthier alternative to potato chips, claiming to have 30% less fat than the latter.
But how exactly does this snack compare with other chips?
And how does it stack up to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Smart Snacks guide?
The table below provides insight.
|Criteria||USDA FNS Smart Snacks guide||Sensible Portions Veggie Straws, Sea Salt||Lay’s Classic Potato Chips||Tostitos Original Tortilla Chips||Terra Sweet Potato Chips, Sea Salt|
|Serving size||n/a||1 oz. (38 straws)||1 oz. (15 chips)||1 oz. (28 g)||1 oz.|
|Calories per serving||200 or less||130||160||140||160|
|Total fat||35% or less||7 grams (9%)||10 grams (13%)||7 grams (9%)||11 grams (17%)|
|Saturated fat||less than 10%||1 grams (4%)||1.5 grams (7%)||1 gram (4%)||1 gram (5%)|
|Trans fats||0 grams||0 grams||0 grams||0 grams||0 grams|
|Sodium||200 mg or less||220 mg (10%)||170 mg (7%)||115 mg (5%)||10 mg (0%)|
|Added sugars||35% or less||0 grams||n/a||0 grams||0 grams|
Overall, veggie straws are lowest in calories per serving, but not vastly different in total fat and sugars compared with regular potato chips, tortilla chips, and sweet potato chips.
In fact, they’re the highest in sodium and exceed the USDA’s FNS sodium limit for Smart Snacks.
Veggie straws are the only snack that had 0 grams of fiber and less than 1 gram of protein per serving.
Dietary fiber, the indigestible portion of plant foods, plays an important role in reducing the risk of both childhood and adulthood obesity as well as some chronic conditions (
Veggie straws are comparable in total fats and sugars to potato chips, tortilla chips, and sweet potato chips, and they’re the highest in sodium.
In short, veggie straws aren’t a healthy snack. Like many foods that aren’t nutrient-dense, eat them in moderation.
Despite having the word “veggie” in their name, veggie straws are mainly processed potato and vegetable powders. Avoid using them to replace your daily intake of whole vegetables.
Eating veggie straws frequently could be a concern due to their high sodium content. Excess sodium is linked to hypertension, which is a leading risk factor for heart disease (
In fact, veggie straws may be regarded as a deceptively unhealthy food, a food that is marketed as healthy but contains little nutrition and may be high in sugar, fat, or sodium (3).
Marketing choices on the front of the package, such as using the word “veggie,” may cause consumers to have a positive attitude about the product and be more willing to purchase it, despite its lack of real health benefits (
This snack, despite its popularity, is not much different from other chips that are often criticized for their low nutritional value.
However, your overall diet quality and other lifestyle factors play an integral role in your risk of developing noncommunicable diseases like heart disease (
Therefore, it’s important to monitor the quality of your nutritional intake and enjoy fun foods, like veggie straws, in moderation.
Veggie straws are a processed snack that is high in sodium and should be consumed in moderation. Their high sodium content means that overconsumption may raise your risk of developing heart disease.
Packaged snacks, like veggie straws, aren’t the ideal way to meet your daily vegetable intake.
Here are easy and simple homemade vegetable snacks:
- Raw veggies with a dip. You can also try carrots with hummus or celery with peanut butter.
- Air-fried veggies. You get the same crispy texture with real vegetables rather than vegetable powders. Try these pumpkin fries or herb and lemon cauliflower snacks.
- Baked chips. If you don’t have an air fryer, you can bake your chips to achieve a similar outcome. Check out this baked beetroot, sweet potato, and potato snack.
- Smoothies. Another fun way to boost your veggie intake is to add some to your smoothies or even make fruit and vegetable freezer pops.
- Roasted chickpeas. These crispy snacks can be made in the oven or air fryer.
Packaged snacks shouldn’t be used to replace vegetables. Homemade veggies and dip, air-fried or baked veggies, and smoothies or freezer pops are fun ways to meet your daily vegetable intake.
Veggie straws are a packaged snack that is often marketed as a healthier alternative to potato chips.
However, this snack is primarily made from potato starch, potato flour, and a combination of vegetable oils that make it nutritionally similar to regular potato chips and tortilla chips.
It’s a fun snack that can be enjoyed in moderation, but it shouldn’t replace your regular intake of whole vegetables.
Just one thing
Try this today: The next time you purchase a packaged snack, read the nutrient label and choose a smart snack that has fewer than 200 calories and less than 200 mg of sodium per serving.