PAST BITE   

SunChips, Original

June 17, 2009
What it is: A whole-grain multi-grain chip with no preservatives
How it comes: 8.5-ounce and 10.5-ounce bag
Where it is: In the supermarket snack aisle and online at shop
Who it's for: Anyone looking for moderate-fat, whole grain snack chip
Suggested retail price: $3.29; $3.79
Nutrition notes: A serving contains 18 grams whole grains, 2 grams fiber and 30 percent less fat than regular potato chips
Category: Fabulous Food: A healthy twist

Bonnie: Yes, it’s true. I am a registered dietitian and am recommending a chip. No, not for everyday eating. But when you do reach for a chip, which most people do more than occasionally, I suggest you try original SunChips.

These tasty morsels are good for you and for the environment. SunChips contain 30 percent less fat than regular potato chips (that’s only 6 grams instead of 9 or 10 grams total fat per serving). They’re deliciously crisp and delicately salty, only 120 milligrams salt per serving.

SunChips — currently Frito-Lay’s best-selling brand of chips — are made with all-natural ingredients: whole corn, sunflower oil, whole wheat, rice flour, whole oat flour, sugar and salt.

What’s most remarkable is that a serving contains 18 grams of whole grains, which is more than one of the three servings recommended daily. That, plus 2 grams of fiber.

And, the chips are packed in compostable packaging and made with the help of solar energy instead of fossil fuel — at least at their plant in Modesto, CA, one of eight locations where the snacks are made.

Bryan: Potato chips are terrible for you, right?
Well, it turns out that this is not exactly true when you really take a look at it. To turn an Orwellian phrase: “All chips are equal, but some chips are more equal than others.”

Though most standard “potato chips” servings are heavy on saturated fat and sodium while light on just about everything of positive nutritional value, SunChips has somehow found a way to turn this equation on its head. I’m not about to tell you that a bag of chips-a-day will keep the doctor away, but there are certainly servings that will do more good than others.

Let’s look at the “bad” stuff first:
A one-ounce serving of normal potato chips on average has values of 175 calories, 10 grams of fat (3.1 saturated) and 150 milligrams of sodium, with saturated fat noted as 16% of RDA. This is a pretty dramatic contrast to a serving of SunChips, which has 140 calories, 6 grams of fat (1 gram saturated) and 120 milligrams of sodium, with both saturated fat and sodium levels noted as 5% of RDA. The SunChips rate lower on everything “bad,” and are a dramatically better food in terms of their saturated fat (what keeps us all on the treadmill). Round One – SunChips.

On to the good:
SunChips has 2 grams of dietary fiber compared to 1 gram for normal potato chips. Two grams of dietary fiber! That’s 9% of your RDA! That’s a pretty amazing improvement. Though it may seem like the difference between 1 gram and 2 grams is small (it’s 1 gram for all of you counting at home) — this is TWICE as much fiber in the same serving. That’s a lot! Round Two – SunChips.

Bite of the Best has long been promoting great products we’ve come across that try to increase dietary fiber content in everyday foods, from whole wheat pasta to Kellogg’s FiberPlus bars. There are many choices we make every day at the supermarket and we figure you might as well get the best nutritional value for your money.

The FDA has long noted that a diet rich in whole grains and low in saturated fat and cholesterol will help reduce the risk of heart disease. So, if you’re going to snack, you may as well snack smarter. And, oh yeah, they’re tasty — but you probably figured that by now.

Eric: Healthy chips that taste good: an oxymoron, or a simple truth? In recent years, with food companies and the FDA implementing buzzwords such as “heart healthy” and “all-natural,” there have been many products vying for the top position in the consumer’s shopping cart – even within the so-called “junk-food” industry. In past Bites we’ve written on ice cream, tortilla chips and even dips that are for the health conscious, so why should potato chips be any different? SunChips have been around for years, but it wasn’t until recently that consumers and nutritionists have cited the chips for their health benefits, especially pertaining to fiber and whole grains.

SunChips won’t replace regular potato chips, but they do act as a great substitute while you’re in the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle.

10 Comments on “SunChips, Original”

  1. EB Says:

    Thanks for relieving the guilt. I love these Sunchips and feel better now about eating them!! (Now, how about the dip?)

  2. frankkras Says:

    These are delicious – and healthy too.

  3. frankkras Says:

    I recently won the microwave and steamfresh coupons. I received both. The microwave is beautiful and haven’t yet gotten hubby to install it. I absolutely love the Birdseye dinners for 2. They are great and I don’t feel like I am overeating. Just enough and so tasty! This is a great site and I feel grateful to have won such a great prize.

    frankkras@msn.com

  4. barbera del monferrato Says:

    Wow, I never knew that Original. That’s pretty interesting…

  5. vino del monferrato Says:

    I was just thinking about PAST BITE and you’ve really helped out. Thanks!

  6. vendita diretta vino Says:

    That’s great, I never thought about SunChips, like that before.

  7. Chrissy Says:

    Great article. I think people place way too much emphasis on what’s bad for you and never really try to incorporate things that are really good for you. Thanks for the tip!

  8. martica Says:

    I LOVE SUN CHIPS! the salsa ones are delish! Good to know they’re as healthy as i thought ( in moderation).
    http://martica45.wordpress.com

  9. LookAroundYou Says:

    There seems to be some confusion here, Sun Chips are not healthy theyre just not as bad as regular chips.

  10. What’s Up With Sun Chips? | Fiber is the Future Says:

    [...] – you try stopping at 1 oz, about 16 chips). You can see the 2 grams of fiber reviewed in a 2009 blog review by another dietitian. Now, in 2010, I noticed that Sun Chips are mysteriously touting 3 grams of fiber, for that same 18 [...]

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