You see them everywhere and they claim to be the next healthy thing in snacking. But are veggie straws healthy? Or are you just eating a glorified potato chip?
As a mom of children who love salty, snack foods like these, I was interested to find out if these veggie straws were really all they’re cracked up to be.
You might be surprised what we found out when we looked into these crispy ‘vegetable’ snacks.
What are Veggie Straws?
Veggie Straws are a crunchy snack similar to a potato chip and contain vegetables in the ingredients.
The fact that they have vegetables in the ingredients makes consumers believe that they are eating healthy by eating a vegetable-based product.
There are a number of options on the market now, including many off-brand/store-brand versions. The most popular product are the original Veggie Straws by Sensible Portions.
Are Veggie Straws Healthy?
Depending on your version of healthy, these vegetable straws are technically no more than a baked potato chip.
As we discuss more below, Veggie Straws contain mostly potatoes and oils. Most people think of healthy snacks as whole fruits, vegetables, healthy fats like nuts, seeds, and avocado, low-fat dairy, and whole grains.
These snacks would not fall into that category.
That said, if you really love these snacks, then you should definitely enjoy them in moderation! They probably should not be your main snack food each and every day, though.
What are the ingredients in vegetable straw snacks?
From Sensible Portions website, the ingredients in the Sea Salt variety include:
- Potato Starch
- Potato Flour
- Corn Starch
- Tomato Paste
- Spinach Powder
- Potassium Chloride
- Beetroot Powder (for color)
- Canola Oil/Sunflower Oil/Safflower Oil/
- Sea Salt
Based on the above, the vegetables in Veggie Straws would be potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, and beetroot.
However, potatoes are listed as the first and second ingredients and are considered a high-carb, starchy vegetable.
They are not the green, leafy type of food that we tend to think of when we hear the word ‘vegetable’. And because potatoes are listed as the first and second ingredient, this means they are found in the highest quantity in the product.
Are Veggie Straws a good source of vegetables?
They are definitely a good source of potatoes. Now, whether or not you are hoping to consume potatoes as the main vegetable when you pick up a bag of Veggie Straws is another story.
Nutritionist Maya Feller told ABC News that:
“The average consumer is going to think they’re having broccoli, spinach, non-starchy vegetables when in fact they’re having a starchy vegetable, potato and potato starch.” (source)
Tomato Paste and spinach powder are the only other 2 vegetable ingredients listed on the label. They are the 4th and 5th ingredient listed.
We are not able to tell exactly how much of these vegetables are in the snack. Still, even though they are in the product, they are not the whole vegetable.
How do they compare to regular potato chips?
A 1 ounce serving of Lay’s Classic Potato Chips has 10 grams of fat and 160 calories.
A 1 ounce serving of Veggie Straws has 7 grams of fat and 130 calories.
The difference is not much at all.
The nutrition labels of each product are shown below.
Are Veggie Straws Healthy for Babies and Kids?
Many kids love Veggie Straws and for good reason. They are salty and crunchy and fit perfectly in little fingers. The marketers were definitely onto something when they created this snack!
However, you are basically eating potatoes, oil, and salt when you eat a Veggie Straw (or other vegetable chip). Of course, this is fine for special occasions, or when you need a little help distracting your kiddos while traveling or at the doctor.
However, these salty treats should not be a regular, everyday snack.
Opt for whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whatever source of protein fits your family’s dietary needs (meat, dairy, or nuts/legumes).
My kids love chopped up avocado with a little sprinkle of sea salt when they are craving some salty!
Other Options for a Crunchy Snack
A better option, of course, would be an actual raw vegetable cut up — like red bell peppers, snap peas, or baby carrots.
But if you’re looking for something salty and crunchy, you might look into investing in an Air Fryer or Dehydrator, which can cook veggies in a way to make them crispy, like chips. Your best bet is to slice the veggies thinly using a professional slicer or Mandoline slicer to guarantee extra crispiness.
Both gadgets will allow you to make your own veggie ‘chips’ at home. You can also try slicing the veggies thin and cooking them in your oven at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes (turning once).
Are you actually consuming any vegetables when you eat Veggie Straws?
Although you might be consuming a small amount of ground-up, dehydrated vegetables, the amount is likely quite small.
And even the amount your consuming is not a whole vegetable, so the complete benefit will not be gained.
And because USDA MyPlate encourages 2-3 cups of vegetables per day, a one-ounce serving of dehydrated potatoes with a bit of tomato and spinach will leave you far short of the daily recommended amount of vegetables.
Are Veggie Straws Healthy? The Final Verdict
Veggie Straws are simply not much different than regular potato chips! You are truly eating a glorified potato chip.
So, if you’re looking for a crunchy, salty snack, you may as well reach for the tastier option of potato chips. The amount of vegetables you’ll gain from Veggie Straws is minimal. The type of oils used in Veggie Straws is the same as most potato chips, so there isn’t even a difference there. A baked snack option like Cheez-Its would even be healthier since it contains less unhealthy fats!
Bottom line: if you don’t like vegetables but are still trying to get them in your diet, try sneaking them into a smoothie or other recipe like zucchini bread.