Vegetable-themed snacks like kale chips and chickpea puffs might sound healthy, but are they? There are tons of healthy chip alternatives in supermarkets, but new research shows that some of these so-called ‘healthy’ chips aren’t any better than regular potato chips. In fact, they could be worse.
The report, which was released on Wednesday by The George Institute for Global Health, VicHealth and the Heart Foundation for World Salt Awareness Week, found some products are hiding alarming amounts of salt that could be damaging to your health.
Findings revealed the saltiest product was a veg-based kale chip (DJ&A Kale Chips Slow Roasted & Lightly Salted) containing a whopping 7.8 grams of salt per 100g. The kale chip was 26 times saltier than the lowest product, a lightly salted sweet potato chip (Thomas Chipman Certified Organic Vegetable Chips Lightly Salted Sweet Potato) which only contained 0.3g salt per 100g.
Meanwhile, the saltiest legume-based snack contained seven times more salt than the lowest. The highest Simply 7 Lentil Chips Jalapeno contained 3.4g salt per 100g, while the lowest Marco Air Puffed Fava Beans Pizza Flavour and Coles Gluten Free Pizza Flavoured Faba Bean Packs, both contain 0.5g salt per 100g.
VicHealth Chief Executive Officer Dr Sandro Demaio said the report revealed the claims of so-called healthy chips don’t stack up.
“There’s a lot of greenwashing and health washing that goes on with these products to convince us to buy them. Just because a product is labelled as organic, gluten-free or it sits in the health food aisle doesn’t mean it’s actually good for us,” Dr Demaio said.
“A packet of kale or lentil chips might seem like a good option – particularly if parents are looking for a healthy snack for their kids – but they could be packed with salt.
“Around 75 per cent of the salt we eat is hidden in unhealthy processed and packaged foods. Manufacturers need to ‘shake off the salt’ and take responsibility for producing lower salt products that don’t hurt our health.”
Meanwhile, Heart Foundation dietician Sian Armstrong advised shoppers that as serving sizes vary greatly, people should compare processed snacks by reading the nutrition label and picking the lower salt option. She says less than 400mg sodium per 100g is okay.
“Don’t let the marketing health halo that surrounds these veg and legume-based savoury snacks mislead you,” she said. “You’re much better off having some colourful fresh veggie sticks, a piece of fruit or a handful of unsalted nuts than a packet of salty veggie or lentil chips to curb that afternoon craving.”
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