One of the most popular snack foods in the UK is crisps. Whether you’re enjoying a summer picnic, looking for something to bulk out your lunch or just trying to stave off those mid-afternoon hunger pangs, crisps always seem to hit the spot. However, we all know they aren’t the healthiest option.
Even though many of us will pick up packets of crisps that are advertised as being healthier, such as vegetable versions or baked options, are they really that much better for us? According to new research from Wren Kitchens and nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed, ‘healthy’ crisps could actually be doing more damage than good.
In fact, they found that mixed root vegetable crisps contained more fat than a Mars Bar and traditional types of crisps. These ‘healthy’ crisps are less than two-thirds vegetable and over one-third oil and salt, which is far from healthy!
But it isn’t just the fat that these products contain that can be dangerous to health. The fact that many of them are marketed as being healthy means that a lot of people end up eating more than they should. The effect of seeing that something is meant to be healthier often means we end up doubling our portion as we think they are ‘guilt-free’, which can have a big impact on waistlines.
Ms Stirling-Reed said: “The concern with products that are often seen as ‘healthier alternatives’ such as vegetable crisps, is they don’t always match up to their reputations. Crisps are crisps, and even if they are made with vegetables, they are likely to contain too much in the way of fat, saturated fat and salt. In fact, the vegetable crisps here have higher levels of saturated fat and salt than some well-known, regular crisp brands.
“As a nutritionist, I’ve seen this first hand in weight loss clinics where clients may eat even as much as double a portion size of a product if it’s perceived to be healthy.”
But it isn’t just crisps that could be a problem. Foods that are advertised as being low or no sugar may also have implications on your overall health. Sugars are often swapped with sweeteners like acesulfame-K and aspartame, which have been linked to serious illnesses in studies, as well as depression and irritability in adults – neither of which is good.
To help you find out what foods and drinks are actually as healthy as they say they are, Wren Kitchens has released its new Behind the Label tool. This looks at what fat, sugar and additives can be found in ‘healthy’ alternatives and gives advice on what this can mean.