Terra Chips: your daily vegetables?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s the dream of food marketers everywhere: slap a legitimate Health Halo on a food that consumers want permission to eat.

It’s the dream of consumers everywhere: get Health Halo permission to eat their favorite junk food.

Terra Exotic Vegetable Chips: the answer to everyone’s dreams.

They’re healthy.  It says so right on the front of the package:

“A full serving of vegetables in every ounce.*”

Note the asterisk.  The definition of “full serving of vegetables” is the one from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  One measly half cup of a vegetable, or 1 cup of a leafy vegetable, like lettuce.  Not much.  The photo compares 1/2 cup of broccoli with one weighed ounce of Terra Chips.  It’s not much chips.

In order to meet that criteria, Terra apparently figured out that the dried slices of vegetables would turn into 1/2 cup if you theoretically added water (don’t do that, though.  You’d have a mushy mess.).

Of course, being that these are chips, they have added fat and some sodium.  Here’s a nutritional comparison between 1 oz of Terra Chips and 1/2 cup of broccoli:

Terra Chips        Broccoli
150 calories       15 calories
9 grams fat        0 grams fat
50 mg sodium       15 mg sodium

There’s one other significant difference.  Broccoli is 90% water, so it’s filling.  Chips have almost zero water content, and aren’t filling.  You might eat 3-4 ounces before you notice anything.

These chips are at least pretty, with different colors.  If you can stand the price, they’re a better nutritional choice than cheese puffs or salty potato chips, for those (infrequent) times you might eat chips.   Just don’t depend on them for your daily vegetable intake.  The Dietary Guidelines suggest 4 servings a day.  If you depended on Terra Chips, you’d be consuming 600 calories.  If you depended on broccoli, you’d be consuming 60.

Do the Calorie Math

If you only ate 4 servings of chips, you’d eat an additional 540 calories/day.

You’d gain about a pound a week if you didn’t adjust your other calories every day to account for the extra from chips.

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