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chia dessert

Photo courtesy of Tom Schierlitz/Trunk Archive

21 Great Snacks from the Alt-Chips Aisle

Potatoes fried in high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, grain-free tortilla chips, coconut chips, vegan white cheddar puffs, and cassava galore. It’s great to see more chip options becoming available for different dietary needs, lifestyles, and taste buds. But as we’ve seen with plant-based meats, vegan cheese, and gluten-free pasta, the alternatives aren’t guaranteed to deliver on flavor (a deal breaker) or wholesome nutrition (not that we need our chips to have supplement-level vitamins and minerals, but we’re interested in the possibility of a healthyish option).

Our senior director of science and research (Gerda Endemann, PhD) delivered some back-pocket tips for shopping the alt-chips aisle, and our food director (Caitlin O’Malley) set out to pick the best-tasting ones out there.

TO CONSIDER BEFORE YOU START SHOPPING

LOOK FOR WHOLE FOODS

Generally speaking, the closer you can get to a whole ingredient, the healthier. Less processing typically means more nutrients are retained. And it can mean slower digestion. Super processed ingredients can digest into sugars really quickly.

BAKED, PUFFED, AND POPPED, WHEN POSSIBLE

This category is huge right now, with lots of tasty options. It’s a great way to enjoy a satisfying crispy or crunchy treat that isn’t cooked in oil.

IF IT’S FRIED, CHECK OUT THE OIL TYPE

Fried food is indeed delicious, and there are some healthier oils we go for when they’re available. Olive oil, avocado oil, and high oleic sunflower oil are all monounsaturated fats, which means they are less likely to oxidize than polyunsaturated fats (like corn and cottonseed oil). Without getting too granular and scientific, it’s worth noting that all oils will eventually oxidize over time or due to exposure to air and heat (check out our olive oil guide to learn more about that), so it’s not a perfect rule, just something to be aware of. More important, perhaps: Chips fried in olive oil taste really good.

THE CHIPS

We hope you enjoy the products recommended here. Our goal is to suggest only things we love and think you might, as well. We also like transparency, so, full disclosure: We may collect a share of sales or other compensation if you purchase through the external links on this page (including links to Amazon).

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