We're a nation of crisp lovers, but just how bad are crisps for your health and diet? We look at the calorie, fat and saturated fat content of the most popular flavours to separate the healthy crisps from the ones that we'd be better off avoiding.
It's estimated that us Brits consume a heart-stopping 6 billion packets of crisps a year (that's 150 packets each). We have the largest selection of crisp flavours in Europe and munch our way through more packets of the potato snack than any other neighbouring country. Basically, we're crisp crazy, regardless of whether our crisps of choice are a healthy snack or not.
“Crisps seem to be a part of the lunchtime habit alongside the conventional sandwich, however, it should really be considered as an occasional treat instead," says registered dietitian Roxane Bakker. Devoid of vitamins and minerals and known to carry high salt, fat and calories, crisps don't necessarily boast the best reputation - despite all their crunchy deliciousness.
We asked Roxane to help us rank a number of beloved crisp brands from best to worst nutrition-wise, so you're clued up next time you pick up a packet.
What are the healthiest crisps?
The healthiest crisps are Walkers French Fries which are the overall winners in terms of fat content and calories. One bag of these firm British favourites equates to 78 calories and boasts 2.9g of fat (the lowest in our round-up). These nutritional values apply to all three French Fries flavours too - be that Ready Salted, Salt and Vinegar or Cheese and Onion. So this means you can chop and change your choice without worrying that one flavour contains more calories or fat than the other.
- Healthiest crisps overall: French Fries
- Best crisps for salt content: Tesco’s Lentil Curls
- Best crisps for fat content: French Fries
The least healthiest crisps are Pringles which show an alarming lack of nutritional goodness. Their label states that potatoes make up less than half of the recipe, meaning they’re packed with fatty oils and starch. What’s more, Original Ready Salted Pringles contain nearly 10g of fat per serving (that’s 13 crisps). It’s worth noting that this fat figure increases depending on what flavour you choose too, edging you closer to the NHS’s daily limit for saturated fat (less than 20g a day)
- Worst crisps overall: Pringles Original
- Worst crisps for salt content: Doritos Cool Tortilla Chips
- Worst crisps for fat content: McCoy’s Flame Grilled Steak
Healthy crisps ranked from best and worst
Healthiest crisps overall: Walkers French Fries Ready Salted
Per Packet (18g) – Cals: 78 Fat: 2.9g Saturated fat: 0.3g Sugar: 0.2g Salt: 0.45g Price: £1.50 for a pack of 6 at Tesco
Verdict: Walkers French Fries have the least fat, remarkably low saturates, and with 78 calories per 18g bag, you get more bang for your buck than other crisps on the spectrum. A worthy winner indeed!
Popchips Sea salt and Vinegar Potato Chips
Per Packet (23g) – Cals: 95 Fat: 3.3g Saturated fat: 0.3g Sugar: 0.6g Salt: 0.50g Price: 85p from Tesco
Verdict: Popchips are brilliantly low in saturated fats - a winning mark in our books! And with 95 calories per bag, they rate pretty highly in our healthy crisps round up too. Roxane says these crisps are 'popped' rather than fried which makes them a more nutritious option compared to other leading crisp brands.
Kp Skips Prawn Cocktail
Per Packet (13.1g) – Cals: 71 Fat: 4.2g Saturated fat: 0.4g Sugar: 0.9g Salt: 0.29g Price: 99p for a pack of 6 at Tesco
Verdict: There's many positives to this popular childhood crisp classic: “One of the healthier options out there in the crisp market, Skips don’t contain any artificial colours, flavours or MSG - a flavour-enhancing additive," says Roxane. They’re also made with 100% sunflower oil and are low in calories. Whilst the multipack bag is one of the smallest in weight (at only 13.1g), they are still one of the healthier options n the market.
Best crisps for salt content: Tesco Lentil Curls Sour Cream and Chives
Per Packet (20g) – Cals: 93 Fat: 3.8g Saturated fat: 0.4g Sugar: 0.6g Salt: 0.4g Price: 85p for a pack of 6 at Tesco
Verdict: These tasty new crisps from Tesco don't score too badly on the calorie front, and aren't ridiculously high in fat, which makes them not a bad option for a midday snack.
Walkers Oven Baked Cheese and Onion Crisps
Per Packet (25g) – Cals: 109 Fat: 3.4g Saturated fat: 0.3g Sugar: 1.9g Salt: 0.24g Price: £1.50 for a pack of 6 at Ocado
Verdict: The baked versions of Walkers crisps are far lower in fat and calories than the originals. If you're consciously counting the calories, we recommend swapping regular Walkers for their baked variety as they promise the same flavour but with better nutritional values.
Per Packet (16g) – Cals: 86 Fat: 4.9g Saturated fat: 0.4g Sugar: 0.4g Salt: 0.34g Price: £1.50 for a pack of 6 at Tesco
“Despite having no artificial colours and flavours, these crisps are still relatively high in fat in comparison to it’s calories," notes Roxane. "They contain 12% 'real' cheese which suggests that they contain protein to help maintain muscle mass and keep cravings at bay.” The beauty of Quavers is that they're light, so a bag feels generous and you're still not eating a massive quantity of them.
Walkers Wotsits Really Cheesy
Per Packet (16.5g) – Cals: 82 Fat: 5.3g Saturated fat: 0.5g Sugar: 1.2g Salt: 0.26g Price: £1.50 for a pack of 6 at Tesco
Verdict: Another cheesy favourite. “At just 82 calories per 16.5g bag, these crisps are certainly a good low-calorie option if you’re treating yourself to crisps," says dietitian Roxane Bakker. Wotsits are baked and not fried, which helps to keep them under 100 calories. Though their saturated fat and sugar values make these a sub-par choice.