Healthy crisps: The best and worst crisps for your diet revealed

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  • 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, Head of Nutrition at Vitl. 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

    The winner of our healthy crisps round-up are Walkers French Fries

    Credit: Tesco

    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!

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    Popchips Sea salt and Vinegar Potato Chips

    Popchips are the second healthiest crisps available.

    Credit: Getty

    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. 

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    Kp Skips Prawn Cocktail

    Skips contain no artificial flavours which makes them a healthy crisps option

    Credit: Tesco

    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.

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    Best crisps for salt content: Tesco Lentil Curls Sour Cream and Chives

    A packet of Tesco Lentil curls

    Credit: Tesco

    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. 

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    Walkers Oven Baked Cheese and Onion Crisps

    A bag of baked Walkers are healthy crisps

    Credit: Ocado

    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. 

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    Walkers Quavers

    Walkers Quavers are a healthy packet of crisps

    Credit: Tesco

    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

    Verdict: 

    “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.

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    Walkers Wotsits Really Cheesy

    A multi-pack of walkers wotsits - a good option in our healthy crisps list

    Credit: Tesco

    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.

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    Walkers Salt and Vinegar Squares

    A packet of Walkers Squares

    Credit: Tesco

    Per Packet (22g) –
    Cals: 97
    Fat: 4g
    Saturated fat: 0.3g
    Sugar: 0.8g
    Salt: 0.48g
    Price: £1.50 for a pack of 6 at Tesco

    Verdict: Walkers Squares have very low amounts of sat fat and are relatively low in calories, but they still have 4g of fat per bag, so don’t go consuming on a daily basis…

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    Walkers Sunbites Sweet Chilli Flavour

    A pack of sun bites crisps from Walker

    Credit: Tesco

    Per Packet (28g) –
    Cals: 134
    Fat: 5.8g
    Saturated fat: 0.6g
    Sugar: 2.9g
    Salt: 0.17g
    Price: 65p at Tesco

    Verdict: Sunbites are a multigrain snack that come in various flavours – most of which are fairly low in calories. They also provide one third of an adult’s suggested daily amount of wholegrain per serving while having half the fat of a packet of ready salted crisps – and a third less calories. A great choice in our eyes!

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    Hula Hoops Ready Salted

    A 6 pack of hula hoops

    Credit: Ocado

    Per Packet (24g) –
    Cals: 121
    Fat: 5.8g
    Saturated fat: 0.6g
    Sugar: 0.5g
    Salt: 0.34g
    Price: £1.70 for a 6 pack at Ocado

    Verdict: Dissecting our healthy crisps list, Hula Hoops are low in sat fats and their calorie count is passable. But it’s their fat content (5.8g) which is proportionately high for a small 24g bag. They are however made with no artificial flavours or colours and contain no MSG – an added bonus.

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    Jacob’s Cheese Mini Cheddars

    A mutlipack of Jacob's mini cheddars

    Credit: Ocado

    Per Packet (25g) –
    Cals: 128
    Fat: 7.3g
    Saturated fat: 2.9g
    Sugar: 1.3g
    Salt: 0.6g
    Price: £1.50 for a 12 pack at Ocado

    Verdict: Despite being baked not fried and containing no artificial colours of flavours, Mini Cheddars have the second highest saturated fat content after Pringles (must be all that delicious cheese). They also have a high fat content considering the calories are relatively low, so approach with caution.

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    Kettle Chips Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

    A share bag of Kettle Chips Salt and Balsamic Vinegar

    Credit: Ocado

    Per 30g serving –
    Cals: 153
    Fat: 8.4g
    Saturated fat: 0.8g
    Sugar: 0.5g
    Salt: 0.4g
    Price: £1.25 for a 5 pack at Ocado

    Verdict: These deliciously ‘posh’ crisps are great when in need of a nibble, but they’re pretty high in calories. They also contain 8.4g of fat per serving, though the amount of sat fat in these Kettle Chips is brilliantly low. 

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    Walkers Monster Munch Mega Pickled Onion Snack

    A packet of Monster Munch crisps

    Credit: Tesco

    Per packet (40g) –
    Cals: 197
    Fat: 10g
    Saturated fat: 0.8g
    Sugar: 1.2g
    Salt: 0.62g
    Price: 85p at Tesco

    Verdict: Of all the baked corn snacks on the market, Monster Munch have the highest number of calories and fat content. However, the pickled onion flavoured crisps do have a relatively low amount of saturated fats.

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    Walkers Sensations Sweet Chilli Crisps

    A packet of Walkers Sweet Chilli Sensations - one of the least healthy crisps

    Credit: Tesco

    Per packet (40g) –
    Cals: 197
    Fat: 9.9g
    Saturated fat: 0.9g
    Sugar: 1.6g
    Salt: 0.57g
    Price: 85p at Tesco

    Verdict: Despite being free from preservatives, artificial colours or sweeteners, these crisps are still high in calories and have a high fat content. However they are relatively low in saturates, so if you really can’t resist their spicy flavour, they’re not the worst choice you could make. Just don’t get sucked in by a sharesize bag – there’s 504 calories in every 100g.

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    Worst crisps for salt content: Doritos Cool Original Tortilla Chips

    A packet of cool Dorito tortilla crisps

    Credit: Tesco

    Per packet (48g) –
    Cals: 239
    Fat: 12.2g
    Saturated fat: 1.7g
    Sugar: 1.3g
    Salt: 0.71g
    Price: 85p at Tesco

    Verdict: Bad news for fans of the humble corn chip – Doritos are the classic crisps to share with mates but with over 200 calories for a 48g grab bag they are notably high in calories and fat. They also have high sodium levels – again, one best left on the supermarket shelf.

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    Worst crisps for fat content: McCoys Flame Grilled Steak Crisps

    A packet of McCoy's flaming steak flavour crisps

    Credit: Tesco

    Per packet (47.5g) –
    Cals: 250
    Fat: 15g
    Saturated fat: 1.3g
    Sugar: 1.1g
    Salt: 0.71g
    Price: 85p at Tesco

    Verdict: Because of the size of each packet (nearly 50g – almost double the weight of other packets) these crisps are far from healthy or even low in fat. As Roxane notes: “To burn this amount of fat off it would take nearly an hour of cycling or 40 minutes of running.” There’s also nothing on the packets to suggest they’re free from artificial colours of flavours. McCoys Flame Grilled Steak crisps are fine as a one-off treat, but keeping them in your cupboard on a regular basis is a recipe for diet disaster. 

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    Worst crisps overall: Pringles Original

    A tube of original Pringles crisps

    Credit: Tesco

    Per 30g serving –
    Cals: 154
    Fat: 9.9g
    Saturated fat: 1.1g
    Sugar: 0.4g
    Salt: 0.40g
    Price: £2.50 at Tesco

    Verdict: Sadly, Pringles rate the worst overall in our healthy crisps list. “A 30g serving equates to around just 13 crisps, containing nearly 10g of fat and just less than 1g of both salt and sugar,” says Roxane. The dietitian adds: “Although these are identified as crisps, they actually contain 42% potato, leaving the rest up to wheat starch, sunflower oil, maize oil and rice flour.” Our days of popping Pringles might very well be behind us, or at least best enjoyed on extra rare occasions.

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