Potato chips and pretzels are a mainstay of American snacks. Say you’re at a party that’s offering just these 2 snacks, which do you choose?
The trivial answers are “the one that tastes best”. But let’s analyze the options through the lens of a dietitian. We’ll compare a single serving of chips to pretzels.
One-ounce serving of potato chips:
- 150 calories
- 10 grams fat (3 grams saturated fat)
- 180 milligrams of sodium
One-ounce serving of pretzels:
- 110 calories
- 1 gram fat (0 grams saturated)
- 500 milligrams sodium
At first, the pretzels seem like the best choice. They’ve got about 40% less calories, and almost no fat. But this is a shortsighted view.
A good snack needs to include protein, fat, and fiber in order to keep you feeling satiated. The pretzels contain virtually none of the these 3 nutrients. You’ll be craving additional nosh faster than you can lick the salt off your lips. Speaking of which, those 500 milligrams of sodium are over 20% of the recommended daily maximum consumption. Way too much.
While chips are higher in fat due to the oil they are fried in, they are made of potatoes, a nutrient rich vegetable (technically a tuber), compared to the refined wheat flour used for pretzels. Which means you are at least getting some vitamin C, and a heaping portion of potassium (400-500 milligram, which is 15% of the recommended daily intake). Potassium is a nutrient that sorely lacks in the American diet.
Does this mean we recommend potato chips as a source of nutrition? No. But given the option to choose between potato chips and pretzels, you now know what to do.