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Health: Why The Healthy Snack Isn’t Always The Healthiest Choice

stephanie-web Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3 and The CW Philly 57’s Emmy Award-win...
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By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Why the healthy snack isn’t always the healthiest choice.  3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has the cold hard facts on some of today’s hottest products.

Snacking has never looked so healthy.  Crunchy kale, roasted seaweed, black bean chips, or how about Cruncha ma-me or Snapea Crisps.

“Actually they have some flavor to it,” said Pamela Harris, after eating Snapea Crisps.

“Tastes like a dry turnip,” said Walter Jenkins, after trying crunchy kale.

Seventy-one percent of snack foods now make at least one health claim, according to research from Innova Market Insights.  Claims like low fat, high protein, and multigrain are on labels.

“I like them,” said Paula Leeder, after trying sweet potato chips.

The research also found that 16 new snacks containing seaweed were introduced in the first six months of the year.

“Tastes like you just pulled it out of the ocean off a boat and you’re eating it.  Very yucky,” said Chrissy Sheehan, after trying a sheet of seaweed.

But how healthy is healthy?  Seventeen Terra Sweet Potato Chips have 160 calories and 11 grams of fat.  That’s more than the same amount of regular Utz Potato Chips that have 150 calories and nine grams of fat.

One ounce of Utz Potato Chips has 95 milligrams of sodium.  The same amount of Whole Foods Veggie Straws have almost triple the amount of sodium, 280 milligrams.

Comparing the Veggie Straws and chips what does Sally Eisenberg, a Philadelphia nutritionist, recommend?

“If I had to advise you between the two, I would say the potato chips,” said Sally.

But in some cases, the healthy snack really is healthier, like with Beanitos Black Bean chips.  Compared to Dorito’s, they have a similar amount of calories and fat, but more fiber and a lot less salt.

“You really have to be your own detective and your own advocate.  All by itself Kale is extremely healthy.  Spinach, extremely healthy.  But you put it in to a processed chip, it makes it look like it’s becoming healthier, but it’s really just a chip,” said Sally.

When looking for a healthy snack, there’s a lot to consider including fiber, whole grain, and sodium.  And you’ll be seeing more choices.  Some big snack companies are making healthier products that are baked, with less fat, salt and sugar.

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