Vegetarian straws are a popular but controversial packaged snack.
They are marketed as a healthy snack, a fun way to eat vegetables, and a better alternative to potato chips.
But while “vegetarian” is in its name, this snack might not be all it’s meant to be.
This article explains whether vegetable straws are healthy, how they stack up against other potato chips, and some fun ways to meet your daily vegetable intake.
Vegetarian straws are a packaged snack that is crunchy, salty, and often compared to potato chips.
While there are several branded options, the original is the Garden Veggie Straws, Sea Salt produced by Sensible Portions in 2005.
This is a certified gluten-free kosher product that claims to contain no ingredients from genetically modified organisms, artificial flavors or preservatives.
According to the list of ingredients on the product packaging, these crisps are made from:
- mashed potatoes
- potato flour
- canola oil or safflower oil or expeller pressed sunflower oil
- spinach powder
- tomato paste
- cane sugar
- potassium chloride
- beet powder
- sea salt
The ingredients are listed in order of quantity. Thus, the first ingredient listed is the one used in the highest quantity.
Therefore, potato starch, potato flour, and a combination of vegetable oils – like the first three ingredients – make up the bulk of this snack.
The crisps are fried to produce an airy, crunchy and flavorful product.
Vegetarian straws are a deep-fried snack consisting primarily of potato starch, potato flour, and a combination of vegetable oils.
Vegetarian straws are marketed as a healthier alternative to potato chips, claiming to have 30% less fat than the latter.
But how exactly does this snack compare to other crisps?
And how does that compare to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Smart Snacks guide?
The table below gives an overview.
Overall, vegetarian straws have the fewest calories per serving, but aren’t much different in total fat and total sugars than regular potato chips, tortillas, and sweet potato chips.
In fact, they’re the highest in sodium and exceed the USDA SNSF sodium limit for smart snacks.
Vegetarian straws are the only snack that contained 0 grams of fiber and less than 1 gram of protein per serving.
Dietary fiber, the non-digestible part of plant foods, plays an important role in reducing the risk of obesity in children and adulthood as well as certain chronic diseases (
Vegetarian straws are comparable in total fat and sugars to potato chips, tortilla chips and sweet potato chips, and they are the highest in sodium.
In short, vegetable straws are not a healthy snack. Like many foods that are not rich in nutrients, eat them in moderation.
Although they have the word “vegetarian” in their name, vegetarian straws are mainly powders of processed potatoes and vegetables. Avoid using them to replace your daily intake of whole vegetables.
Eating vegetable straws frequently could be a concern due to their high sodium content. Excess sodium is linked to high blood pressure, which is one of the main risk factors for heart disease (
In fact, vegetable straws can be considered a deceptively unhealthy food, one that is marketed as healthy but has few nutrients and can be high in sugar, fat, or sodium (3).
Front-of-package marketing choices, such as the use of the word ‘vegetarian’, can lead consumers to have a positive attitude towards the product and be more willing to buy it, despite its lack. real health benefits (
This snack, despite its popularity, is not much different from other crisps which are often criticized for their low nutritional value.
However, the overall quality of your diet and other lifestyle factors play a critical role in your risk of developing noncommunicable diseases like heart disease (
Therefore, it is important to monitor the quality of your nutritional intake and to consume fun foods, such as vegetable straws, in moderation.
Vegetarian straws are a processed snack that is high in sodium and should be eaten in moderation. Their high sodium content means that overeating can increase your risk of developing heart disease.
Packaged snacks, like vegetable straws, are not the ideal way to meet your daily vegetable intake.
Here are some easy and simple homemade vegetable snacks:
- Raw vegetables with a dip. You can also try carrots with hummus or celery with peanut butter.
- Air fried vegetables. You get the same crispy texture with real vegetables rather than vegetable powders. Try these pumpkin fries or herbal lemon cauliflower snacks.
- Baked chips. If you don’t have an air fryer, you can cook your fries for a similar result. Check out this snack of baked beets, sweet potatoes and potatoes.
- Smoothies. Another fun way to increase your veggie intake is to add some to your smoothies or even make fruit and veggie popsicles.
- Grilled chickpeas. These crispy snacks can be made in the oven or in the deep fryer.
Packaged snacks should not be used as a substitute for vegetables. Homemade vegetables and dips, fried or baked vegetables, and smoothies or popsicles are fun ways to satisfy your daily vegetable intake.
Vegetarian straws are a packaged snack that is often marketed as a healthier alternative to potato chips.
However, this snack is mostly made with potato starch, potato flour, and a combination of vegetable oils that make it nutritionally similar to regular chips and tortilla chips.
It’s a fun snack that can be enjoyed in moderation, but it doesn’t have to replace your regular intake of whole vegetables.