Are veggie straws good for you?
Bro. If pretending to be healthy were a crime, veggie straws would be locked up for life. They bring shame to the veggie name, and the world deserves to know.
“Veggie straws aren’t just dehydrated vegetables,” says Dana Hunnes, senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. “They’re basically white flour or another white starch that may have some small amount of dehydrated vegetables in them to provide flavor or more likely color.”
In other words, veggie straws are essentially empty calories disguised as dehydrated vegetables.
For proof, let’s take a look at the ingredients in Garden Veggie Straws:
- Potato starch = empty calories
- Potato flour = empty calories
- Expeller pressed canola oil and/or safflower oil and/or sunflower oil = fat
- Spinach powder = mostly for flavor or color
- Tomato paste = mostly for flavor or color
- Salt = bad for your heart
- Cane sugar = bad for your entire body
- Corn starch = empty calories
- Potassium chloride = salt substitute and potassium supplement
- Turmeric = for color
- Beetroot powder = for color
- Sea salt = more salt!
Just to demonstrate how worthless that small amount of spinach powder and tomato paste are, as far as nutrients go, one bag of these veggie straws contains only 6 percent of your daily recommended calcium intake and 4 percent of your daily recommended iron intake, which may (?) come from the spinach powder. (There are so few nutrients that it’s hard to tell where they come from.) The rest is essentially just fat, salt and empty calories, meaning Hunnes is right in saying that veggie straws use the smallest amounts of vegetables possible.
In fact, Hain Celestial Group, the company behind Garden Veggie Straws, was sued in 2017 for “misleading” consumers into believing that these snacks contain “the actual vibrantly depicted vegetables” on their packaging. Which, good.
None of this is to say that there are no good dehydrated veggie snacks out there. Some veggie chips are simply dehydrated vegetables with a dash of salt — click here to find the best ones — which would certainly qualify as at least somewhat healthy (or at least healthier than potato chips). “The dehydration process would retain and concentrate many of those beneficial nutrients,” Hunnes says.
But as for Garden Veggie Straws and other similar veggie posers, just admit to being potato chips, bro. Seriously.