Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Are Multigrain Chips Bad For You?



Short answer

Multigrain chips can be a healthier snack choice if they're high in fiber and protein and low in unhealthy fats, sodium, and additives. Still, they can vary nutritionally. Consumers should read labels carefully and enjoy them in moderation within a balanced diet. While beneficial whole grains are ideal, some chips may still contain refined grains and added sugars, diminishing their health value.



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Long answer

Nutritional Content of Multigrain Chips

The term 'multigrain' often conveys a sense of a healthier option when it comes to snack foods such as chips. However, it's important to delve into the actual nutritional content of these products to fully understand their health impact. Multigrain chips are typically made from a combination of grains which may include corn, wheat, oats, barley, and rice, among others. The diversity of grains can offer a range of nutrients, but the processing methods and additional ingredients will significantly influence their overall nutritional value.

Here's a breakdown of key nutritional aspects to consider for multigrain chips:

  • Fiber: One of the primary benefits of multigrain chips can be the fiber content due to the inclusion of whole grains. Dietary fiber is essential for digestive health and can help to regulate blood sugar levels. The actual fiber content can vary widely between brands and product lines, therefore it is important to check the Nutrition Facts label.
  • Protein: Multigrain chips may provide more protein than chips made from just potatoes or corn, thanks to the mixture of grains used. Protein is crucial for building and repairing tissues and can help in feeling full longer after snacking.
  • Fats: The type and amount of fat found in multigrain chips depend significantly on the oils used in the frying or baking process. Chips fried in oils high in saturated fats, or worse, trans fats, can negatively affect cardiovascular health.
  • Sodium: Many snack chips, including multigrain versions, contain high levels of sodium, which can lead to increased blood pressure and other health issues if consumed excessively.
  • Additives: Additives such as preservatives, artificial flavors, or colorants can be prevalent in some commercially available multigrain chips. Their presence can have uncertain effects on health, particularly when consumed regularly over long periods.
  • Calories: As with any snack food, the calorie content is an essential factor to consider, especially for individuals monitoring their calorie intake for weight management. Snack foods tend to be energy-dense with a high calorie count relative to their nutritional value.

A more detailed analysis of multigrain chips often requires examining a specific product's nutrition label. Here is an example of what you might find in a typical serving (about 1 ounce or 28 grams) of multigrain chips:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 140
Total Fat 7g
Saturated Fat 1g
Sodium 120mg
Total Carbohydrates 18g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 1g
Protein 2g

While the table above provides a snapshot, it's imperative to understand that the nutritional content varies by brand and product. Some multigrain chips may be closer to whole grain chips in nutritional profile, made predominantly with whole grains and minimal processing. Conversely, others might only minimally differ from their regular potato chip counterparts, as they contain refined grains and a similar balance of fats and additives.

To make more informed choices, individuals should look for multigrain chips with a short list of recognizable ingredients, a higher proportion of whole grains indicated by the term 'whole' in the ingredient list, and a nutritional profile that fits into their dietary needs—especially in terms of fiber, protein, and lower levels of sodium and unhealthy fats. Choosing baked chips over fried can help reduce fat content, and opting for organic or non-GMO options might align better with those seeking to avoid certain types of additives or agricultural practices.

It is also beneficial to consult the latest research on whole grain consumption and its benefits. Studies indicate that diets rich in whole grains are associated with a reduced risk of several chronic diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer (Slavin J, 2004). When selecting multigrain snacks, the closer a product is to delivering the benefits of whole grain intake, the better it may be for long-term health outcomes.

Ultimately, while the words 'multigrain chips' might suggest a healthful snack option, the true nutritional content may vary, and thus careful label reading is necessary. Balance and moderation are key, as even healthier versions of chips should be enjoyed as part of a varied and balanced diet rather than as a staple food item.

Comparing Whole Grain vs. Multigrain: The Health Implications

When we consider the nutritional content and health benefits of whole grain versus multigrain chips, it's crucial to understand the terminology. Whole grain refers to grains that retain all three parts of the seed – the bran, germ, and endosperm. Multigrain, on the other hand, means that a product contains more than one type of grain, but these grains aren’t necessarily whole. This distinction is significant because the components of whole grains each contribute various nutrients and health benefits.

Whole grain products, including chips, contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that are often lost during the processing of refined grains. A diet high in whole grains has been linked to a lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer. The fiber content in whole grains can also promote digestive health and help maintain a healthy weight due to its satiating effect.

Multigrain products may offer a broad array of nutrients if they are made from whole grains. However, if the grains are refined, the health benefits can be substantially diminished. Refined grains have been stripped of the bran and germ, leading to a loss of nutritional value. They are often enriched with some vitamins and minerals, but the fiber and other beneficial compounds found in the whole grain are not replaced.

  • Fiber Content: Whole grain chips typically have higher fiber content compared to multigrain chips made from refined grains, contributing to better gut health and satiety.
  • Vitamin and Mineral Diversity: Multigrain chips can contain a wider range of nutrients, depending on the variety of grains used and whether they are whole or refined.
  • Processed vs. Unprocessed: The health implications also hinge on the level of processing. Highly processed multigrain chips may contain added sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fats, diluting potential health benefits.
  • Antioxidants and Phytochemicals: Whole grain chips provide antioxidants and phytochemicals naturally occurring in the bran and germ, which can have anti-inflammatory and protective effects.

Consumers should look beyond the front label claims and delve into the ingredient list to discern the actual grain content of the chips they are choosing. A chip labeled as 'multigrain' might not contain whole grains, whereas a 'whole grain' label ensures the presence of all grain components. Understanding that whole grain options are generally healthier, especially if they are minimally processed with few additives, is crucial for making an informed dietary choice.

Research studies have highlighted the importance of whole grain intake for health. For example, a comprehensive study published in the Journal of Nutrition concluded that dietary fiber from whole grains is associated with a reduced risk of mortality. Another study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition supported the role of whole grain consumption in improving cholesterol levels and post-meal blood sugar responses.

In summary, the choice between whole grain and multigrain chips has implications for our overall health. To maximize the health benefits, preference should be given to chips made from whole grains and minimal additional processing or added ingredients. Consumers are encouraged to examine nutrition labels carefully to ensure that their multigrain choices are as healthful as they are palatable.

Hidden Sugars and Sodium in Multigrain Chips

At first glance, multigrain chips may appear to be a healthier snacking alternative due to their inclusion of various grain types, boasting a potentially higher fiber content and a more complex flavor profile. However, it's important to drill down into the details of their nutritional makeup, particularly concerning the levels of hidden sugars and sodium, which can often be overlooked by consumers.

The presence of added sugars in multigrain chips is sometimes masked under various names on ingredient labels. Hidden sugars can include high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, maltose, and cane syrup, among others. The American Heart Association recommends that women limit their added sugar intake to no more than 25 grams per day and men to no more than 36 grams per day. Consuming chips with high sugar content can easily contribute to exceeding these limits, potentially leading to health consequences such as weight gain, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

As for sodium, it's commonly known that excessive salt intake is associated with increased blood pressure and a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association advises no more than 2,300 milligrams a day and moving towards an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults. Multigrain chips can be surprisingly high in sodium, often to enhance flavor and preserve the product, which may lead consumers to inadvertently consume high amounts of sodium.

From a nutritional perspective, here are some key points consumers should be aware of:

  • Ingredient Complexity: The mixture of grains can result in a higher sugar content if grains of a sweeter nature are chosen.
  • Portion Control: Serving sizes on packaging may not reflect the amount typically consumed in one sitting, leading to unintentional overconsumption of sugars and sodium.
  • Flavorings and Seasonings: Barbecue, honey mustard, or other flavored varieties invariably contain higher sugar and sodium levels.

It's imperative for consumers to read nutrition labels carefully. Some multigrain chips might be lower in sugars and sodium, making them a wiser choice for those concerned with their intake of these ingredients. When scanning the label, identification of the type and quantity of sugars and sodium can provide better insight into the health implications of the chips.

Studies show that the consumption of high sodium and sugar-laden foods is linked to various health issues. For instance, a research article published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology strongly suggests a direct relationship between a high sodium diet and adverse cardiovascular outcomes.

In conclusion, while multigrain chips may have the advantage of incorporating diverse grains, it is crucial to remain vigilant about their hidden sugars and sodium content. They should be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, and consumers should always be informed by thoroughly checking the nutrition facts and ingredients list.

Trans Fats and Hydrogenated Oils in Processed Snacks

When we hear 'multigrain', we often think of a wholesome, nutritious option. But not all multigrain products are created equal, especially when it comes to processed snacks like multigrain chips. An ingredient to watch out for in these snacks is trans fats, which are present in hydrogenated oils.

The presence of trans fats in processed foods has been linked to significant health risks. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), trans fats can increase levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol while decreasing levels of "good" HDL cholesterol, potentially leading to coronary heart disease, a leading cause of death in the United States. In response to these health concerns, the FDA made moves to remove artificial trans fats from the food supply by June 18, 2018. However, compliance policies allowed certain products manufactured before this date to be distributed until January 2020, or in some cases 2021.

On the ingredient lists of multigrain chips, trans fats may appear as 'partially hydrogenated oils'. These oils are typically used by manufacturers to extend shelf life and enhance flavor stability, but their health implications are far from favorable. Even if a packaging claims '0 grams of trans fat', it's essential to scrutinize the ingredient list, as products are allowed to make this claim if they contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, which can add up if consumed in large quantities.

Thankfully, recognition of the dangers of trans fats has prompted many manufacturers to reformulate their products. However, vigilance is still necessary, as some may still contain trace amounts, or use alternative fats that might not be much healthier. Consumers should watch out for terms like 'interesterified fats', which can sometimes be used as a replacement for hydrogenated oils and may carry similar health concerns as trans fats.

To make a more informed choice when selecting multigrain chips or other processed snacks, here are some quick tips:

  • Always check the ingredient list for 'partially hydrogenated oils' and avoid products that contain this ingredient.
  • Be cognizant of serving sizes when the packaging claims '0 grams of trans fat'—if you're eating multiple servings, those trace amounts can compound.
  • Look out for alternative terms like 'interesterified fats' and conduct further research on these ingredients as they may not be much healthier than trans fats.
  • Seek out snacks that use unprocessed, non-hydrogenated fats like olive oil or avocado oil, which are considered to be healthier fat sources.

Ultimately, keeping an eye on the types of fats used in multigrain chips can help steer your snack choices towards healthier options, reducing the risk of the adverse health outcomes associated with trans fats and hydrogenated oils.

Portion Sizes and Consuming Multigrain Chips in Moderation

When pondering the question of whether multigrain chips are bad for you, an essential factor to consider is portion size. Chips are notoriously easy to overeat, and the 'multi-grain' label can sometimes incorrectly reassure us that we're making a healthy choice, leading to unintentional overindulgence.

An average serving size for multigrain chips is typically about 1 ounce (28 grams), or roughly a handful. This modest portion might seem small, but sticking to the recommended amount is crucial for maintaining a balanced diet. Overeating chips, even multigrain ones, can contribute to excessive calorie intake and may lead to weight gain and related health issues over time.

Consuming multigrain chips in moderation is key. Here is how you can enjoy them without overindulging:

  • Measure your portions: Instead of eating directly from the bag, serve yourself a single portion in a small bowl to avoid mindless snacking.
  • Beware of the health halo: Just because a product is multigrain, doesn't mean it's a free pass to eat as much as you want. Recognize that they can still be high in calories and fat.
  • Combine with healthier options: Pair a small portion of chips with a vibrant mix of veggies or a serving of hummus to increase the nutritional value of your snack without significantly boosting calories.
  • Read nutrition labels: Examine the label for serving size, calories per serving, and the presence of added sugars and saturated fats to make informed choices.
  • Practice mindful eating: Pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues. Savor each chip to increase satisfaction and prevent overeating.

Additionally, while the whole grains in multigrain chips can be beneficial, offering fiber and nutrients, they may be accompanied by less healthy ingredients such as added salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Therefore, moderation becomes even more critical when these added ingredients are considered.

Experts, including dietitians and nutritionists, often suggest that treats like multigrain chips should follow the 80/20 rule, where 80% of your diet consists of whole, nutrient-dense foods, and the remaining 20% can consist of less optimal food choices, like chips.

Remember, no single food item will significantly influence your health if consumed in moderation as part of a well-balanced diet. Moderation is the operative word, helping you navigate the line between nutritious snacking and unintentional excesses.

Healthier Alternatives to Standard Multigrain Chips

When reaching for a crunchy snack, many may opt for multigrain chips as a healthier choice over regular potato chips. However, not all multigrain chips are created equal. For those looking to maximize their nutritional benefits while enjoying a savory treat, here's a deeper look into healthier alternatives to standard multigrain chips that you can incorporate into your diet:

  • Homemade Multigrain Chips - Crafting your chips at home allows control over the ingredients and cooking method. Opt for whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, or oat flour and bake instead of fry for a heart-healthier option.
  • Air-Popped Popcorn - A whole-grain snack, air-popped popcorn is low in calories and free of the excessive oils often found in chips. Try seasoning with your favorite herbs and spices for flavor.
  • Baked Vegetable Chips - Kale, beet, and sweet potato chips offer a spectrum of vitamins and nutrients. Baking these thinly sliced veggies can deliver the satisfying crunch of chips with a nutritional boost.
  • Whole Grain Crackers - Many whole grain crackers available in the market use whole food ingredients and minimal processing. Look for options with simple ingredient lists and no added sugars.
  • Nuts and Seeds - A handful of unsalted, raw or dry-roasted nuts and seeds can provide beneficial fats, protein, and fiber. Almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds are some nutritious choices.
  • Legume-based Chips - Chips made from beans, lentils, or chickpeas tend to be higher in protein and fiber. These can be a great accompaniment to dips and salsas, adding both texture and nutrients.

When considering healthier alternatives, it is also essential to look at the packaging and nutritional labels of store-bought snacks. Pay attention to:

  • Ingredient quality - Choose snacks with whole food ingredients and without artificial additives or preservatives.
  • Serving size - Proper portion control can help manage calorie intake and prevent overeating.
  • Sodium content - Excessive sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, so opt for lower-sodium options when available.
  • Fiber content - Snacks rich in fiber are not only more satiating but also great for digestive health.
  • Sugar content - Some multigrain chips are deceptively high in sugars. Aim for snacks with minimal added sugars.
  • Fat type and content - Look for snacks low in saturated fats and trans fats, which are linked to heart disease.

Additionally, consider the methods of preparation for these alternatives, as they can significantly affect the healthiness of the snack:

  1. Always opt for baking or air popping over frying to reduce fat content.
  2. Season with natural herbs and spices rather than pre-made seasoning mixes that may contain artificial additives.
  3. When purchasing ready-made snacks, choose brands that are transparent about their ingredient sourcing and manufacturing processes.

Exploring these healthier alternatives to standard multigrain chips can lead to not only a more refined palate but also a more nutritional and beneficial way to enjoy your favorite snacks.

Frequently asked questions

Multigrain chips can be a source of whole grains, but it largely depends on the specific product's ingredients. Some may use whole grain versions of corn, wheat, oats, barley, and rice, which provide the full spectrum of nutrients found in the grain. However, many multigrain chips use refined grains, which have been stripped of their bran and germ, reducing their nutritional value. Careful examination of the ingredient list for words like 'whole' before each grain listed can indicate if the chips are indeed a good source of whole grains.

Multigrain chips can fit into a weight-loss diet when consumed in moderation and if they complement an overall balanced nutritional plan. It's important to consider portion size and the chip's specific nutritional content, including fiber, protein, and unsaturated fat content. Choosing varieties that are lower in calories and cooked using healthier methods, such as baking, can also make these snacks more suitable for a weight-loss diet.

To avoid overconsuming sodium, start by selecting multigrain chips that are labeled as low sodium or sodium-free. When reading the nutrition label, look for chips with 120mg of sodium or less per serving. Also, maintain awareness of your portion sizes and limit your overall intake to match the recommended daily sodium limits. Complement your consumption of chips with other low-sodium foods throughout the day to keep your total intake in check.

When choosing multigrain chips, the nutrition label is your guide to understanding their health impact. Look for a high dietary fiber content, ideally 3 grams or more per serving. Check protein levels, as higher protein can contribute to satiety. Be wary of high levels of sodium and saturated fats, choosing options with lower amounts. It's also crucial to check for added sugars and trans fats, which can negate other health benefits. Lastly, review the ingredient list for whole grain content and minimal additives for the healthiest choice.

Ask a question about Multigrain Chips and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • increased blood pressure
  • blood sugar spikes
  • overeating
  • weight gain

Possible long-term side effects

  • obesity
  • heart disease
  • type 2 diabetes
  • elevated ldl cholesterol
  • decreased hdl cholesterol

Ingredients to be aware of

  • saturated fats
  • trans fats
  • high sodium
  • added sugars
  • artificial additives
  • preservatives


  • fiber intake
  • nutrient variety
  • feeling of fullness

Healthier alternatives

  • homemade chips
  • air-popped popcorn
  • baked vegetable chips
  • whole grain crackers
  • nuts and seeds
  • legume-based chips

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

FSTG Tortilla Chips

  • Wholesome multigrain
  • Convenient 1.5oz packs
  • Bulk pack of 24
  • Great for snacking
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 02-28-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 02-28-2024

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