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

Are Terra Chips Bad For You?

Also Known As: Vegetable chips, Exotic vegetable chips



Short answer

Terra Chips offer a more nutritious option than traditional potato chips due to their variety of root vegetables, fiber content, and absence of added sugars. However, they contain similar calorie levels, are high in fats, and some varieties may be rich in sodium. Acrylamide formation and oxidized oils present potential health concerns. Like any processed snack, they should be consumed in moderation within a balanced diet to minimize any negative health effects. Making healthier snack choices and practicing portion control are recommended for overall wellbeing.



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Long answer

Nutritional Content Analysis of Terra Chips

When examining whether Terra Chips are beneficial or detrimental to your health, it's pivotal to dissect their nutritional content. Terra Chips, known for their blend of root vegetables, offer a somewhat different nutritional profile compared to regular potato chips. Below, we will break down the main nutritional components found in a standard serving of Terra Chips, which typically equates to about 1 oz (28 grams).


The caloric content in a serving of Terra Chips is typically in the range of 130 to 150 calories. This is comparable to the caloric count of many other chip varieties available in the market. However, the source of these calories in Terra Chips is what makes them stand out – they're derived from a blend of root vegetables, such as taro, sweet potato, and parsnip.


Carbohydrates are the primary macronutrient in most chip products, and Terra Chips are no exception. A standard serving contains about 14-16 grams of carbohydrates. This also includes a dietary fiber content of 2-3 grams, which is slightly higher than what is found in traditional potato chips. The presence of fiber contributes to satiety and has a beneficial effect on digestive health.


Fat content in Terra Chips is notable, as it stands at around 9 to 11 grams per serving. It's important to understand that they contain a mix of saturated and unsaturated fats. The unsaturated fats are healthy fats, which are preferable in a balanced diet.


Terra Chips provide a modest protein content, usually amounting to 1-2 grams per serving. While not a significant protein source, it contributes to their overall nutritional value.

Vitamins and Minerals:

The unique blend of root vegetables in Terra Chips yields a diverse array of vitamins and minerals. For instance, sweet potatoes are a rich source of vitamin A, while taro can offer vitamin E and B vitamins. Many root vegetables also provide essential minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and iron. However, the specific amounts vary depending on the mix of vegetables used in different Terra Chip varieties.


One serving of Terra Chips generally contains between 50 to 160 milligrams of sodium. This range is crucial to scrutinize as it can make a significant difference for those monitoring their salt intake. It's lower than many conventional chips, but certain flavors may contain higher levels of sodium. Always check the specific product labeling for accurate sodium content.

Added Ingredients:

Terra Chips, while primarily made from a variety of vegetables, also include added ingredients such as oils (canola, safflower, and/or sunflower oil) and seasonings. The use of non-hydrogenated oils is a positive aspect, as these types of oils are considered healthier than hydrogenated versions, which contain trans fats linked to heart disease.


Most Terra Chips varieties are free of added sugars, highlighting the natural sweetness of the root vegetables. This is advantageous for those trying to reduce added sugar consumption.

It's important to note here that while these components give us a baseline, the overall nutritional impact of Terra Chips on an individual's diet depends on consumption patterns and portion sizes. Moderation is key, as is integrating them into a diet that's rich in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

When assessing these nutritional facets, we can deduce that Terra Chips may offer a marginally better nutritional choice than traditional potato chips, particularly due to their fiber content and variety of root vegetables. However, to provide a comprehensive evaluation, one must also consider factors such as the potential for overconsumption and the effects of the oils and seasonings used.

For those with dietary restrictions or specific health concerns, it's always advisable to consult with a registered dietitian or nutrition expert to analyze how Terra Chips fit within your unique nutritional requirements.

Comparison with Traditional Potato Chips

When examining the health implications of Terra Chips, it's crucial to compare them with traditional potato chips, a common snack choice worldwide. Potato chips are typically high in calories, fat, and sodium, with little nutritional value. Let's delve into key areas of comparison:

  • Ingredients Diversity: Terra Chips are known for their variety of root vegetables, including sweet potato, taro, parsnip, yuca, and batata. This diversity can introduce a broader range of nutrients not found in standard potato chips, which are mostly made from white potatoes.
  • Nutritional Content: The different root vegetables in Terra Chips contribute varying amounts of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. For example, sweet potatoes are a rich source of vitamin A, while taro provides a good amount of fiber. In contrast, traditional potato chips typically offer fewer vitamins and minerals.
  • Caloric Density: Terra Chips often match or exceed the caloric density of regular potato chips. It's important to pay attention to serving sizes, as larger portions can lead to unintentional overconsumption of calories.
  • Type of Fats: The type of oil used in frying both Terra Chips and traditional potato chips affects the overall health impact. Many potato chips are fried in oils high in saturated fats, whereas Terra Chips may be fried in oils like canola or safflower, which have a higher proportion of unsaturated fats. However, this varies by brand and flavor, so it's important to read labels carefully.
  • Sodium Content: Both Terra Chips and traditional potato chips can be high in sodium, which is a concern for individuals monitoring their salt intake due to hypertension or heart disease. Comparing labels can help choose a lower-sodium option.

Research indicates that the consumption of processed snacks, regardless of the base vegetable, can contribute to a range of health issues if not moderated. A study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that a higher intake of fried, salty snacks is associated with greater health risks (DOI: 10.1016/j.jada.2011.04.011).

It's also worth noting that nutrient retention in chips depends on the cooking method. A study from the Food Chemistry journal suggests that frying can degrade valuable nutrients such as vitamins and antioxidants (DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2011.09.070).

While Terra Chips offer a novel and diverse texture and flavor experience, and possibly some marginal nutritional benefits over traditional potato chips, they should still be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Presence of Harmful Acrylamides in Terra Chips

When considering the health impact of popular snack foods, such as Terra Chips, it's crucial to address the presence of acrylamides. Acrylamide is a chemical that can form in some foods during high-temperature cooking processes, such as frying, roasting, or baking. Terra Chips, known for their variety of vegetable chips, are not immune to this chemical reaction.

Formation of Acrylamides:

Acrylamides form primarily in plant-based foods that are rich in carbohydrates. They are the result of a chemical reaction called the Maillard reaction, which occurs between sugars and amino acids — specifically asparagine — when heated above 120°C (248°F). Since Terra Chips include vegetables like sweet potatoes and beets, which contain these components, they are potential hosts for acrylamide formation during their cooking process.

Health Implications:

The discovery of acrylamides in food, which was not widely recognized until the early 2000s, led to a significant concern among health experts. Studies conducted on animals have shown that high levels of acrylamide can cause neurological damage and are considered potential carcinogens. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified acrylamide as a "probable human carcinogen," which indicates a likely association with cancer development when consumed in large quantities over time.

It is important to note that the studies yielding these results are often at acrylamide exposure levels far higher than what humans would ingest through a normal diet. However, the potential risks associated with long-term, cumulative intake are not completely understood and warrant mindful consumption.

Acrylamide Levels in Terra Chips:

While the exact levels of acrylamide in Terra Chips vary by batch and flavor, the cooking method used to create their distinctive crispiness is comparable to that used by other high-temperature cooked snacks. Researchers measure acrylamide concentrations in parts per billion (ppb). According to the FDA, detected levels in potato-based snacks can range from undetectable amounts to above 1000 ppb. As consumers, it's challenging to determine the precise level in a particular bag of Terra Chips without specific testing data provided by manufacturers or regulatory bodies.

Reducing Acrylamide Intake:

  • Cooking temperature: Snack manufacturers can control the formation of acrylamide by monitoring and adjusting cooking temperatures. At home, baking or air-frying chips at lower temperatures can also minimize acrylamide creation.
  • Variety selection: The type of vegetables used can impact acrylamide levels. For instance, sweet potatoes tend to form less acrylamide compared to regular potatoes.
  • Storage and preparation: Proper storage and handling of food ingredients before cooking can influence the acrylamide levels in the final product. Avoiding excessively long storage periods and incorrect temperatures can reduce the amount of asparagine in the raw ingredients.

FDA Guidance for Industry:

The FDA has provided the industry with recommendations to mitigate the levels of acrylamide. This includes steps such as selecting potato varieties that are lower in reducing sugars, optimizing food processing methods to decrease cooking time, and exploring alternative cooking methods that are less likely to form acrylamide.

While the presence of acrylamides in Terra Chips is an aspect of concern for those aiming to reduce potential health risks, the overall impact should be assessed within the context of one's entire diet and consumption frequency. It is advisable to enjoy such snacks in moderation, as part of a balanced dietary pattern, and to be conscious of acrylamide intake from various food sources.

Sodium Levels and Blood Pressure Concerns

When it comes to snacking on Terra Chips, one important nutritional aspect to keep in mind is their sodium content. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, moving toward an ideal limit of 1,500 mg per day for most adults. With such guidelines in place, understanding the sodium levels in Terra Chips becomes crucial for maintaining healthy blood pressure and preventing hypertension—a condition often exacerbated by high sodium intake.

Let's break down the sodium content in a typical serving of Terra Chips:

  • A 1-ounce serving (about 19 chips) of Terra Original Sea Salt Chips contains approximately 50-160 mg of sodium, depending on the specific variety.
  • Flavored options, like Terra Blues Sea Salt Chips, may have higher sodium levels due to added seasonings.

Comparatively, a serving of regular potato chips can have over 170 mg of sodium, sometimes reaching beyond 200 mg. Therefore, when consumed in moderation, Terra Chips seem to offer a lower sodium alternative. However, the cumulative effect of sodium intake from multiple food sources throughout the day can still pose a blood pressure concern.

Excessive sodium in the diet can lead to increased blood pressure, as it holds excess fluid in the body and puts an added burden on the heart. This risk is something that hypertensive individuals, or those with a family history of hypertension, should be particularly wary of.

A study published in the British Medical Journal found that a modest reduction in salt intake for a duration as short as four or more weeks caused significant and, importantly, immediate falls in blood pressure in adults1. Such findings underscore the importance of monitoring sodium intake for overall cardiovascular health.

Additionally, Potassium levels, often found in fruits and vegetables, can mitigate the effects of high sodium. Some Terra Chips varieties incorporate vegetables that may contribute to the potassium content, potentially helping to balance the sodium-potassium ratio which is vital for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels.

Therefore, if Terra Chips are a preferred snack, it's essential to consider the following tips:

  • Pairing Terra Chips with foods high in potassium, such as a serving of fresh fruit or a vegetable salad, to help counteract sodium intake.
  • Sticking to the servings suggested on the packaging to keep sodium consumption in check.
  • Exploring no-salt or low-sodium varieties if available.
  • Reading nutrition labels and ingredient lists carefully—seasoned or flavored varieties may contain higher levels of sodium than plain versions.

By being mindful of the amount of Terra Chips consumed and the sodium they contribute to your diet, you can enjoy these snacks without significantly impacting your blood pressure and health.

For those with pre-existing hypertension or on a low sodium diet, consulting with a healthcare provider or a registered dietitian is advised before incorporating Terra Chips or similar snacks into your diet, to tailor recommendations to individual health needs and ensure nutritional balance.

1 He, F. J., & MacGregor, G. A. (2002). Effect of longer-term modest salt reduction on blood pressure. British Medical Journal, 324(7341), 885–888. https://www.bmj.com/content/324/7341/885

The Role of Oxidized Oils and Health Implications

When considering the health implications of any packaged snack, including Terra Chips, one critical factor that deserves attention is the presence and role of oxidized oils. Oxidation of oils occurs when the fats are exposed to air, light, or heat, leading to the formation of harmful compounds that can have various adverse effects on health.

Oxidized oils contain free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can cause cellular damage. This oxidative stress contributes to inflammation and has been linked to chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, and even certain cancers. Snacks like Terra Chips, when not properly stored or if they have been on the shelf for too long, might have oils that have started to oxidize.

Some studies have highlighted the potential risks associated with the consumption of oxidized oils. For instance:

  • A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry suggested that oxidized fats could impair endothelial function, which might contribute to cardiovascular diseases.
  • Research in the Free Radical Biology and Medicine journal indicated that dietary intake of oxidized fats can lead to increased oxidative stress and inflammation markers in the body.

Additionally, the process of cooking chips at high temperatures, which is typical for creating the crispy texture we enjoy, can increase the likelihood of oil oxidation. This is particularly concerning for chips that contain a blend of exotic vegetable oils, such as those found in some varieties of Terra Chips. These exotic oils can include sunflower oil, canola oil, or safflower oil, among others, each with varying susceptibility to oxidation.

It is also important to note that the rate of oxidation depends on the type of fatty acids present in the oils. Polyunsaturated fats tend to oxidize faster than monounsaturated or saturated fats due to their chemical structure. This means that Terra Chips containing oils with higher percentages of polyunsaturated fats may potentially pose a greater risk if these oils have oxidized.

Manufacturers often take steps to prevent or delay the oxidation process through packaging and the addition of antioxidants. However, once the package is opened, the contents are exposed to air, and the likelihood of oil oxidation increases. Therefore, the time between opening the bag and consuming the chips can influence the extent of oil oxidation and its associated health risks.

Consumers should remain vigilant about the freshness of their snack products and look for any signs that might suggest the presence of oxidized oils, such as an off-smell or unusual taste. While food manufacturers are required to maintain safety and quality standards to prevent the presence of oxidized oils in their products, it's beneficial for consumers to prioritize consuming freshly packaged products to minimize potential health risks.

In conclusion, while the occasional consumption of Terra Chips is unlikely to lead to significant health problems, being aware of the role and health implications of oxidized oils is important for making informed dietary choices. Opting for snacks that use oils with more stable fatty acid profiles and consuming them promptly after opening can help reduce the intake of oxidized oils.

Portion Control and Frequency of Consumption

The importance of portion control cannot be overstated when it comes to consuming snack foods such as Terra Chips. While Terra Chips offer a variety of root vegetables, providing a mix of nutrients not commonly found in traditional potato chips, they still can contribute significantly to daily caloric intake if consumed in large quantities. Let's delve into the intricacies of portion sizes and how frequently you can enjoy Terra Chips without undermining your diet.

Terra Chips come in a range of flavors, each with a unique nutritional profile. However, on average, a 1-ounce serving (about 14 chips) contains approximately 150 calories with roughly 9 grams of fat. Adhering to the recommended serving size is crucial to avoid excessive calorie and fat consumption.

  • Stick to the serving size: Limit yourself to one serving at a time to keep your intake in check.
  • Measure servings: If sharing from a larger bag, use measuring cups or a kitchen scale to ensure you're not surpassing the suggested portion.
  • Snack mindfully: Instead of eating directly from the bag, place a single portion on a plate or bowl to prevent mindless overeating.

Eating Terra Chips in moderation is key. Although they are made with natural vegetables and contain no artificial flavors or preservatives, Terra Chips are still a source of sodium and are fried in oil, contributing to their saturated fat content. Regularly consuming high amounts could lead to potential health issues such as weight gain, elevated cholesterol levels, and increased blood pressure.

Experts recommend that you treat Terra Chips as you would any other snack - a sporadic indulgence rather than a daily habit. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest keeping discretionary calories—including those from snacks like chips—to a minimum.

  • Occasional treat: Enjoy Terra Chips as an occasional treat rather than a routine snack.
  • Balance with other foods: Pair a small portion of Terra Chips with a healthy dip or alongside a portion of fruit or vegetables to create a more balanced snacking experience.
  • Alternative days: If you're keen on snacking on chips, try to alternate days or even weeks when you include Terra Chips in your diet, to avoid high-frequency consumption.

Consider the role that Terra Chips play within your overall dietary pattern. For someone with a highly active lifestyle and a balanced diet, enjoying these chips occasionally might not have a significant impact. However, for someone with a sedentary lifestyle or dietary restrictions, eating Terra Chips might require more careful consideration and restraint.

To summarize, the nutritional impact of Terra Chips on your health boils down to portion control and frequency of consumption. Enjoy them in moderation, and always be mindful of the serving size to maintain a balanced diet.

Healthier Snacking Alternatives to Terra Chips

Opting for healthier snacking alternatives can be beneficial if you're looking to reduce your intake of processed foods, excess sodium, or unhealthy fats commonly found in popular snack options like Terra Chips. Here, we explore a selection of snacks that not only satisfy your craving for something crispy and delicious but also contribute positively to your overall nutritional intake.

Veggie Chips Made at Home: A healthier alternative to store-bought Terra Chips is making your own chips using fresh vegetables like kale, beets, or sweet potatoes. Slicing these vegetables thinly, lightly coating them with olive oil, and baking them until crispy allows you to control the amount of salt and oil used. Home-prepared vegetable chips not only retain more nutrients but also exclude preservatives and artificial flavors that may be present in commercial products.

Air-Popped Popcorn: Popcorn, when prepared without butter or excessive salt, is a whole grain snack that provides fiber and more volume per calorie, promoting feelings of fullness. Air-popping your own popcorn at home minimizes the addition of unhealthy fats typically found in pre-packaged or microwave versions.

Nuts and Seeds: Unsalted or lightly salted nuts and seeds are nutritious snacks that offer good fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Opt for a single serving to keep calorie intake in check, given their energy-dense nature. Varieties like almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds are among the healthiest options.

Roasted Chickpeas: Chickpeas can be roasted with a sprinkle of your favorite herbs and spices for a crunchy and protein-rich snack. These legumes provide fiber and a host of nutrients while being naturally low in fat and free of the processed ingredients found in many commercial chip products.

Fruit and Vegetable Slices: Sometimes simplicity is key when it comes to snacking. Fresh fruit and vegetable slices offer a hydrating and nutrient-packed option. Apples, carrots, cucumber, and bell peppers are great for crunch, while providing vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Homemade Rice Cakes: Puffed brown rice cakes can be seasoned with a dash of spices and herbs for a low-calorie, whole-grain snack. Unlike many processed snacks, homemade rice cakes can be free from added sugars and excess sodium.

Choosing alternatives to Terra Chips that are minimally processed and closer to their natural state can be beneficial for not only weight management but overall health. Incorporating these healthier snacks into your diet supports a balanced intake of nutrients and helps avoid the excessive consumption of additives and preservatives.

Remember, as with any snack, portion control is important to maintain a balanced diet. It's easy to over-consume even the healthiest of snacks, so being mindful of serving sizes is crucial.

By selecting from these healthier alternatives, you can indulge in delicious and nutritious snacking that contributes to your well-being rather than detracting from it. When possible, incorporate a variety of these options to ensure a wide range of nutrients and avoid snack-time monotony. Always check with a healthcare provider or a nutritionist if you have specific dietary needs or health concerns.

Frequently asked questions

Terra Chips are typically fried in oils such as canola, safflower, or sunflower oil. The frying process can impact their healthiness by increasing the fat content compared to baked options. While frying can yield a crispy texture, it's important to consider the type and quality of oil used, as well as the potential for oil oxidation at high temperatures, which can produce harmful compounds.

Most Terra Chips are naturally gluten-free as they are made from root vegetables; however, it's essential for individuals with gluten intolerance or Celiac disease to check the packaging for any gluten-containing ingredients or potential cross-contamination warnings. Always look for labels that specifically certify the product as gluten-free to ensure safety.

Terra Chips are marketed as containing no artificial flavors or preservatives; however, they do include seasonings and non-hydrogenated oils. Consumers should read ingredient lists carefully and be aware of any added compounds, even in small amounts, which might not align with a clean eating approach or specific dietary restrictions.

Terra Chips are made from a variety of root vegetables such as taro, sweet potato, and parsnip, which can provide a broader spectrum of vitamins and minerals. For example, sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, and taro is a good source of vitamin E and B vitamins. Traditional potato chips, made mostly from white potatoes, typically have fewer micronutrients and primarily offer potassium and vitamin C.

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

Possible short-term side effects

  • increased blood pressure
  • overconsumption of calories
  • possible intake of oxidized oils

Possible long-term side effects

  • weight gain
  • elevated cholesterol levels
  • hypertension
  • increased risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease

Ingredients to be aware of

  • saturated fats
  • sodium
  • acrylamides
  • oxidized oils


  • source of dietary fiber
  • variety of vitamins and minerals
  • contains unsaturated fats

Healthier alternatives

  • homemade veggie chips
  • air-popped popcorn
  • unsalted nuts and seeds
  • roasted chickpeas
  • fresh fruit and vegetable slices
  • homemade rice cakes

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Bare Baked Apples

  • Gluten-free snack
  • Natural fruit flavors
  • Crunchy and baked
  • No added sugar
  • Convenient snack packs
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 12-28-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 12-28-2023

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