Why do some potato chips earn Guiding Stars?

Baked Seasoned Potato Chips
Baked Seasoned Potato Chips - 1 Guiding Stars

Now that Memorial Day, the unofficial start to summer, is behind us, we have summertime gatherings and getaways to look forward to. For most families, it’s a safe bet that potato chips will be part of the spread at backyard barbecues, picnics, and pool parties. They are among America’s most popular “snack foods” and sales spike during the summer months. There’s no wonder why, unless you’ve never tasted a potato chip. They are the classic high-fat, salty snack designed to make it hard to stop eating once you’ve started. Most Americans recognize that potato chips are a food that should be eaten in moderation. At the same time, due to shopper demands, there are an increasing amount of better-for-you chip options to choose from at the supermarket. For this month’s Surprising Stars, I’m going to explain why some potato chips earn Guiding Stars.

Good, Better & Best Nutrition

As you shop for groceries, Guiding Stars can help identify more nutritious options within a food category. We rate the nutritional quality of food using information from the Nutrition Facts label and the ingredients list. Foods are rated and receive a score based on the assignment of credits and debits. One star indicates good nutritional value, two stars indicates better nutritional value and three stars indicates best nutritional value. We take a positive approach to nutrition guidance. If a food does not meet the nutritional criteria to receive Guiding Stars, there is simply no rating next to that product. The program is not designed for comparing foods across categories, such as equating the star value of a variety of potato chips with that of a fresh watermelon. Even among chips, Guiding Stars can point you toward foods that are nutrient-dense.

Read more about how we evaluate foods here.

Chips that “Star”

Simply put, we crunch all the numbers so you can munch a better-for-you chip. You can trust our ratings to help you navigate confusing health claims on products like “baked,” “less fat,” or “plant-based.” Potato chips that earn Guiding Stars typically have less added sodium, sugar, and trans fats. They have more vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Manufacturers of these products have altered traditional potato chip recipes to use healthier oils and limit sodium, thereby making their product a more nutritious choice. There are many chip varieties that still do not qualify for Stars, so Guiding Stars makes it easy to identify the more nutritious chips as you shop.

1 Guiding Star Chips

Nutrition Facts label of chips that earn 1 Guiding Star

One Guiding Stars iconOne Guiding Star indicates good nutritional value.
1-point credit for potassium and no debits

0 Guiding Star Chips

Nutrition Facts label of chips that don’t earn stars

No Guiding Stars iconNo Guiding Stars foods do not meet our nutritional criteria to earn at least 1 Guiding Star.
No credits and a 1-point debit for added sugar

Snack Mindfully

Even though a Guiding Stars earning potato chip is a more nutrient-dense option than a chip that does not, it’s still a salty snack is prone to overconsumption because of its savory flavor. And as such, we should do our best to enjoy chips in moderation for good health. You might be surprised by how few chips there are in a serving.

One other thing: only 10% of Americans meet their daily recommended intake of fruits and vegetables. Sadly, potato chips do not count as a serving of vegetables in MyPlate. So, let’s do our best to mix in more fruit and vegetable sides into our food spreads this summer.