When the chips are down, which should you eat?

Consumer Reports

In olden days, a tortilla chip was a corn-based triangle. Now there are 14 Tostitos chips alone, with an array of shapes, colors, and ingredients.

To steer you toward a good choice, we had five trained panelists taste eight multigrain tortilla chips, and we found a clear winner.

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Nutrition

“Multigrain” sounds healthful, but it means simply that the product has more than one kind of grain, which may be whole or not. Whole grain means that all parts of that grain have been used, boosting fiber, which helps reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Whole-grain products also may contain more minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants.

It can be hard to identify whole grains from labels, but according to the Food and Drug Administration, some examples include oatmeal, whole-grain cornmeal, brown rice, whole-grain barley, whole rye, and buckwheat. Among the chips we tested, Garden of Eatin’ Blues has the longest list of whole grains. Other products list fewer or no whole grains. For guidance, go to www.fda.gov and search for “whole grain.”

You might pay a premium for multigrain. Nutrition statistics are similar for Tostitos Multigrain and Tostitos 100% White Corn Restaurant Style chips, but the multigrain chips cost about 30 percent more. “It costs us more to make the product,” a Frito-Lay customer-service representative told us.

Per 1-ounce serving, the tested chips have 130 to 150 calories, 6 to 8 grams of fat, and 2 or 3 grams of fiber. Sodium content has a wider range, as shown in the Ratings chart below.

Taste

Tostitos Multigrain, the only excellent chips in our tests, are crispy yet tender, with lots of sweet corn flavor. They’re tasty enough to eat without dip. But they’re also the priciest, at 44 cents a serving. Most others are very good, including Archer Farms, a Consumer Reports Best Buy at just 19 cents per serving. They are crispy, with lots of complex corn and sesame flavors. Trailing the rest is 365 Everyday Value from Whole Foods, whose chips are mild-tasting, a bit stale, and slightly tough.

Bottom line

Tostitos is tastiest; Archer Farms is cheaper and almost as good.

View photo

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Pringles vs. SunChips

In a separate test, our trained panelists compared new Pringles Multigrain chips, about 27 cents per serving, with SunChips Multigrain, about 35 cents per serving. They tried the brands in two flavors, original and cheese. The SunChips have whole-corn, whole-wheat, and whole-oat flour; the Pringles don’t have whole grains. The SunChips have more grain flavor; the Pringles have a dehydrated potato flavor. The SunChips have a little less fat and a little more fiber. Panelists said either product would make for fine snacking.

 

 

Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.

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