Kristie Leong M.D. is a family practitioner who believes in the power of nutrition and a healthy lifestyle to prevent and fight illness.
Red quinoa chips are a new type of chip manufacturers market as a healthier alternative to regular potato chips. They're made with quinoa instead of potatoes and have more protein, fiber, and other nutrients than potato chips.
Cultivated for thousands of years in the Andes Mountains of South America, quinoa is a seed high in plant-based protein and fiber. The red color comes from anthocyanin pigments that give the seed its nutritional benefits as well as its vibrant hue.
Red quinoa chips are marketed as gluten-free, but that depends on the facility that makes them. Some manufacturers of red quinoa chips make snacks that aren’t gluten-free in the same facility and there's a risk of cross-contamination. So, don’t rely on quinoa chips being gluten-free unless it says so on the package.
Red Quinoa Chips vs. Potato Chips: Are Quinoa Chips Healthier?
Red quinoa chips are made from the same plant as quinoa, but they’re processed differently. Manufacturers make red quinoa chips by drying red quinoa and grinding it into flour and turning it into a dough that they shape into a chip. some red quinoa chips are fried while others are baked.
The result is a snack like a potato chip. Many people believe they’re eating something healthy when they bite into a red quinoa chip, as some nutritional experts refer to quinoa as a superfood.
Although red quinoa contains modest amounts of nutrients, the processing that the chips undergo makes them less nutritious than the unprocessed red quinoa seeds that people use in plant-based recipes. How do they compare nutritionally to potato chips?
According to Foodstruct.com, red quinoa has four times the zinc that potatoes do. Zinc plays many essential roles in the human body. It is involved in wound healing, immune function, cell division, and growth. Zinc also helps form proteins and promotes normal brain development.
Red Quinoa Chips Contain Other Vitamins and Minerals Too
Quinoa is also a better source of iron, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, and B-vitamin folate while potatoes contain more potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6.
Quinoa also has more vitamin A and vitamin E relative to potatoes. Vitamins A, C, and E are antioxidant vitamins important for cellular health and immune function.
Red quinoa also contains other antioxidants, although the roasting and processing of red quinoa chips may reduce the antioxidant content. Red quinoa chips contain around 4 grams of protein while quinoa chips have 2 grams of protein.
A serving of red quinoa chips has between 130 and 150 calories, similar to potato chips. According to FitnessPal.com, it takes 13 minutes to burn the calories in a serving of red quinoa chips.
Watch Out for Sodium
One downside of any type of chip, including red quinoa chips, is the high sodium content. Manufacturers sprinkle their trips with varying quantities of sodium. Red quinoa chips contain from 150 milligrams to 350 milligrams of sodium per serving. The American Heart Association recommends consuming a maximum of 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily.
Plus, all chips, including potato chips and red quinoa chips, contain acrylamides. acrylamide, a chemical produced during frying, baking, roasting, and processing high-carbohydrate foods to give them crispness and texture. This chemical has been linked to cancer in animals and may be harmful to humans as well.
Smokers are also exposed to higher levels of acrylamides, so if you eat chips and smoke, you’re exposed to even higher levels of acrylamides.
Eat Red Quinoa Chips Only in Moderation
Red quinoa chips are a crunchy snack, but they aren’t as healthy as eating fresh red quinoa. Since they contain more protein and more vitamins and minerals relative to potato chips, they're modestly better for you than a bag of potato chips. Enjoy them in moderation!
- "Red Quinoa: Nutrition, Benefits, and How to Cook It - Healthline." 05 Jul. 2019, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/red-quinoa.
- "Red Quinoa Chips calories, carbs & nutrition facts | MyFitnessPal ...." https://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/calories/red-quinoa-chips-1098506680.
- "Survey Data on Acrylamide in Food | FDA." 25 Feb. 2022, https://www.fda.gov/food/chemical-contaminants-food/survey-data-acrylamide-food.
- "Acrylamide Factsheet | National Biomonitoring Program | CDC." https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/Acrylamide_FactSheet.html.
- Gökmen V, Senyuva HZ, Acar J, Sarioğlu K. Determination of acrylamide in potato chips and crisps by high-performance liquid chromatography. J Chromatogr A. 2005 Sep 23;1088(1-2):193-9. doi: 10.1016/j.chroma.2004.10.094. PMID: 16130751.
- Roohani N, Hurrell R, Kelishadi R, Schulin R. Zinc and its importance for human health: An integrative review. J Res Med Sci. 2013 Feb;18(2):144-57. PMID: 23914218; PMCID: PMC3724376.
- "Lower your sodium, and blood pressure will follow | American Heart ...." 15 Feb. 2021, https://www.heart.org/en/news/2021/02/15/lower-your-sodium-and-blood-pressure-will-follow.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.