The nutritional quality of chips (such as potato and corn chips), crisps (ie, snacks made from dehydrated potato, extruded corn, etc) and cravers (savory crackers manufactured so as to compete in the same niche than chips and crisps) can be described by looking at their location on a scale such as the Balanced Nutrition Index™ (BNI™). Illustration 1 does so, helping us visualize the nutritional balance of chips, crisps and cravers in New Zealand (based on research done by Perezgonzalez, 2012a2_i10).
There are two obvious pieces of information coming from this table. On the one hand, chips, crisps and cravers sit, on average, on the extreme end of nutritional balance (they are above 30 units removed from a perfectly balanced food, ie BNI 0.011).
On the other hand, there still are sensible differences in nutritional balance between these types of food. Indeed, potato crisps are the preferable foods if one were to choose the most balanced ones among those in these group, followed by corn chips. Meanwhile, wheat and tapioca crisps are among the most unbalanced, on average.
|Illustration 1: BNI of chips, crisps & cravers (averages)|
|extreme||44.98-fb, Potato crisps|
|~||49.44f, Corn chips|
|~||55.71na, Wheat cravers|
|~||57.89na, Rice cravers|
|~||67.36-fb, Corn crisps|
|~||68.14f, Mixed cereal crisps|
|~||71.12f, Potato chips|
|~||80.34na, Wheat crisps|
|~||92.75na, Tapioca crisps|
An immediate application can be derived from illustration 1: using the information so collated to choose more balanced foods. Furthermore, it is also possible to dig deeper and select among the most balanced products within each category (see Perezgonzalez, 2012a2_i10), although this is geographically limited to New Zealand and, perhaps, Australia, with the data so far available).
In practice, assuming as true the correlation between nutritional balance and health which underlies the different national recommended dietary intakes (Perezgonzalez, 20111), health professionals can direct those patients in need of a more balanced diet accordingly, perhaps running down the scale of these 'junk foods' before moving onto more balanced and, in principle, less tastier foods. Encouraging patients to substitute potato crisps for wheat or tapioca crisps helps them improve their diet of 'junk food' sensibly and may prevent initial resistance as well as 'bouncing back' to the old diet by some of them.
Want to know more?
- WikiofScience - Nutritional balance of foods
- This WikiofScience page collates information about several foods on a single page and provides useful links to the appropriate files.