Shopper’s Guide: Chips & Dips

No matter which holiday or celebration you’re enjoying, crackers and dip are almost certain to be part of the festivities. There’s no reason you can’t fit some crunch and creaminess into your eating plan, but it is important to be aware of what you’re digging into.

Crackers can be high in fat and sodium but they can also be a good source of fiber. To maximize nutrition look for crackers made with as few ingredients as possible. The most nutritious are those made primarily with a whole grain of some sort and seasonings. In addition, choosing crackers made with whole grains can help boost the fiber content.

There are pros and cons regarding dips too. Some dips are made with sour cream, cheese, bacon, and more, which means they can be loaded with fat and sodium. Others are made from nutrient-rich ingredients such as beans or yogurt. These dips from the latter group often provide far fewer calories, fat, and sodium. The benefits of this are two-fold. These dips fit more easily into a healthy eating plan. Plus, you can occasionally splurge. For example, doubling up on a dip that’s 30 calories and 2 g of fat won’t negatively impact your diet much. On the other hand, a double portion of a 100-calorie, 9 g fat dip is quite different.

Helpful Hints. To enjoy a tasty snack and keep your health in check, consider the following tips:

Mix things up a bit. To boost your nutrient intake, consider enjoying your dip with  raw veggies and your crackers with calcium-rich cheese.

Serving size check. Remember, the nutritionals in the chart are for 2 tablespoons of dip. To keep portions in check, serve yourself 2 tablespoons onto a plate, rather than repeatedly scooping out of the serving bowl.

Cracker size. While a serving of all the crackers is 30 grams, the number of crackers you’ll get for that ranges from 4 to 19. Check the Nutrition Facts Panel to help keep your cracker count in line.

—Heidi McIndoo, MS, RD

 

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