The paleo diet, also known as the Paleolithic diet, is a popular diet that mimics the diet of hunters and gatherers from thousands of years ago. Lean meat, fish, veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds are all permitted on this simple diet.
Because grains and potatoes are excluded on the paleo diet, that means most conventional chips are a no-no. But you can still get your chip fix, thanks to brands that manufacture tasty chips following the diet's strict restrictions, such as Barnana organic plantain chips.
What to know before you buy a paleo chips
Paleo chips are made from several paleo-friendly ingredients.
Cassava is a root that is used in popular paleo tortilla chips. It can be ground into a flour and used to mimic wheat or corn flour in chips and tortillas. Cassava-based chips are best for dipping in salsa and guacamole. Another popular root vegetable used in paleo chips is the sweet potato. Most paleo diets allow sweet potatoes because they have a lower glycemic index than white potatoes and have a higher nutrient value. They also make for tasty chips.
Another popular stable for paleo chips are plantains or green bananas. These starchy fruits turned into chips can help you transition off of potato chips when you start a paleo diet. They are often salted with Himalayan salt or sea salt, which is a healthier form of sodium than what most potato chips offer.
A good portion of paleo chips use nut flours in their recipes. Nuts are a paleo-friendly food that are packed with healthy fats and nutrients. Because grains are not permitted, wheat flour is a no-go. Almond flour and coconut flour, however, are allowed and are the most common replacements for wheat flour in paleo recipes, including baked chips. If you have a nut allergy, read the ingredient list for paleo chips carefully, as they are more likely to include nut flours than regular chips.
Kale chips aren’t always marketed as paleo, but as long as they don’t contain refined oils, they are paleo-friendly, not to mention highly nutritious. Most kale chips use a dehydration process and no oils are used at all. Zucchini and cauliflower chips are other veggies you may see advertised as a grain-free alternative to chips; just scan their ingredient list for refined oils before buying.
Another paleo-friendly chip are pork rinds. Made from oven-baked or fried pork, this meat-based, crunchy snack is both appropriate for keto and paleo dieters.
The paleo diet allows for unrefined oils such as avocado, olive, palm, walnut, flaxseed and coconut oil. Unrefined oils have not been processed with heat, which can diminish their nutrient value. These oils are also considered good sources of healthy fat. Avoid processed vegetable oils like canola, corn, sunflower, safflower, peanut and soy oil — all of which are prohibited on the paleo diet.
Paleo chips features
Since paleo chips are largely plant-based, opt for one containing organic ingredients. This means they’re free from harmful agrochemicals, like pesticides or herbicides.
While the paleo diet is meat-based, paleo chips themselves tend to be vegan (with the exception of pork rinds) since the paleo diet excludes dairy. This means they contain no animal products whatsoever.
Another designation to look for is a non-GMO label. This means none of the crops were genetically modified – GMO stands for genetically modified organism – a technology that our cave-dwelling ancestors certainly didn’t have access to.
No added sugar
Another no-no on the paleo diet is refined sugar. If you’re following a strict paleo diet, be sure your paleo chips don’t contain added sugar in their ingredient list. The paleo diet does permit non-refined sugar sources such as maple syrup, raw honey and stevia.
Paleo chips cost
On average, paleo chips are more costly than regular chips. A two- to five-ounce bag of paleo chips ranges from $3.50-$5.50.
Paleo chips FAQ
Can you eat potato chips on a paleo diet?
A. It depends on who you ask. Some people consider unprocessed potatoes to be permissible on a paleo diet, while others consider them to have too high of a glycemic index (they can spike blood sugar levels) to be allowed. In general, potato chips are typically made with oils that are not permitted on the paleo diet, such as corn, canola or soybean oil, which does not make them paleo-friendly.
What are the health benefits of a paleo diet?
A. Randomized trials compared the paleo diet to other diets that showed its benefits include weight loss, improved appetite management and improved blood pressure and blood sugar control. The grain-free diet is also popular for people with autoimmune diseases.
What is the difference between a paleo diet and keto diet?
A. The main difference is that the paleo diet excludes dairy while the keto diet permits it. While they both restrict legumes and grains, the keto diet restricts them due to their high carb content, whereas the paleo diet excludes them completely because of the probability that early humans weren't eating them before the advent of agriculture.
Which paleo chip should I get?
Best of the best paleo chips
Barnana Organic Plantain Chips, Himalayan Pink Salt: available at Amazon
Our take: These popular plantain chips are healthy and will satiate your chip cravings.
What we like: Barnana's plantain chips only contain three ingredients: organic plantains, organic coconut oil and Himalayan salt. They contain healthier ingredients than most plantain chips and are also vegan-friendly. Their texture is thick and crunchy.
What we dislike: These paleo chips are too salty for some taste buds, but just right for others.
Best bang for your buck paleo chips
Siete Sea Salt Grain Free Tortilla Chips: available at Amazon
Our take: A low-cost alternative to tortilla chips made from cassava flour instead of grains.
What we like: These grain-free tortilla chips receive high marks for authentic-tasting flavor and texture. They can be eaten by people on autoimmune and other very restrictive diets. The chips are thin and crispy and perfect for dipping in salsa or guac, and for making nachos.
What we dislike: Because these chips are on the thin side, they can break easily and can even arrive broken in the bag.
Honorable mention paleo chips
Epic Artisanal Oven Baked Pork Rinds, Pink Himalayan Sea Salt: available at Amazon
Our take: These oven-baked pork skins are a healthy alternative to conventional pork rinds.
What we like: The pork in these pork rinds is antibiotic-free and pasture-raised. This crunchy snack is high in protein and low in carbs, making them keto-friendly, as well. Their minimal ingredient list includes Himalayan salt for flavor and no oil, and they can be ground or crushed for recipes.
What we dislike: A bag of these artisanal rinds come at a premium price tag.
Ana Sanchez is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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