Crunchy versions of this leafy green vegetable are taking the chip aisle by storm. There’s no doubt kale is delicious and nutritious — but do its dried spin-offs live up to the hype?
We rated these leafy snacks on a 5-point scale (5 being highest) and judged them on taste, texture, price and nutrition, with special attention paid to stats such as calories and sodium. All of the brands were vegan and gluten-free, but none contained only kale. Most featured various spices and nuts, so it’s worth reading labels carefully, particularly for anyone who has food allergies.
Cost (per ounce) $4.49
Nutrition Info (1 ounce) 130 calories; 6 grams of fat; 270 milligrams sodium
The Healthy Eats Take: These bright green chips tasted more like kale than any of the other contenders. The “Sweet” variety has a touch of coconut and maple syrup for added flavor and crunch. On the downside, the chips are the most expensive of the bunch.
Brad’s Raw Leafy Kale (above)
Cost (per ounce) $3.19
Nutrition Info (1 ounce): 132 calories; 9 grams of fat; 146 milligrams sodium
The Healthy Eats Take: Sprinkled with vegan cheese, sunflower seeds and cashews, these chips got points for being flavorful without being overly salty. Also in their favor: full-size chips and a good level of crispiness. The brand is also certified organic.
Cost (per ounce) $2.99
Nutrition Info (1 ounce): 180 calories; 10 grams of fat; 200 milligrams sodium
The Healthy Eats Take: We sampled a few of the flavors, including Pineapple Coconut and Kool Ranch (all have similar nutrition info). The flavor was good — lots of suggestions of fresh kale — but there wasn’t quite enough crunch. Flavorings include sunflower seeds, lemon juice, tahini, honey and carrot powder and other spices.
New York Naturals
Cost (per ounce) $2.66
Nutrition Info (1 ounce) 138 calories; 10 grams of fat; 375 milligrams sodium
The Healthy Eats Take: Crunchy but super salty, these chips are crusted with an unappetizing coating of seasoning. The ingredient list is simple enough — kale, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast and salt — but a fair amount of the latter; this brand was the highest in sodium among the group.
Cost (per ounce) $2.72
Nutrition Info (1 ounce) 80 calories; 6 grams of fat; 230 milligrams sodium
The Healthy Eats Take: Although lowest in calories and fat, the very small pieces were hard to chew and tasted stale — a definite turn-off. Offerings for the brand include creative varieties such as Tarragon Dijon and Hibiscus & Pink Peppercorn — but the flavors didn’t deliver.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.