America's unhealthiest packaged snack foods

Walking down the “snacks” aisle of a supermarket can be an ordeal for someone who’s watching his or her diet. So many of these processed items, whether sweet or savory, contain staggering amounts of fat and calories and are loaded with unpronounceable ingredients like disodium guanylate and sodium acid pyrophosphate.

Why, exactly, is America so hooked on junk food? Is it the sugar, the fat, the salt? Or maybe it’s the advertising and some sort of psychological addiction? Whatever the reason, we eat a lot of junk. Junk food comes in plenty of different varieties, and some contain more sugar, fat, and salt — more calories — than others.

While just about everything is okay to eat in moderation, most consumers don’t pay nearly enough attention to serving size and portion control. While a cookie or two won’t do much damage to your waistline, a package of 10 might max out your recommended allowance of fat for the entire day. Potato chips and tortilla chips are known for being high in fat, and packaged snack cakes and baked goods can contain a lot more of the bad stuff than you may realize. 

We’ve broken down the junk food aisle into 10 categories, and in each category we’ve found the worst offenders in terms of fat, sugar, salt, and calories. The next time you find yourself in the junk food aisle, you might just think twice before grabbing that Chex Mix, or any of the other favorites that made our list.

1. Potato Chips


Thicker chips, like Ruffles, and any chips flavored with cheese or other dairy products are often the ones with the most fat and calories.   

Ruffles Cheddar and Sour Cream (Serving size: 1 ounce, about 11 chips or 28 grams)
Fat: 10 grams
Calories: 160
Sodium: 180 milligrams

Pringles Xtra Screamin' Dill Pickle (Serving size: 1 ounce, about 16 chips or 28 grams)
Fat: 9 grams
Calories: 150
Sodium: 105 milligrams
Sugars: 1 gram

2. Tortilla Chips


While tortilla chips are lower in fat and calories than potato chips, they’re usually still fried and are certainly not healthy. Also, are you really going to stop eating after six chips?

Tostitos Hint of Lime (Serving size: 1 ounce, about 6 chips)
Fat: 7 grams
Calories: 150
Sodium: 125 milligrams
Doritos Toasted Corn Chips (Serving size: 1 ounce, about 13 chips or 28 grams)
Fat: 7 grams
Calories: 140
Sodium: 120 grams

3. Snack Mixes


 (General Mills)

Over-the-top sodium levels are especially common in snack mixes. The American Heart Association says that you should consume less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, so you can see that even these modest serving sizes can pack a wallop.
Chex Mix Bold Party Blend (Serving size: 1 cup)
Total fat: 9 grams
Calories: 240
Sodium: 400 milligrams

Cheez-It Snack Mix Double Cheese (Serving size: 3/4 cup or 30 grams)
Total Fat: 5 grams
Calories: 130
Sodium: 470 milligrams

4. Corn-Based Snacks


Highly processed corn contains little to no nutritional value, and once corn snacks are fried, loaded with sodium, and tossed in “cheese,” they become some of the unhealthiest things you can eat.
Fritos Original (Serving size: 32 chips or 28 grams)
Fat: 10 grams
Calories: 160
Sodium: 170 milligrams
Cheetos Flamin' Hot Crunchy (Serving size: 1 ounce, about 21 pieces or 28 grams)
Fat: 11 grams
Calories: 160
Sodium: 250 milligrams

5. Gummy Candy


Not only are these gelatin-based snacks full of empty calories, but the sugar content is through the roof, too.
Fruit Gushers Variety Pack 
(Serving size: 1 pouch, or 25 grams)
Fat: 1 gram
Calories: 90
Sodium: 45 milligrams
Sugars: 12 grams
Starburst GummiBursts (Serving size: 9 pieces, or 40 grams)
Fat: 0 grams
Calories: 130
Sodium: 40 milligrams
Sugars: 22 grams

Check out more unhealthy packaged foods.

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