The untold truth of Sun Chips

When you're in need of a break and craving something salty and satisfying, a bag of chips is often one of the best options you can reach for as you unwind. Sun Chips, in particular, seem just right for such occasions. As per the brand's official website, the chips first made their way to stores around 30 years ago. Their vision was pretty straightforward: creating a snack made with whole grains that tastes great. Some of the company's offerings include Harvest Cheddar, Garden Salsa, French Onion, and of course, Sun Chips Original.

The brand prides itself on offering "one-of-a-kind deliciousness" and is particularly keen on letting its customers know that their chips are made from 100 percent whole grains, a fact that probably appeals to health-conscious customers. The nutritional info on Sun Chips product pages also serves as an advertisement. Take the brand's French Onion flavor, for example. The nutrition facts not only inform you of the fat content (6 grams) but that a one-ounce serving of these chips has 30 percent less fat than "regular potato chips." They are also free of artificial flavors and preservatives, and according to the company, they're heart-healthy. But even Sun Chips might have a dark cloud or two. 

Sun Chips live up to their name

As highlighted by Eat This, Not That!, Sun Chips were first conceptualized in 1991 by Frito-Lay and managed to earn a loyal fan following. With their signature texture and the fact that they're healthier than potato chips, consumers were enticed by this snack. Frito-Lay takes the brand's identity seriously. For example, in 2008, the company decided to work on a solar power plant to stop being so dependent on coal-powered electricity. "Frito-Lay is utilizing innovative technologies and renewable energy such as solar power to help minimize our impact on the environment," Thomas Melead, technical manager, Frito-Lay Modesto said in 2010 (via PR News Wire.)

This was a good move not only for the environment but for the brand. Consumers were increasingly concerned about purchasing sustainable products. And the Sun Chips brand could now stay true to its name because its chips are made with the help of the sun. It's a win-win. 

Sun Chips might not be as healthy they sound

While Sun Chips are healthier than some of their peers, they might not be as wholesome as they seem. After conducting its own analysis, the advocacy group GMO Free USA determined in 2015 that the company used genetically modified corn to make its chips (via Prevention). The group also detected the weed-killing chemical glyphosate, which is an ingredient in the herbicide Roundup. While the health implications for Sun Chips aren't clear, existing research had tied Roundup to birth defects, different forms of cancer, and DNA damage, among other issues.

As explained by Eat This, Not That!, the chips also contain maltodextrin, which is connected with genetically modified corn and has been found to cause gastrointestinal problems for some people. Overall, the amount of sodium contained in a single serving – as much as 140 milligrams for some flavors and 170 milligrams in the case of Harvest Cheddar - and their non-negligible amount of fat per serving also keep this snack from being a nutritional winner. As a Reddit user pointed out, these chips should still be considered junk food. They wrote, "Sun [Chips] are still chips full of salt and added stuff. Make your own chips with apples, bananas, sweet potato, whatever fruits and veggies you have on hand." Makes sense.