Here's Why You Should Think Twice Before Eating Pita Chips

You've got a hankering for junk food. It happens. What you really want is a big bag of oily potato chips — the kind that will leave your fingers greasy and covered with golden, salty flakes — but, you manage to resist the craving, opting for a different chip. Pita chips would seem like a healthy alternative when you've got an intense junk food craving. Pita bread...isn't that something healthy people eat, with their Greek salads and grilled shish kabobs?

Well, according to Robin Miller, a nutritionist, chef, and food writer, it's understandable why these chips are so appealing. "When you're looking for a 'dunker' for things like hummus and spinach-artichoke dip, the heft of pita chips reigns supreme, surpassing weak alternatives like potato chips, tortilla chips, and airy crackers," she says. And while many nutrition experts advise going for raw veggies when you have a craving for something crunchy, Miller admits, "The fine layer of salt on each toasty wedge is much more satisfying than a baby carrot." Unfortunately, though, most store-bought pita chips are not actually a healthy alternative — here's why.

Pita chips aren't actually healthier than potato chips

Miller is mystified that people think pita chips are a healthy alternative to any other type of chip. "If you're snacking on crunchy wedges of pita in an effort to dodge the fat and calories found in other chips, take note. Flip over the bag and compare the pita chip nutrition label to that of potato chips and/or tortilla chips and you'll find that it's hard to tell the difference," she says. "Since pita chips are made with refined white flour, oil, salt, and sugar, nutritionally speaking, they're no better than other nutrient-devoid snacks on the market. In fact, at least when you eat potato chips, you're eating a vegetable."

Miller did a side-by-side comparison of the macros of pita chips compared to tortilla chips. A one-ounce serving of pita chips — about seven to ten chips — delivers 130 calories, five grams of fat, 19 grams of carbohydrates, three grams of protein, and 270 milligrams of sodium. If you were to have about the same number of corn tortilla chips, you'd be taking in 140 calories, seven grams of fat, 19 grams of carbohydrates, two grams of protein, and 115 milligrams of sodium. "When you compare the two, most numbers are pretty similar; pita chips have slightly less fat, but more than double the amount of sodium," Miller said. "I'm not sure why pita chips have been touted as a 'nutritious' snack," she added. "They should be assigned to the 'sometimes' category."

Healthier ways to feed your pita chip craving

Maybe you haven't been seeking out pita chips because you thought they were more diet-friendly, but because you just enjoy them as a snack. Fair enough — man (or woman) cannot live on potato chips alone! Fortunately, there are healthier ways to enjoy this treat, according to Miller. "If pita chips are the one thing you crave, choose baked not fried, and seasoned, not salted," she advises.

Or take matters into your own hands and treat yourself to fresh-out-of-the-oven pita chips. "You can easily make baked pita chips that are just as satisfying as their fried counterparts," Miller points out. "Simply cut pita pockets into wedges, brush with olive oil and spread out on a baking sheet. Season the pita wedges with salt and, if desired, season with black pepper and ground cumin. Bake at 400 degrees [Fahrenheit] for five to ten minutes, until golden brown and crisp."