I had the pleasure of some Simply Sprouted, Way Better Snacks, specifically the Sweet Chili Chips. They were quite tasty. Very sweet and moderately spicy at the same time provided a combination of flavors much lighter than most snack chips. The snacks were, in fact, way better than most.
I always like first to dig back into the company. What I found was that Way Better is a brand new (Sep 2011) competitor to Garden of Eatin which is a larger line of brands you’ve likely heard of (if not, see below). Jim Breen is the CEO and Founder and comes most recently from Hain Celestial, the parent company of Garden. Breen, in Way Better, has founded a new startup (on Facebook) that is impressive in its commitment to organic nutrition. All products are:
*All Natural * Vegan * Certified Gluten Free * Non GMO * Certified Kosher * Excellent Source of Whole Grains * Low Sodium * Never contain: Trans Fat, artificial colors, flavors or preservatives
“Antioxidants” are just vitamins, like Vitamins A and C. Twice 2% of the recommended daily value is still only 4%. Double sounds good, but the vitamin levels of the chips aren’t significant in absolute terms. 420mg of Omega 3s is more than most (Garden of Eatin Baked Blues – below, boast only 300mg). Omega 3s do have some health benefits. A serving and a half of Raw broccoli (if we assume 28g per serving would have 4.5% rdv of Vitamin A, 63% of Vitamin C, 1.5% of Calcium, and 1.5% of Iron, all for only 15 calories and 13.5 mg of sodium. The chips are a better source of Calcium and Iron, but also of calories, fat, and sodium, so I can’t support the claim that chips are better than broccoli.
Their several types of chips (above) all have very similar nutrition content. For a standard 28g serving of chips, each has 130 calories, (60-70 from fat), 6-7 fat grams (0.5 from saturated fat, no trans fats), 95-115 mg of Sodium, 14-16 g of carbs (2-3 from Fiber), 1-2 g of protein, and less than 5% for vitamins A, C, Calcium, or Iron. Of course none have Cholesterol. The only significant difference is that the No Salt Blues have no sodium at all.
For comparison, I looked at the vegan options at Garden of Eatin*, a company with vegan-friendly and organic chips that would compete directly with Way Better for your business (or vice versa). Way Better compared favorably with about 20% less salt and a few fewer grams of carbs, but otherwise the same nutrition label. But they are still chips in terms of nutrition. Neither brand had a chip that jumped out as particularly nutritious, but Way Better is all vegan all the time, so that’s enough to tip the scales for me.
Again, these are great chips, tasty and a bit healthier than other chips you might eat. They’re certainly way better than most non-vegan, non-organic chips. The packaging is a bit too plain for my taste. I noticed them in a Whole Foods “end-cap” feature placement but would have missed their minimalist packaging in the aisle. I would also like to see a “certified vegan” logo to add to the whole grain, gluten free, and non-gmo labels. If nothing else, just put a big V on the front. Way Better is all vegan as a product line, and that should be advertised. In addition, the serving size was tiny – only 5.5 servings per bag versus 7 or 9 normally. I guess, all things considered, there are some challenges, but the chips are tasty and as healthy or healthier than other chips. Eat up.
Seed sprouting, is the process of germinating the seed and than [sic] halting it’s growth just after the tail (sprout) begins to grow. This locks in vital nutrients which were created as enzymes were activated. The seed is than dehydrated.
What they’ve done is make a scientific claim that using the sprout, as opposed to the ungerminated seed or the fully-mature vegetable, has the maximum (or even magical) nutritional content. They imply there is some off-label benefit aside from the carbs, proteins, vitamins, and minerals already reported. This, theoretically, results from the fact that the sprout is in a growth stage and thus releasing its nutrients. Livestrong has a decent article, but there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of analysis of the claim, good or bad.
They did dedicate the first blog post on the site to sprouting. However, despite sprouting being on the label, above the name (Simply Sprouted), I found no scientific study referencing benefits. I would like to see more medical and nutritional information for such strong claims, but if nothing else, the sprouts are grown out of the ground rather than in a beaker, so that’s a good sign.
* Dear Way Better editors: FAQ’s should be FAQs and your nutrition labels should be “monounsaturated” not “monosaturated”. Also see [sic] above in the sprouting section.
** I reviewed Garden of Eatin chips Red Hot Blues (referred to as “crack” in my household), Baked Blues, Multigrain Everything, Whole Grain Pita Sea Salt, Black Bean Chili, and Beet and Carrot Veggie. These are the healthiest options Garden has to offer, so Way Better is compared against the best.
[Edit 2/21]: Way Better responded to this article on their Facebook page with the following comment:
Hi Jason – thank you for reviewing our chips! You have a great resource for the vegan community and we will take your comments to heart. We’ve also included a couple of links about the nutritional improvements seen when germination occurs with grains, seeds and beans. There are many perspectives on this – but we do believe that, nutritionally-speaking, there are many positive benefits to germinating seeds, grains and beans.
Author’s note: The pubmed article is one example of the scientific references I was asking for in the article.