Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Banana Chips: Healthy or Not?

Greetings wellness lovers!

And happy spring! I know that I am not the only person excited about the change of season!

The warmer weather naturally makes me want lighter foods... less hot chocolate, more fresh juice. Less nuts, and more dried bananas?! Well, maybe...

Trader Joe's Banana Chips... healthy?

Today I have some questions about (what could be) my new favorite product, from Trader Joe's. Trader Joe's: Banana Chips. They are highly delicious and addicting... and it's quite a challenge to limit yourself to just one serving. But before I start buying them like crazy, and recommending them as a healthy snack to my clients, family, and friends... I have some questions.

1. The package claims that the banana chips are "dried fruit", but is that actually how they were made? Or are the bananas technically fried?
2. What specific kind of organic coconut oil is in the product? (ie. Is it refined? Or is it cold-pressed virgin?)

I've contacted the company regarding this, and am eagerly awaiting their response. In the meantime, I thought that perhaps one of my fellow health-nutrition-minded foodies might already have found the answers...

Obviously, the answers to these questions will dramatically change the 'health status' of this brilliant product.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that these banana chips are indeed dried/dehydrated with organic cold-pressed virgin coconut oil. I greatly appreciate any information you may know/have on these!

And, I will let you know when I hear back from Trader Joe's!

Have a great day!



  1. Hmm gut instinct tells me they aren't both the best oils AND dehydrated... too good to be true! Let me know what they say! Have you tried dehydrating them yourself? I bet that'd be easy and pretty cheap....

    1. Hahaha... your gut instinct is probably right. I kind of feel like it's asking too much. I have not yet tried dehydrating them; I am going to try freeze drying them first! I will definitely keep you posted. :)

    2. Trader Joe's Banana Chip product update!

      Here is the correspondence I received from Trader Joe's Customer Relations regarding their banana chip product:

      "Thank you for your email. Although Banana Chips are marketed in the Dried Fruit section and part of our Dried Fruit product labeling, it is actually fried, as they are for most retailers. The coconut oil used is never refined."

      Well... I had a feeling, but thank you @Trader Joes for clarifying. Personally, I believe that marketing the product as "dried fruit" (with no indication of it being fried on the packaging) may be a little misleading to customers, just saying.

      Anyways, in case anyone else was as curious about this as I was... now we know!

    3. Where did you find the customer relations? I thought it would be good to ask them what temperature they fry them at.

    4. But what are NATURAL FLAVORINGS, which is a listed ingredient..?? I am questioning this because last night I ate 1/3 bag of these went to the emergency room with hives (also a hard time breathing) and not only at age 59 have I ever not been to an ER but have never had hives either. I don't know what or why I got hives. Am questioning what the possibilities are. I ate these about an hour before the incident.

    5. shopping at Trader Joe's means you know absolutely nothing about a healthy diet

  2. I knew they are fried, but they are still a better choice than chemical filled snacks. :) And hey, they still have some fiber!

    1. Hi Emily! Yes, that is very true! At least they are organic, aka "real food." P.S. Thank you for visiting my blog! :)

  3. Thanks for the post. I just bought these on a whim the other day at TJ, and was also wondering if this addicting snack was as healthy as the packaging made it seem. I'm glad you investigated! I agree with Emily that these are a better alternative than the chemical filled snacks.

    1. Hi Vance! Yes, I definitely agree with you and Emily that they are better than chemical filled snacks. And, luckily... coconut oil can be heated to higher temperatures than most other commonly used oils (and still be healthy). But I have not been able to find any evidence to convince me that frying with it is a great idea. I will post an update if/when I learn anything! :)

  4. Banana chips nutrition facts:

    The good: This food is very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Manganese, high in fiber.
    The bad: This food is high in Saturated Fat.

    Total fat 29g – 44%
    Saturated fat 25g – 123%
    Cholesterol – 0%
    Carbohydrate 50g – 17%
    Dietary fiber 7g – 26%
    Sugar 30g
    Protein 2g

    Vitamin A 1%
    Vitamin C 9%
    Calcium 2%
    Iron 6%

    Baked banana chips is definitely better than fried, less oil, less fat. Here in the Philippines, it's a major business is Quezon province where you can find most of the banana plantations. It's still considered healthy compared to potato fries and other chips loaded with monosodium glutamate (MSG) flavorings. Just eat enough serving each time. =)

    1. Hello! Yes, you are definitely correct about bananas being low in sodium, high in manganese and fiber... and actually containing no cholesterol. However, the saturated fat from coconuts is actually beneficial. The only issue I have with it in this case is that it's fried.

      If you (or anyone else) is interested in reading about the many health-promoting benefits of coconut oil, I recommend reading:

      "Eat Fat, Lose Fat" by Mary Enig & Sally Fallon
      "Coconut Cures" by Bruce Fife
      "The Coconut Oil Miracle" by Bruce Fife & Jon Kabara

      Thank you for visiting my website! :)

  5. So funny - I just bought the Trader Joe's organic banana chips last night on my home from Cycling class. I ripped the bag open in the car & counted out 13 chips (serving size). 13 banana chips looks like a lot in your hand, but it's SO hard to stop when they're gone! Needless to say I continued eating them & probably ended up consuming about 3 servings *oops*! Anyways I got into work today and Googled "Are banana chips healthy" and I found this. EXACTLY what I was looking for. Thanks for the info, Ashley!

    1. You are welcome! Thank you for visiting my blog! xoxo

  6. So as I'm eating away at one of two bags of these TJ organic banana chips I'm wondering if they were indeed truly a healthy snack. Man I wish I would of Googled this after I finished eating them!

  7. if u are ok with eating a serving of EVCO, why would it matter if it was fried? if u ate a banana and a TBPN of EVCO, ppl would be applauding.

    1. Frying denatures oil, causing it to become toxic to the body. The question is... what is the exact temperature at which coconut oil becomes denatured? If you happen to find this out, please let me know! :)

    2. Until we know that answer, we can be heartened (pun intended) that it can be heated to higher temps. than most other oils and remain healthy.

  8. These bananna chips are the bomb! Thanks for your informative blog!

  9. I have been told my cholesterol is 7.3 and my low is 4.7
    I was looking at banana chips to satisfy my snacking are they ok for my situation?
    Robyn from New Zealand

  10. In reference to your previous post, Ashley " Frying denatures oil".... I found this for you....as I love Trader Joes, and their banana chips but in moderation :)  and I use coconut oil cold, hot, and for a moisturizer and hair :)  "Will cooking with Coconut Oil cause it to become hydrogenated and toxic like hydrogenated oils?"
    No. Hydrogenation is an industrial process where hydrogen molecules are introduced to the oil to make it solid at room temperatures. It chemically alters the oil and creates harmful trans fatty acids. Cooking with coconut oil does NOT introduce hydrogen into the oil or hydrogenate it. Coconut oil is a very stable oil even at higher temperatures. However, it is best not to cook beyond the smoke point of coconut oil, as this will begin to deteriorate the oil and turn it yellow. Once it has turned dark yellow, the oil should be discarded and no longer used. The smoke point of coconut oil can be increased by combining it with Palm Shortening or Virgin Palm Oil. Both of these oils have a much higher smoke point, and are suitable for high heat, such as deep frying......more info at http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/faq.htm#19

  11. thanks for this post!!

  12. All that Saturated Fat is horrible for your arteries. The saturated fat becomes LDL which sticks right on your arteries as plaque- it prevents the HDL from working properly (HDL prevents plaque build-up).

    This isn't a healthy snack.

    1. Hi! Thanks for stopping by!

      While your claims have been the 'mainstream' school of thought on saturated fat for years, you may be interested in spending some time researching the validity of those statements as well as the research that 'supports' them.

      Here are some interesting links to get you started:

      Video: "Big Fat Lies" (The saturated fat myth debunked in 2 minutes and 35 seconds) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8WA5wcaHp4

      Article: "Know Your Fats" by Sally Fallon http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/skinny-on-fats

      Hopefully you will find these enlightening! :)

  13. The smoke point of (unrefined) coconut oil is 350 degrees. TJ's banana chips would have an off or burnt taste if the coconut oil reached its smoking point (yes I'm just guessing but it's educated :)

  14. Hello Ashley!
    I recently got some banana chips, and I didn't like them when I first got them, but now they've really grown on me!
    I have read all these articles about how banana chips are bad and may make you gain wait, but I am underweight and I want to know if they can help you gain weight HEALTHILY.
    I got my banana chips from a market which the Amish come and sell their products. All Amish are different, but these ones use commercial ovens and I think I've seen them using heresheys syrup. The ingredients on their banana chips say "bananas, coconut oil," but I have no way of finding out how good that coconut oil is.
    The banana chips I have don't have nutrition facts, so if in fact they are okay, and good for Gaining weight healthily, how many chips should I have in a serving?
    Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  15. hehehe.. So did we talk ourselves into TJ's banana chips being healthy? I hope so because they are deeeelish... I vote healthy! ;)

  16. i recently asked trader joes the question about what temperature the chips are fried at:

    Comments:As I understand it, the Organic Banana Chips are fried in coconut oil. I was curious to what temperature they are fried in. The smoke point of coconut oil is 350 degrees. If the oil is heated above that point, it degrades into a different fat composition. Thank you

    they replied:

    Hi Peter,

    Thank you for contacting us! Our Trader Joe's Organic Banana Chips are fried at a temperature of 280-320 degrees F for 10 minutes.

    Thanks again,

    Nicki K.
    Trader Joe's
    Customer Relations

    1. Hi Peter! Good to know... thank you for sharing what you learned from them!

  17. I just tried some today and I think these just might one top five best foods I've ever eaten. I scooped up small blobs of butter that I added extra sea salt to. Fat, sweet, salty AND crunchy. Like potato chips, but without the terrible carcinogenic overtemp'ed (smoked) vegetable oil. Better than cheesecake (although that's pretty close come to think of it. Mmmm key lime......argh...). Anyway, whether they are healthy or not, it sure is the best way to get a dessert right now and feel alive. Unbelievable how good they are. This must be what a heroine addiction feels like.

    Thank you for the info here. Maybe we can get TJ's to just bake them instead.

    The plain non-fried freeze-dried bananas are really really good too, as expected.

  18. Need more detail about Banana chips ? Contact www.bakerschips.com

  19. Hi Ashley,

    I actually was researching if baked banana chips are healthy snacks and came across your article. I know your talking about TJ chips here but I was wondering what your thoughts are on baking your own chips instead of buying store bought ones. If you baked them, then are they healthy for you? Is any nutrients lost by baking them? I would imagine the increase in fat from bagged chips is due to them being fried, so if their baked does that mean there is no increase in fat? Thanks!

  20. Omg.. so i came back to work and my manager told me they were fried! Makes total sense since they are CRUNCHY -__- the actual dried ones are the chewy ones. Thanks for sharing!

  21. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6o21B7Y6VQ try this recipe if you want to try home made chips i have tried and its too good.