Sun Chips have been a favorite snack food for decades. But are they healthy?

Digital creator Matt Rosenman has made a career out of revealing just how clever marketing campaigns can be. He does so, in part, by showing that even the unhealthiest of foods can be made to appear nutritious. He starts by radically redesigning the branding or packaging of a known product, then highlights certain ingredients or nutritional content in a way that's technically accurate, though misleading. His rebranded video of Pop-Tarts becoming "Breakfast Power Pastries" is among his best work.

While Rosenman's audience knows not to take his rebranded products seriously, consumers of some of the most popular items in grocery stores are often deceived. For instance, researchers at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center have identified eight popular products that are commonly represented as being healthy, but really aren't. These include low-fat peanut butter, fat-free salad dressing, artificial meat, fast food smoothies, pre-packaged yogurt parfaits, frozen diet meals, pretzels and fiber bars.

Sun Chips are another food that is sometimes thought of as being healthier than it actually is.

What are Sun Chips?

Sun Chips are a brand of fried multigrain chips that are manufactured by Frito-Lay - one of seven major divisions of PepsiCo. Launched by the company in 1991, Sun Chips are known for their distinct texture, wavy design and popular flavors such as Harvest Cheddar, Garden Salsa, French Onion, and Original.

The chips are often marketed as a healthier alternative to potato chips, with phrases like "100% whole grain," "no artificial flavors or preservatives," and "heart healthy" covering the outside of their packaging.

Are Sun Chips healthy?

While these claims are accurate, the idea that Sun Chips are beneficial to one's health is a bit far-fetched. When looking at the Nutrition Facts label of a bag of Harvest Cheddar Sun Chips, for instance, you'll find that a single 1.5-ounce package contains 210 calories, 9 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 3 grams of added sugars, and 260 mg of sodium.

A 1.5-ounce bag of Lay's flavored potato chips, by contrast, has only 20 more calories than the Sun Chips, plus 30 more milligrams of sodium, 1 more gram of saturated fat, but has 1 gram less of added sugars. The flavored potato chips also happen to have the same amount of vitamin D (0 micrograms) and iron (.9 micrograms), but slightly less calcium (20 micrograms in the Sun Chips, 10 micrograms in the potato chips). However, the potato chips do have nominally more vitamin C and a lot more potassium (150 micrograms in the Sun Chips, 500 micrograms in the potato chips). Whether one is comparing the good nutrients here or the bad, "in the grand scheme of things, all these differences in the nutrition label are negligible," says Kristina Cooke, a registered dietitian with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Jen Messer, a nutrition consultant and registered dietitian at Jen Messer Nutrition, agrees. "Just one serving of Sun Chips can introduce a considerable amount of fat and sodium to your daily intake," she says.

She adds that it's also important to note that "Sun Chips are fried like traditional potato chips, not baked."

What are the healthiest chips to eat? All the salty details on baked, fried and homemade.

At the same time, Sun Chips do offer slightly more dietary fiber than flavored potato chips: 4 grams vs 2 grams. In the end, then, "Sun Chips may be a marginally better choice than some potato chips due to whole grains and potentially less fat, but they are not necessarily 'healthy' overall due to their processing and ingredients," says Messer.

What snacks are healthier alternatives?

Instead of eating too many of any chip brand or variety, Messer recommends healthier snack alternatives such as air-popped popcorn, roasted chickpeas, raw vegetables dipped in hummus, tzatziki, peanut butter and sliced bananas, or apple slices with nut butter.

For her part, Cooke suggests "pairing foods like chips - which are mostly carbohydrates and fat - with a source of protein and fiber." Doing so can help manage healthy blood sugar levels. "This might look like pairing a single serving of Sun Chips with a hardboiled egg and some baby carrots or a small handful of nuts," she offers.

Even without such pairing, one can still enjoy Sun Chips from time to time. "Most any food can fit into a healthy diet," says Cooke. "In the science community, we say 'it's the dosage that makes the poison,' so pay attention to the quantity you consume and the whole of your diet on a daily basis."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Are Sun Chips healthy? Plus alternative healthy snacks