Let’s face it: today snacking is the bane of most people’s diet! We try to eat and live healthily and mostly succeed in doing so, but the temptation of spicy, greasy potato chips are like kryptonite for our bodies. At the same time, this is why we should continuously look for healthier alternatives and the increasing popularity of the halal-certified snack market in recent times should be enough to consider your options.
Halal just means permitted, or “good” to some. Many people abide by the Halal dietary guidelines and stay away from food that is not Halal. Particularly to stay away from foods like pork and alcohol which are not Halal. The supply of halal-certified products is booming right now, spearheaded by the likes of the American Halal Company, whose Saffron Road brand is now available in 8,00r 0 retail stores across America. You may have noticed the word “halal” with the increased popularity of The Halal Guys or even of certification on various food products, wondered what it meant and possibly whether the products are healthier than the average non-halal products.
Well, let’s consider some facts and examples before deciding if halal certified snacks are worth your time:
Are halal snacks healthier?
Not inherently. It is absolutely not a problem to produce an unhealthy product that is still halal. But since the halal philosophy is far more wide-reaching than avoiding pork, there may be some merit to the idea that at least halal certified products are healthier.
For meat to be halal, the animals must be fed a strict vegan diet, and they cannot be treated with antibiotics or growth hormones since the latter often contains pork-based or other non-halal ingredients. That alone eliminates a lot of the health hazards we are faced with when consuming conventionally raised meat products. Halal also bans the use of some very common pork based additives like gelatin and shortenings and of course also alcohol – none of which contributes to making your snacks healthy.
Brands like Saffron Road are also trailblazing in positioning their halal certified products as a healthier alternative. They want to expand their market to non-halal consumers because even though the Muslim population in the US is growing fast and even faster-regarding market power, there is a need for good products in other population segments too.
In the case of Saffron Road, most of their halal products are also certified organic, non-GMO or gluten-free. With these certifications, it becomes even more meaningful to talk about healthier alternatives, and they are helping fuel the perception that halal is the new health food trend.
But the proof is in the pudding, or perhaps the chips… so let’s have a look at three popular halal certified snacks and see how they stack up:
1. Saffron Road – Crunchy Chickpeas
These deliciously crunchy chickpeas come in 5 flavors, and they are seriously addictive. Fortunately, they are also very healthy, one ounce of these only pack around 120 calories.
More importantly, chickpeas are extremely healthy. They are an excellent source of folate, fiber, and manganese and, almost all of us need to eat more legumes, and crunchy chickpeas are a great start.
2. Enjoy Life – Plentils Chips
As the name suggests, these chips are made from lentils rather than potatoes. All legumes are healthy and red lentils, in particular, are very healthy. At 130 calories per ounce, they also clock in a lot healthier and with less salt and fat compared to normal chips. If you look at the ingredients, you will also notice that they are not filled with artificial colorings, flavors or other additives. To make sure that these lentil chips live up to halal standards, Enjoy Food have also elected to make Plentils chips both GMO-free and certified organic. Plentils are more processed than the crunchy chickpeas and calling them healthy is a bit of a stretch, but they are definitely a healthier alternative to traditional chips and well worth a try.
3. Seneca Farms Blue & Orange Sweet Potato Chips
These awesome, halal certified chips are a mix of blue potatoes and sweet potatoes. This means they are bursting with beta-carotenes, so much that a 1 ounce serving of these chips will cover 90% of your daily need for vitamin A, along with an average amount of vitamin C. At the same time, the 1-ounce serving contains 150 calories and quite a bit of fat. So like all other chips they are not healthy, but they are certainly healthier than conventional chips. Being halal certified they are also 100% vegan and free of artificial additives, colors, and flavors.
Now, what if we compare these three snacks to some conventional chips such as:
Doritos Nacho Cheese
The Doritos have the same calorie count as the Seneca Farm chips, but in every single other category, they are worse. In fact, they are devoid of any nutritional value regarding vitamins or minerals. They are full of salt and a mile-long list of problematic ingredients such as the suspected carcinogen MSG, artificial coloring and GMO corn.
Bon appetite! It’s easy to see why halal certified food is gaining traction.
Halal Snacks For Millennials
According to Saffron Road, 70% of their customers are non-Muslims. A lot of these customers are younger urban people aka the millennial. This consumer group prefers to know what’s in their food. They increasingly reject the highly processed and additive filled conventional food in favor of locally sourced, fresh organic produce.
Because halal certified products need to watch their supply chain closely to ensure that no non-halal ingredients get near their product, they often also source locally, from a sustainable or organic farm. And they obviously also exclude many of the additives, artificial flavors, and colorings that you find in other food.
As such there’s common ground between the people who want organic whole food and the Halal consumer who buys halal-certified products for religious reasons. Brands like Saffron Road are latching on to this by certifying many of their products as both organic, GMO-free and halal at the same time and thus helping drive halal towards being the next big health trend.
Should you consider trying halal snacks
It would be wrong to say that halal certified snacks are healthier just because they are halal. But it’s true that you are much more likely to find healthier alternatives among the halal-certified products, especially if you choose products that are also certified organic.
So if you have a craving for snacks, it might not be a bad idea to look for halal-certified products. You’ll be doing both your health, and the environment good. And you may just discover a new healthy flavor like the Falafel Chickpeas and wonder where they have been your whole life.