Are Grain Waves Healthy? All Your Questions Answered…

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Grain Waves are one of the popular brands of chips in Australia, and one reason for this is that they have a healthy image. But are Grain Waves really healthy? We took a look…

Article Reviewed by Clinical Nutritionist Jennifer May. See more about her and how we ensure article accuracy here.

Summary

Are Grain Waves Healthy?

Pros

Grain Waves have a 3.5 health star rating which is moderately healthy

They are higher in fibre than normal chips

They have 30 percent less fat than normal chips and fewer calories

Cons

They do have more sugar than normal chips

They do contain preservatives and additives

They’re not a carrot!

That might be enough to make your decision for you – but if not read on, to find out exactly how healthy Grain Waves might be – and how they might fit into your healthy eating plan.

Pile of grain waves on a plate

What Are Grain Waves?

Grain Waves describe themselves as a multigrain snack and, unlike traditional chips, they are not made from potatoes.

Instead, Grain Waves are made from whole wheat, corn and oats.

The grain content of Grain Waves is one reason why they currently have a 3.5 health star rating from the Government – we should be eating more wholegrains in our diet.

According to the Government, a 3.5 Star Health Rating means that Grain Waves are among the healthier options in the ‘chip’ category. It doesn’t mean they are as good as, say, an apple or some carrot sticks, but they are better than chips with a lower health star rating.

Are Grain Waves Healthier Than Chips/Crisps?

Chances are that you’re consuming Grain Waves to try and make a healthier choice at points in the day when you would normally eat chips – that might be as a quick snack, or, to accompany something like a sandwich.

When looking at the question of whether Grain Waves are healthy, therefore, it’s not really fair to compare them to, a plate of carrot sticks (they’ll lose) but, a much fairer comparison is to see how they stack up against a serving of ready-salted potato chips? So, let’s do that…

Fibre Content for Grain Waves vs. Chips

One of the selling points of Grain Waves is that they are 65 per cent whole grains. Potatoes have many good things about them, but they’re not whole grains.

What this means is that Grain Waves are slightly higher in fibre than normal chips (most of the fibre in a potato is in the skin and normal chips don’t use the skin).

A serving of Cheddar Grain Waves contains 1.8g of fibre – Smiths Ready Salted Chips have just under 1g per 27g serving.

How Many Calories are in Grain Waves?

There are 135 calories (565kj) per suggested 28g serving of Grain Waves.

However, remember, Grain Waves come in much bigger bags than that.

A whole 170g packet of Grain Waves contains 819 calories (3434kj) – so watch how many you’re taking out.

A 28g portion of Grain Waves is just 12 chips and there are 6 servings a packet (gulp, we’ve been feeling proud when we manage three in this house!).

That means one Grain Wave contains around 11 calories (46kj) – should you need to count them for any reason!

This is one portion of Grain Waves

Calories in Grain Waves vs Chips

In comparison, a 170g bag of Smith’s Crinkle Cut Crisps contains 924 calories (3884kj) and a single suggested serving of 27g has 146 calories (617kj)

So, if you can stick to the correct portion you will save about 11 calories picking Grain Waves over Smiths.

Are Grain Waves Baked or Fried?

Grain Waves don’t expressly state if they are baked or fried, but they do contain sunflower oil somewhere in the mix, and that means that Grain Waves do contain some fat – around 6.2g per 28g serving.

Compare that to our crinkle-cut friends though who have 9.4g per 27g serving and you can see that Grain Waves’ on-pack claim that they contain 30 per cent less fat than crisps is correct.

However, because both brands use sunflower oil in their production processes, both Grain Waves and Crinkles only contain 0.6g of saturated fat which is the one you’re most commonly advised to avoid.

So actually, they’re about even on this one.

Normal chips do contain 0.1g of another fat you want to avoid called transfat though – and Grain Waves don’t have any of this.

How Much Salt is in Grain Waves?

Like all chips, they’ve got salt in them – 98-106 mg of sodium per serving depending on which flavour you choose.

Our crinkle-cut chip comparison though contains 150mg of sodium, so again, you’re getting less of something that’s best avoided if you pick Grain Waves over normal chips.

What About Sugar?

One not-so-good thing about Grain Waves compared to normal chips is that they do contain more sugar, up to 2.3g per packet – which is confusing as chips are a savoury snack – and the amount of sugar in Grain Waves is far higher than the 0.3g in a normal packet of chips.

Flavourings and Additives

Lastly, Grain Waves says they use natural colours and flavourings. However, these do cause the ingredients to add up – a packet of Cheddar Grain Waves, for example, contains 20 different ingredients.

That’s compared to the eight in a packet of ready-salted crisps. Admittedly cheese-flavoured chips would contain more flavourings which may increase the ingredient list so this might not be a really fair comparison.

Packets of Grain Waves on an Australian supermarket shelf - the different flavours are green packets for Sour Cream & Chives, yellow for Chedder and red for Sweet Chill

So Are Grain Waves Healthy?

Again, let’s reiterate that they aren’t as good as accompanying your lunch with some celery sticks or some cherry tomatoes, but compared to a normal bag of potato chips, they are generally better for you with fewer calories, salt and overall fat. The fact that they are wholegrain-based and contain more fibre is another bonus.

The downside of Grain Waves is that they tend to come in large, family-size bags, and they are very, very moreish so, depending on how many of them you eat you could negate some of the benefits of buying a smaller bag of another brand.

If, like me, you have zero willpower, you might want to bag them up into individual portions rather than letting yourself lose on the whole bag in one go.

For more details on healthy portion sizes of foods like chips, hot chips, ice cream etc, have a look at our guide to normal serving sizes.

What’s the Healthiest Flavour of Grain Waves?

So, now you’ve seen how Grain Waves stack up against a packet of crisps, how do the specific Grain Wave flavours stack up against each other?

There really isn’t a lot in it as they all have very similar nutritional breakdowns … but if you really want to get specific, here are the exact numbers for each of the three flavours per 28g serving…

FlavourCaloriesFatSaturatesSugarsSalt
Cheddar1356.2g0.6g1.9g98mg
Sour Cream and Chives1356.2g0.6g1.8g105mg
Sweet Chilli1346.0g0.5g2.3g106mg

So, if you’re looking for the lowest fat then choose Sweet Chilli, if you’re more worried about sugar or salt, pick the Sour Cream ones but there really isn’t a huge amount in it.

Grain Waves and Specific Diets

So what’s the verdict on Grain Waves if you’re not eating a non-restricted diet, but what if you are avoiding certain ingredients – will they also work for you then …?

Are Grain Waves Good For Weight Loss?

No one food is good or bad for weight loss, it’s your diet overall that matters – but, if you’re trying to slim down how easy are Grain Waves going to make things?

Well, personally, I’m marking them down because they come in such huge bags and so it’s easy to over-serve them.

When writing this, I doled out my normal portion of a large handful, and discovered that was about 14 crisps (not too far off the suggested 12) but, I usually eat another 5-6 or six while I’m making my sandwich or putting the pack away. I ate about nine just taking the photos for this piece!

However, I do that with normal chips as well so, let’s be fair and mark Grain Waves against a common competitor Smith’s Crinkle Cut chips.

Remember, a whole 170g bag of Grain Waves contains 819 calories (3434kj) and there are 135 calories (565kj) per suggested 28g serving of Grain Waves.

In comparison, a 170g bag of Smith’s Crinkle Cut Crisps contains 924 calories (3884kj) and a single suggested serving of 27g has 146 calories (617kj)

So, if you can stick to the correct portion you will save about 11 calories picking Grain Waves over Smiths.

In that respect Grain Waves could help you reach your goal (ever so slightly) faster than picking up another bag of crisps – but, they still won’t be as good as a handful of celery or carrot sticks, which are better choices all round if you’re looking to add crunch but cut your calories.

Are Grain Waves Gluten-Free?

With wheat as their second biggest ingredient and oats as the third, unfortunately, Grain Waves aren’t gluten-free.

Their allergy information states they contain wheat, gluten, milk and soy so they aren’t suitable for anyone with an allergy to any of those.

Are Grain Waves Vegan?

They state they are suitable for vegetarians but the fact that all the flavours contain milk means they can’t be classed as vegan I’m afraid.

If you have a British shop near you though, have a look there for Walkers Sunbites which are the British version of Grain Waves.

When we did a similar analysis of those, we discovered that the Sweet Chilli Sunbites in the UK are listed on the PETA Accidentally Vegan list as, even though they don’t proclaim themselves as vegan, they don’t use milk, or any other animal product in their ingredients.

The other UK flavours do so you have to get the Sweet Chilli ones.

Are Grain Waves FODMAP-Friendly?

Most testing of products to determine if a food is FODMAP-friendly is done at Monash University, but according to their app, they haven’t specifically rated Grain Waves yet – but, because wheat is a high FODMAP food you might not be able to consume them if you have issues with fructans.

However, wheat isn’t the biggest ingredient – it only makes up 23 per cent of the ingredients. Corn is actually the main ingredient in Grain Waves – and, that and the oats in the mix might help reduce the effects.

Oats and corn are classed as low FODMAP foods and because they reduce the amount of wheat in each snack, you might be able to have a few without setting off symptoms.

Also, watch out for the milk powders if you have an issue with lactose.

So, there you have it – our analysis as to whether Grain Waves are healthy or not. Again, if you have a hankering for crisps they’re not a bad choice – but, ideally, you should be reaching for the carrot sticks first (said the person who now has an open bag of them downstairs and some rather crunchy plans for the evening!)

What to Read Next?

How about checking out our guides to the lowest carb wraps in Australia? Or, if you prefer to count calories we’ve also ranked all the brands of wrap by their calories/kilojoules. Find the lowest one here.

If you eat out a lot, you might also want to check out our calorie guides section – we’ve found the best low calorie options to order in all your Aussie favourites like Mad Mex, Guzman & Gomez and Grill’d.


Who is The Wellness Nerd?

My name is Helen Foster, and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail, and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.

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