Potato chip giant Frito-lay says by the end of the year, it will be making half its snacks sold in the U.S. with only natural ingredients.
The Wall Street Journal reportsFrito-Lay will ditch monosodium glutamate and about three dozen other artificial ingredients in more than 60 snack varieties. Lay's flavored potato chips, Tostitos tortilla chips, multigrain SunChips and Rold Gold pretzels are all being remade, as well, says the paper.
Strangely enough, the company will not advertise that it is reducing sodium by 25 percent in many of its snacks because consumers may equate "healthy" to "unpalatable."
And it won't be converting its Doritos and Cheetos brands to all-natural ingredients. "Those products, with bold flavors, are harder to retool and are marketed to teens and other consumers who might be turned off if told the chips were all natural," says the WSJ.
Nutritionists and industry critics say "making snacks with natural ingredients doesn't necessarily make them healthy."
"It's not that the manufacturer isn't telling the truth," Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D., a New York City-based weight-loss expert and author of "Read It Before You Eat It," told NBC New York over the phone. "You just have to put it into perspective."
Taub-Dix said changes had already been happening in response to changing USDA dietary guidelines, and to increasing savvy among shoppers.
"If you know these [Frito-Lay] chips are healthier for you than others, this could be a better choice," said Taub-Dix. "But you maybe you need to think about having chips as a snack all the time."
In the end, it's up to the consumer to make educated decisions. If they want to continue snacking on chips, there are always better choices that could be made.
"Baked chips, whole-grain chips -- maybe even do a combo, the best of all these situations," suggested Taub-Dix. "Try hummus and carrots with the chips, and zucchini sticks. Maybe dip a few healthier things that you're not getting enough of." Almonds also make a good alternative, she said; 23 pieces contain protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E and is a satisfying snack.