While crunchy chips made from corn tortillas may seem like a healthy snack option, eating tortilla chips on a regular basis can cause negative side effects. Like other high-calorie, salty, fried foods, tortilla chips are best enjoyed in moderation. Side effects of eating too many tortilla chips include weight gain, water retention and an increased risk of developing or exacerbating chronic illnesses, such as heart disease or hypertension.
Tortilla chips typically consist of corn tortillas that have been cut, fried, salted and packaged for sale. While the corn tortilla itself can be part of a healthy diet for most individuals, the process of taking it from soft tortilla to crunchy corn snack adds many unhealthy elements. You will find tortilla chips everywhere from home parties to school lunches to the tables of chain and Mexican restaurants. While a couple of tortilla chips fit into most people's diets, many Americans should avoid the extra calories, fat and sodium.
Fried foods, such as tortilla chips, contain more calories and fat than other foods and can contribute to weight gain, obesity and the medical problems associated with carrying extra pounds around. The American Heart Association recommends severely limiting foods fried commercially, such as packaged fried tortilla chips, to reduce your risk of developing high cholesterol and high blood pressure. You should limit the amount of tortilla chips you eat to avoid the side effects of weight gain and heart disease.
Tortilla chips contain a significant amount of sodium. A 1-ounce serving of tortilla chips, just six chips, contains between 105 and 160 milligrams of sodium, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Healthy adults should strive to consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium daily, but adults who have high blood pressure should limit their daily sodium intake to less than 1,500 milligrams. If you consume too much sodium, you could be at risk of hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. If you are a high-risk individual and you consume just 12 tortilla chips, you will have consumed 20 percent of your daily sodium limit.
To make your tortilla chips healthier, cut up fresh corn tortillas and bake them in the oven until crisp. Use crushed tortilla chips as a garnish over salad or stews rather than eating an entire serving, or more, of chips. Swap half of your tortilla chips with cut-up vegetables, like bell pepper strips and cucumber wheels. When eating out at Mexican restaurants, ask your server to take away the complimentary basket of chips and salsa and save hundreds of calories on your dinner out.