If you're looking for a crunchy, salty snack, tortilla chips fit the bill. However, they aren't the healthiest snack option. In large quantities, tortilla chips can be fattening, and they're high in salt. Control portion size and how often you eat this snack to include them in a healthy eating plan.
While tortilla chips can be a satisfying crunchy snack, they aren't the healthiest choice. This food is high in sodium, and in large quantities, tortilla chips can be fattening.
Read more: 9 Better-for-You Potato Chip Swaps
Control Calories With Small Portions
According to Mayo Clinic, snacks typically account for 100 to 300 calories in a complete meal plan. This requires a good understanding of the calories in your snacks, whether its chips vs. crackers, or even fruit.
According to the USDA, 1 ounce of tortilla chips contains 140 calories. Check the nutrition facts label on the specific brand of tortilla chips you buy — it usually states the estimated number of chips in one serving.
Depending on the size of the tortilla chip, you may only be able to eat eight chips to stay within a 1-ounce portion. Eating out of a family-sized bag can make portion control difficult.
Tortilla Chips Can Be Fattening
The amount of fat you'll get per serving varies by brand, but 1 ounce of generic tortilla chips contains 7 grams of fat, according to the USDA.
In addition to keeping an eye on the total fat, check the nutrition facts label to be sure the brand you buy doesn't contain trans fats.
These fats are worse for your health than saturated fats because they increase bad cholesterol, lower good cholesterol and trigger inflammation, according to the Harvard Health Publications.
Watch the Sodium
You can enjoy the salty flavor if you stick with plain tortilla chips. They have 65 milligrams of sodium in a 1-ounce serving.
This amount easily works with your diet, as long as the total sodium in the rest of the foods you eat that day doesn't exceed the recommended daily intake of 2,300 milligrams, as recommended by the American Heart Association.
Flavored varieties are not healthy because they have more sodium. For example, the sodium in taco-flavored tortilla chips increases to 223 milligrams, according to the USDA. If you choose unsalted varieties, the sodium drops to about 4 milligrams per serving.
Read more: Why Are Chips Bad for You?
Choices to Consider
Yellow corn and white corn tortilla chips share about the same nutritional profile. While both types contain a small amount of nutrients, they have less than some other snacks.
Blue corn tortilla chips make a better choice because they're slightly higher in protein and provide at least double the calcium, iron and niacin. If you make your own tortilla chips, you can reduce the calories and fat.
- Harvard Health Publications: "The Truth About Fats: The Good, The Bad, and the In-Between"
- Mayo Clinic: "Nutrition and Healthy Eating"
- American Heart Association: "How Much Sodium Should I Eat Per Day?"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Snacks, Tortilla Chips, Taco-Flavor"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Tortilla Chips"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Snacks, Tortilla Chips, Unsalted, White Corn"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Blue Tortilla Chips"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Corn Tortilla"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Oil, Canola"