Packaged foods can, at times, be high in sodium and calories and lack essential nutrients required by the body. Even though tortilla chips and guacamole can seem like a healthy snack, there are some negative side effects of frequently eating tortilla chips to take into consideration.
Tortilla Chips Nutrition
A 100-gram serving of Whole Foods tortilla chips has 7.14 grams of protein, 25 grams of fat and 3.6 grams of total dietary fiber. The total carbohydrates in tortilla chips from Whole Foods is 57.14 grams, while the tortilla chips' calories are 464 per 100-gram serving. They also contain small amounts of minerals like calcium and iron, but not enough to make a significant impact on a healthy person's daily recommended dose.
According to the USDA, a 7-ounce bag of ranch-flavored tortilla chips contains 992 calories, which is approximately 50 percent of a person's daily value. The carbohydrates in tortilla chips with ranch-flavor clock in at 124.2 grams, or 41 percent of the recommended daily dose. Additionally, flavored tortilla chips can be high in sodium — this bag contains 1,027.6 milligrams of sodium, or 43 percent of the recommended daily dose.
Not all tortilla chip brands are high in sodium. There are 67.86 grams of carbs in corn chips from Mission Foods, per 100-gram serving, and only 429 milligrams of sodium. Along with minerals like calcium and iron being present, they contain 232 milligrams of potassium, an important electrolyte required for body functions like muscle contraction.
Side Effects of Tortilla Chips
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a healthy adult should not consume more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium every day. Packaged foods like tortilla chips, however, often contain more sodium than necessary — the AHA estimates that, on average, Americans consume more than 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day.
Required by the body to function, sodium is considered an essential mineral. However, too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure, which in turn increases the incidence of other cardiovascular diseases, explain the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to the AHA, more than 70 percent of the sodium that Americans consume comes hidden in packaged foods and restaurant meals. If you're looking to minimize your daily sodium intake, unsalted tortilla chips are a better low-sodium alternative to regular tortilla chips. The USDA states that a 100-gram serving of unsalted, white corn tortilla chips offers 503 calories and just 15 milligrams of salt.
When it comes to munching on tortilla chips, it's sometimes easy to ignore the recommended serving suggestion size. According to Montana State University Food Services, tortilla chips contain 140 calories in a 1-ounce serving, as little as six chips.
Eating twice or thrice the serving size of tortilla chips can happen, often resulting in weight gain, as tortilla chips are a non-nutritive, concentrated source of calories, without many other vitamins or minerals. A diet high in packaged foods like tortilla chips is not healthy, as in addition to contributing to an increased intake of sodium, it also displaces nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables from the diet.
Tortilla Chip Healthy Alternatives
The AHA suggests substituting baked tortilla chips, preferably unsalted, for fried tortilla chips. If the side effects of eating tortilla chips are worrying you, there are plenty of healthy tortilla chip alternatives you can enjoy. Homemade beet chips are an easy alternative that can be baked in the oven, as opposed to frying.
Beets are naturally low in calories, but provide nutritive benefits like being a good source of fiber and minerals like potassium, as well as of vitamins like vitamin C, an essential antioxidant that helps build muscle and reduce the effects of the common cold.
According to the Michigan State University Extension, popcorn is another healthy alternative snack, and they especially recommend air-popped popcorn for a quick snack. Popcorn is naturally low in both fat and calories, but also contains lots of fiber, and is gluten-free. It also has some of the highest level of polyphenols seen in food, which are antioxidants responsible for preventing diseases like cancer.
- USDA Branded Food Products Database: “Tortilla Chips"
- MyFoodData.com: "Nutrition Facts for Snacks Tortilla Chips Ranch-Flavor”
- USDA Branded Food Products Database: “White Corn Tortilla Chips"
- USDA FoodData Central: “Snacks, Tortilla Chips, Unsalted, White Corn"
- American Heart Association: "How Much Sodium Should I Eat per Day?”
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention: “The Role of Sodium in Your Food”
- American Heart Association: “Smart Substitutions to Eat Healthy"
- Montana State University Food Services: “Tortilla Chips"
- Michigan State University Extension: “Keeping Popcorn Healthy"