These days, corn tortilla chips are a go-to snack for many people. But how healthy are they really? Can they be bad for you?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at corn tortilla chips and examine the relationship between this snack with weight loss. We’ll also look at corn chips vs potato chips in terms of which one might be a healthier pick. By the end, you should have a better understanding of corn tortilla chips and their place in a balanced diet.
What are corn tortilla chips and where do they come from?
Corn tortilla chips have long been a staple of Mexican cuisine, but their popularity has spread far beyond their country of origin. Made from cornmeal and shaped into thin, round discs, these chips are becoming a popular snack around the world due to their crunchy texture and delicious flavour.
Popular brands of corn tortilla chips include Mission, Doritos, and Santa Maria.
Depending on the brand, tortilla chips are commonly made using some of the following ingredients: corn (white, yellow, or blue), cornmeal, vegetable oil, salt, and various spices and flavourings. This mixture is formed into a dough, which is then cut into small pieces, and fried or baked.
Below are some of the most popular tortilla chips on the market today and their ingredients:
|TORTILLA CHIPS BRAND||INGREDIENTS|
|Mission Thin and Crispy Tortilla Chips||Corn flour, water, Vegetable oil, Sea salt|
|Mission Organic Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips||Organic yellow corn masa flour, water, organic sunflower oil, sea salt|
|Doritos Nacho Cheese Flavored Tortilla Chips||Corn, Vegetable Oil (Corn, Canola, And/or Sunflower Oil), Maltodextrin (Made From Corn), Salt, Cheddar Cheese (Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Whey, Monosodium Glutamate, Buttermilk, Romano Cheese (Part-skim Cow’s Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Whey Protein Concentrate, Onion Powder, Corn Flour, Natural And Artificial Flavor, Dextrose, Tomato Powder, Lactose, Spices, Artificial Color (Yellow 6, Yellow 5, And Red 40), Lactic Acid, Citric Acid, Sugar, Garlic Powder, Skim Milk, Red And Green Bell Pepper Powder, Disodium Inosinate, And Disodium Guanylate. Contains Milk ingredients|
|Tesco Lightly Salted Tortilla Chips (UK)||Maize, Sunflower Oil, Salt|
|Santa Maria Crispy Corn Tortilla Chips||Corn flour (79%), Sunflower Oil, Salt
As you can see, the ingredients in corn tortilla chips can be very simple or very complex as is the case of flavoured tortilla chips.
What nutrients are in corn tortilla chips?
Corn tortilla chips are fairly simple to break down when it comes to their nutritional profile.
Corn tortilla chips are mostly made up of carbohydrates, and they contain around 73 grams of carbs per 100g of chips.
They also contain around 5.7 grams of fibre, 8.7 grams of protein, and 15 grams of fat per 100g of chips. This makes them a good source of energy for strenuous tasks.
As far as calories go, one serving of around 10 to 15 corn tortilla chips will typically contain around 140 kcal. This means that corn chips are a fairly caloric snack. Depending on the brand and flavour, 100 grams of corn tortilla chips can easily contain between 450 to 500 kcal.
Health benefits of corn tortilla chips
Corn tortilla chips can be a good snack for those looking for a healthy alternative to deep-fried chips. They can even potentially provide some health benefits.
A source of fibre
Corn tortilla chips are a source of dietary fibre, which helps reduce cholesterol levels and may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Contain essential vitamins and minerals
Although they are only present in limited amounts, corn tortilla chips are also a source of B vitamins, such as folate, niacin, and thiamine, which are essential for energy production and metabolism.
They also contain small amounts of iron, calcium and magnesium, which help keep your body running smoothly.
An excellent source of antioxidants
They can also be an excellent source of antioxidants due to the presence of phytonutrients found in corn. These antioxidants help protect cells from oxidative damage which can lead to numerous health issues like cancer or heart disease.
For those with IBS or similar digestive issues, high-FODMAP foods such as corn may be a strict no-go. Luckily, this is mainly the case with fresh corn.
Processed corn foods such as cornmeal, corn tortillas, and corn chips tend to be low FODMAP, meaning they are safe to consume even for those with IBS.
Risks of eating corn tortilla chips
Corn tortilla chips are a popular snack food, but they have some side effects that should be taken into consideration.
For one, they can be high in sodium and can contribute to an increased risk of hypertension. Additionally, corn tortilla chips are processed food and don’t provide the same health benefits as whole grains.
For individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, corn tortilla chips should be avoided as they can contain traces of gluten.
Furthermore, they can contain preservatives and other additives that can cause allergic reactions in some people. Regardless of allergies, consuming tortilla chips in excess can cause an upset stomach.
Since corn chips spike blood sugar, they also trigger an insulin response in the body, which contributes to an inflammatory response in the body.
Lastly, the safety of genetically modified corn has been an object of debate for quite some time, and it is unclear how risky the consumption of genetically modified crops really is.
Are corn chips healthier than potato chips?
Corn chips and potato chips are two of the most popular snack foods. Let’s take a look at corn chips vs potato chips when it comes to which one is healthier to consume.
From the aspect of calories, both potato chips and corn chips are highly caloric snacks, but potato chips tend to be more calorie-dense than corn tortilla chips.
Corn chips are also lower in fat and higher in protein and fibre. Corn chips also tend to have a slightly lower glycemic index than potato chips, making them safer to consume for diabetics.
From an overall look at the nutritional content of corn chips and potato chips, it can be easily said that corn chips are the healthier option.
Are blue tortilla chips healthy?
Another popular variant of corn tortilla chips is blue tortilla chips. They get this name from the blue corn that is used to make them. There also do appear to be certain benefits to eating this type of corn tortilla chips over the others.
Blue corn is known to contain around 30% more protein than yellow corn, and less starch as well. This makes it a more satiating snack.
Moreover, the proteins found in this type of corn have been shown to regulate inflammation, oxidative stress, and insulin resistance, meaning that blue tortilla chips could be a healthy snack with some anti-diabetic benefits.
Are white corn tortilla chips healthy?
White corn tortilla chips can offer a unique flavour and variety to a healthy diet. While they are not inherently unhealthy, they are high in carbohydrates and sodium and can be high in calories.
The amount of fat and calories can vary depending on the brand, so it’s important to read nutrition labels before making a purchase.
Although some believe that yellow corn chips are sweeter and thus more unhealthy than white corn tortilla chips, this is not the case.
White corn chips and regular yellow corn tortilla chips are almost the same from a nutritional point of view. Eating them in moderation, as part of a balanced diet, is the best way to ensure that you’re getting the nutrition you need.
Are tortilla chips good for weight loss?
In general, corn tortilla chips are not a great food option for those on their weight loss journey. Tortilla chips are high in calories and low in protein, meaning that it’s easy to consume many of them without feeling full. Likewise, eating too many can lead to weight gain due to the high calorie and fat content.
Blue corn tortilla chips that are lower in calories and higher in protein could make for a better snack if your goal is weight loss. Still, no matter which brand and flavour you choose, it is important to consume corn chips in moderation.
Are corn tortilla chips healthy or unhealthy?
All in all, corn tortilla chips do not have that much to offer in terms of healthy nutrients. While they are a tasty snack that can boost energy levels thanks to their high calorie and carb profile, the health benefits of processed corn chips are minimal.
Oven-baked chips with fewer synthetic ingredients are usually a healthier option than store-bought corn chips.
Additionally, chips that are made with whole-grain corn and contain minimal amounts of sodium are generally considered better for you.
Finally, corn tortilla chips that are baked or lightly fried are also a healthier option than those that are deep-fried.
If you’re looking for an even healthier alternative, consider opting for whole-wheat tortilla chips, or mix it up and try vegetable chips such as kale chips.