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Tortilla chips are crunchy, salty, and oh-so-delicious whether on their own or served with salsa, guacamole, queso, and other mouthwatering dips. The crowd-favorite snack has become so popular that February 24th is officially National Tortilla Chip Day in the United States. However, they are not the healthiest snack option, says nutrition experts.
Tortilla Chips Nutrition
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a 100-gram serving of Whole Foods tortilla chips has 464 calories, 25 grams of fat, 7.14 grams of protein, 3.6 grams of total dietary fiber, and 57.14 grams of carbohydrates. These tortilla chips also contain small amounts of minerals, including iron and calcium, though not enough to make a significant impact on a healthy individual’s daily recommended dose.
Triggers Inflammation and High Cholesterol
Snacks typically account for 100 to 300 calories in a complete meal plan, whether its chips, saltines, or even fruit. But a 1-ounce serving of generic tortilla chips already contains 150 calories. Depending on the size of one tortilla chip, you may only be able to eat the recommended six to fifteen chips to stay within a 1-ounce portion. Therefore, eating out of a family-sized bag can make portion control challenging. The fat, sodium, and carbohydrates in a generic bag of tortilla chips are bad for your health because they promote inflammation, weight gain, and high cholesterol.
Tortilla Chip Alternatives and Choices to Consider
Here’s how you can enjoy tortilla chips without worrying too much about the associated health risks:
- Baked is not always best. The taste and texture of baked chips are not the most appealing, and there is no real nutritional benefit. Most baked tortilla chips have roughly the same calories as deep-fried chips, plus they contain more carbohydrates and sodium (856 milligrams of salt per 100 grams of serving).
- Ditch the bag. Avoid eating straight from the bag. Research shows that consumers eat up to 80 percent more from a large container or bowl. Measure out a single serving instead.
- Go blue. Blue corn tortilla chips get their unique color from brain-boosting flavonoids called anthocyanins. They also contain slightly more protein than yellow and white corn chips.
- Numbers to look for. Serving Size: Approximately 1 ounce (about 6-15 chips). Saturated Fat Per Serving: 1 gram. Sodium Per Serving: 100 milligrams.
- Ingredients to avoid. Palm and cottonseed oil since they are higher in saturated fat than other oils. In addition, look for alternatives with no added sugar.
Bearitos Blue Corn Tortilla Chips (made with organic blue corn), Tostitos Simply Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips, and Green Mountain Gringo White Corn Tortilla Strips are three healthier alternatives you may find in your local grocery store.
When it comes to snacking on tortilla chips, ignoring the recommended serving size is too easy. Eating an entire bag of tortilla chips happens more often that we would like to admit, resulting in weight gain. Tasty as they may be, they are a non-nutritive and concentrated source of calories. They also contribute to an increased intake of sodium and displace nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables from the diet. If you love tortilla chips, just remember to eat them in moderation and explore healthier choices when you can. The benefits include a healthier you with much looser pants.