Are Tortilla Chips Healthy for You? (The Truth Plus Healthy Alternatives)
Tortilla chips are a favorite salty snack for many of us, but are they healthy? While the ingredients might be simple, tortilla chips are often high in fat, sodium, and calories. Like other packaged foods, they aren’t the healthiest option around.
However, there are ways to enjoy tortilla chips (or something like them) and still get that satisfying crunch. Let’s look at the most significant concerns, and then we’ll talk about healthy tortilla chip alternatives to try.
What Makes Tortilla Chips Unhealthy?
First, tortilla chips can be high in sodium. The flavored types will be higher in salt than plain tortilla chips. It’s best to check the nutrition label so that you know what you’re getting per serving.
While some people have to be more careful with salt than others, the American Heart Association recommends 2,300 milligrams or less of sodium per day for most Americans.
Tortilla chips can also be fattening if eaten too frequently and in high quantities. An ounce serving of plain tortilla chips typically has around seven grams of fat — and most of us aren’t eating just one serving!
You should also check out the type of fat in the chips. Look for more polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats and fewer saturated fats. Although it’s becoming rarer, some packaged tortilla chips still contain trans fats, which are very unhealthy and dangerous.
Are Tortilla Chips Healthier than Potato Chips?
In most cases, there’s not a huge difference. Both tortilla chips and potato chips can be high in sodium, fat, and calories. It’s best to treat them equally and look for healthier versions or alternatives.
Are Blue Corn Tortilla Chips Healthy?
If you’re looking for a better alternative to tortilla chips, blue corn chips are a good choice. We’ll talk about why in #2 below.
Top 11 Healthy Alternatives to Tortilla Chips
Need a salty snack that you feel better about eating? Read on.
1. Enjoying Tortilla Chips in Moderation
First of all, you don’t necessarily have to go cold turkey on tortilla chips. If you can practice moderation, enjoy a serving at a time with a healthy, homemade salsa or healthy vegan queso.
You can also choose tortilla chip brands that use better ingredients, such as Frontera Foods tortilla chips. They are non-GMO, gluten-free, and whole-grain without any artificial ingredients or preservatives.
However, the problem many people have is stopping after just one serving. If that’s you or you want to steer clear of tortilla chips entirely, here are the best options.
2. Blue Corn Chips
The absolute best tortilla chip substitute is a type of tortilla chip. Blue corn chips contain 20 percent more protein and three or more times the fiber of regular tortilla chips. You’re also getting more iron, calcium, and B vitamins with blue corn.
3. Sliced Nuts
Unless you’re allergic, nuts are always a healthy snack choice. If you want something with more of the chip-like crunch, buy some sliced almonds and enjoy. Just be mindful of other ingredients — it’s best to choose nuts with no added salt or oils.
4. Beanitos Bean Chips
Beanitos are chips made from beans! You can’t get much better than that when looking for a tortilla chip sub. Since the first ingredient is beans, Beanitos are high in plant-based protein and fiber while being free of GMOs, gluten, trans fat, corn, and MSG.
You can get Beanitos in several flavors, but our favorite is the White Bean Chips with a Hint of Lime variety.
5. Plantain Chips
Plantains look like bananas, but they are more savory, making them a great tortilla chips substitute.
You can often find plantain chips at health stores, but some brands add too much sugar, artificial ingredients, or unhealthy fats. For the best results, make your own — such as with this Whole30 baked plantain recipe. They’re oven-baked and not deep-fried like some packaged options can be.
6. Baked Chickpeas
Boost the nutrition of your crunchy, salty snack option by using chickpeas. You’ll get a healthy dose of plant protein, B vitamins, calcium, zinc, magnesium, folate, and antioxidants.
Several baked chickpea products are on the market these days, such as Biena Chickpea Snacks, or you can make your own.
7. Snapea Crisps
Want a unique and healthy snack? Harvest Snaps are chips made from snap peas. Like other options on this list, they’re baked and free of artificial flavors or sweeteners. You’ll get plant-based protein and fiber from green peas in every bite.
8. Kale Chips
If you haven’t jumped on the kale chips wagon by now, you’ve been missing out. Kale chips are a fantastic alternative to tortilla chips because they provide the crisp and crunch from pure kale leaves.
You can make your own kale chips at home or buy them to save time. Rhythm Superfoods is a suitable brand for your kale chip needs.
9. Rice Cakes
Although rice cakes don’t provide the nutritional density of some other options, they’re still a good bet when you want something healthier than fried tortilla chips. Rice cakes give you a decent dose of whole grains while being naturally gluten-free.
10. Healthy Popcorn
We’re not talking about the butter-soaked theater popcorn here. Healthy popcorn is air-popped or made with just a little bit of salt and oil. Buy some from a brand like Skinny Pop or create your own at home with an air popper and your favorite seasonings.
11. Making Your Own Tortilla Chips
Lastly, you can also make tortilla chips at home for a more nutritious option. Grab some corn tortillas, brush them with a bit of oil, and bake them in the oven. You’ll know exactly what’s in them and avoid the junk that comes with traditional tortilla chips.
The truth is that tortilla chips can be okay in moderation, but many of us struggle with moderation these days. Plus, there are so many better options out there, so why not try one of the above?
Shop our selection at Nature’s Ideal today for all of your natural product needs, including healthy chips.