Are Tortilla Chips Healthy? Do You Really Need It?

Healthy tortilla chips meal

Tortilla chips are still a typical appetizer in the authentic Mexican restaurants, usually served with a variety of dips, such as salsa, cheesy dip, guacamole, etc. Alternatively, they are also seasoned with herbs and spices if not served with a dip. Let us find are tortilla chips healthy?

Tortilla chips are a snack food made from corn (tortilla). Traditional corn tortillas are cut into triangles and then either fried or baked to make them into tortilla chips. It has became popular during the middle of the 19th century in Mexico. Also, in the later 1970s, tortilla chips started trending outside of California as well.

The primary market for tortilla chips is the United States, and the snack is ultra-popular there. However, it is now available worldwide and liked by food lovers across different continents. Renowned brands that manufacture and sell tortilla chips in branded packaging are Doritos, Tostitos, Phileas Fogg Snacks, and Don Tacos.

In some parts of the world, tortilla chips are also known as nachos, which is a shredded cheese version of the authentic tortilla chip. Still, nachos and other corn chips are not to be confused with the tortilla chips, as the process involved in making tortilla chips is different from other ordinary corn chips. The process is known as nixtamalization, which consists of processing raw corn with quicklime.

Nutritional Value

Tortilla chips are no doubt healthier when compared with any other kind of corn chips, nachos or potato chips. There a variety of tortilla chips available in the market. It comes as a fried and baked variant. Some are salted and unsalted. They are made from different kinds of maize, mainly yellow maize, white maize, and blue maize. Depending upon the style of tortilla chips, their nutritional value may differ a little bit. Let us consider an ideal case of white corn, unsalted, baked tortilla chips.

  • There are 503 calories present in every 100 grams of the aforementioned style of tortilla chips.
  • There are 23 grams of total fat and 2.5 grams of Saturated Fat in every 100 grams of tortilla chips, which is 29% and 12% of the total daily value.
  • 15 mili grams of Sodium is present, which is 1% of the total.
  • Unsalted and baked tortilla chips have 65 grams of Carbs, and 5.3 grams of dietary fiber.
  • Tortilla chips are also rich in protein. It contains 7.8 grams of protein.

Which Are The Healthiest Tortilla Chips

As discussed, Tortilla Chips are a nutritional snack food; hence we made a list of the top 5 healthy Tortilla Chips available for you:

  1. Late July –These are the most popular Tortilla Chips that come in many different flavors. Lame Jalapeno, Nacho Chipotle, etc. Additionally, these flavors are not artificial but rather a result of the natural ingredients. These chips are certified gluten-free and completely organic.
  2. Farmhouse Culture – A unique brand that serves tortilla chips with probiotics for a gut-healthy approach. The most popular flavor of this brand is Zesty Garden, which is flavored with Tomato, Onions, Garlic, and Bell pepper. These are certified gluten-free, plant-based, and organic chips.
  3. The Real Coconut – Coconut flavored tortilla chips made with coconut flour to create gluten-free, non-GMO, and organic chips. These chips also have no dairy, grains, and refined sugar. Most tortilla chips are made with maize, but not these.
  4. Garden of Eatin – It is a rare blue-colored tortilla chip, made with blue corn maize. These are entirely natural, and organic chips are also gluten-free and non-GMO. Garden of Eatin makes its chips with the use of organic blue corn that gives a crisp product that perfectly blends with salsa.
  5. Jackson’s Honest – Most yellow corn tortilla chips are full of unhealthy trans fats and a high quantity of Sodium. But not Jackson’s Honest. If you like classic yellow tortilla chips and still want to stay healthy, Jackson’s Honest is the right pick for you. They use coconut oil instead of commonly used vegetable or palm oil for cooking their chips. These are wholly gluten-free and non-GMO. They use a volcanic rock to grind the flour, which is an ancient method used by Mayans. It is believed that such type of grinding helps to preserve the flavor of grains and provide more authentic taste.

tortilla chips with cheese on top

Are Tortilla And Nachos Chips The Same?

No, Tortilla Chips and Nachos are not the same things. Many times there is confusion between Nachos and Tortilla Chips; however, it is be understood that Tortilla Chips are the base ingredient in Nachos.

Both Nachos and Tortilla Chips are integral parts of the Mexican cuisine. In simple words, Tortilla Chips, when topped with grated or molten cheese and other veggies, is called the Nachos dish. Nachos were invented in 1943.

The chips are made from yellow, white, and blue maize and are the primary ingredient in Nachos. Still, tortilla chips can also be stand-alone snack food. Many people in Mexico and America prefer eating plain tortilla chips with aromatic herbs and spices.

On the other hand, Nachos are comprised of Tortilla Chips and a base. Nachos can be made using other chips as well as a base, but mostly they use Tortilla Chips only. A bed of tortilla chips is formed and then topped with other ingredients. Shredded or molten cheese is formed over the tortilla chips first. A variety of cheese can be used, such as cheddar, Colby jack, pepper jack, and other Mexican blends of cheese.

In addition to the cheese, Nachos have veggies, meat, and sauces. The most commonly used meats are chicken, beef, and steak. Sometimes some restaurants can also use shrimp. Vegetables include onions, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, tomatoes, avocado, jalapeno, and lettuce as well. These veggies could be raw, cooked, or steamed.

Also, you can find a variety of Nachos topped with herbs like chili powder, cayenne powder, oregano, and black pepper. Over and all, there is a wide range of acceptable topping ingredients for a Nacho dish.

How To Make Tortilla Chips From Scratch?

homemade tortilla chips

According to cookingclassy healthy tortilla chips are extremely easy to make at home. It will only require three ingredients, and you can try your hand at making tortilla chips at home.

  1. Oil – To fry your chips. Generally, vegetable oil or palm oil is used for frying tortilla chips, but you can also use peanut oil, almond oil, or canola oil as well. Try to avoid a kind of oil that has a low smoking point. For example, virgin coconut oil or virgin olive oil will burn quickly and will taste bad.
  2. Salt – Salt is used for seasoning the chips. You can also add a blend of black pepper and red chili powder as per your taste. The best thing about home-made tortilla chips is that you can add salt as much or as less as you want.
  3. Corn Tortillas – The basic ingredient for making tortilla chips is tortillas (thin flat pancakes made of maize flour)and not dough. Try to use extra thin tortillas as they fry up crispy. Thinner tortillas will turn out crispier chips.

Operation

Here is a step by step recipe for classic tortilla chips.

  1. Heat the oil – Preheat the oil to approximately 340 degrees. Also, prepare a bed of paper towels on the side. A couple of layers of paper towels would be a good idea.
  2. Cut the tortillas – The next step is to cut the tortillas in triangles. The best way to do that is by making stacks of 4-5 tortillas and then cut them together.
  3. Fry – Now put a few tortilla chips to the preheated oil. Putting all the chips together is not what we suggest, best is to fry them in a batch of 18-20 chips at once. Also, check the size of your cooking utensil, chips should be enough to fit in. No chips should wholly or partially overlap. Let them cook for some time, not more. The color of chips should not change too much. Quickly turn the chips and fry them again on the other side.
  4. Take out and season – As soon as both sides are cooked properly, take them out on the bed of paper towel. The extra oil of the chips gets absorbed by the paper towels. While the chips cool down, add seasoning to it. Make sure that you season them with the spices of your choice, do it before the oil dries up. Otherwise, the salt won’t stick.
  5. Repeat – Add the next batch to the frying and continue the same process again until you finish them all.

How To Store Home-Made Tortilla Chips?

Tortilla chips need to be stored in a completely air-tight container. These chips will stay good for 3-4 days from the day you made them; after that, it may start to taste a bit stale. It is highly recommended not to make a lot of chips at once, and consume them within 3-4 days only. If they start to smell or taste bad, it’s time to dump them and make new ones.

Are Tortilla Chips Healthier Than Potato Chips?

Although we know the answer straight away, still let us take you through some interesting facts and then establish the results of Tortilla Chips v/s Potato Chips.

  • Calories – Tortilla chips have around 500-505 calories per serving of 100 grams, whereas potato chips would have a minimum of 520 calories or more. Tortilla chips are a shade better when we compare the calories.
  • Protein and Fiber – Although both are almost the same in terms of providing protein and fibers, still tortilla chips are a little more protein-rich if the right process is used for cooking.
  • Trans-fats – Tortilla chips have almost ten times more trans fats to the potato chips. Although the tortilla chips only have 0.2 grams of trans-fat in a serving, they add up quickly. WHO recommends only 2 grams of trans-fat daily to be healthy, and tortilla chips cross that mark. In this case, the tortilla chips and the potato chips rate the same.
  • Vitamins and Minerals – None of the chips has much of vitamins and minerals. Potato chips have 8% of your daily value for calcium and 7% of your daily value for Sodium.
  • Salt Factor – Tortilla chips are way ahead of potato chips in the matter of salt consideration. They have 38% less Sodium than the potato chips.

Nutritionally, there is not a big difference in potato and tortilla chips. Still, if we observe carefully, we find out that the tortilla chips are the winners. Hence, Tortilla Chips are better than Potato Chips.

Interesting Things To Eat With

Generally, tortilla chips go with salsa dip and guacamole dip, and sometimes also eaten simply with salt spice seasonings. But there are more exciting ideas for pairing tortilla chips with other spices and seasonings.

  • Salsa Verde – This is green tomato salsa. An exciting alternative for authentic red tomato salsa.
  • Avocado Aioli – It is an addictive dipping experience. Generally, people use avocado aioli as a spread for tacos and burritos. They mix with tortillas chips equally well.
  • Hummus – There are a variety of hummus recipes available, and hummus can be topped with a variety of ingredients such as seeds, nuts, parsley, etc. Try this for an out of the world chip dipping experience.
  • Pepita Pesto – Pesto and Tortilla Chips may sound little odd combination to many. Still, if you try it with classic yellow tortilla chips, we promise it makes a good couple.
  • Red Pepper Dip – This is a fantastic combination of flavors. Blending the sweetness of roasted red pepper and a zest of lime juice surely goes well with classic white corn tortilla chips.

To conclude, we would only say that Tortilla Chips are an extremely experimental piece of food. You can try more combinations of Green Pea Guacamole, a variety of Spinach Dips, Pico De Gallo, Creamy and Cheesy Dips as well.

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