Tortilla chips vs potato chips: that’s a snack battle on which many are divided. Is there really much of a choice between these two popular snacks, or are both equally unhealthy options?
Apart from the fact that one is grain-based and the other is vegetable-based, they’re both loaded with fats and carbohydrates and offer you lots of empty calories. But are corn chips healthier than potato chips? Can you enjoy chips without compromising your health?
Truth: Tortilla and Potato Chips Are Both Unhealthy Snacks
Potatoes and corn provide nutritional benefits on their own, but their good qualities quickly disappear when served as fried goods.
According to Eating Well, there isn’t much difference between potato and tortilla chips. They’re both equally bad options. In just one serving (about six chips), there are about 150 calories. And we all know that one serving is never enough.
These chips are stripped of their original fiber, protein, or potassium content. And those beneficial nutrients get replaced with sodium and fat instead. Too much sodium can interfere with blood pressure levels and kidney function.
And when it comes to fat, tortilla or potato chips are loaded with a harmful and detrimental fat known as trans-fat.
It’s a form of vegetable oil that’s treated with hydrogen molecules. In fact, the entire chemical structure is changed, and this product causes many problems within the body. Some include Type II Diabetes, disrupted insulin levels, inflammation, and cardiovascular disease, to name a few.
It’s essential to watch out for trans-fats in your foods, and unfortunately, these hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils are a go-to ingredient for both tortilla and potato chips.
Plus, if these chips are colored or seasoned, you’re probably consuming unnecessary or even harmful additives and calories. There’s no easy way around it. If you’re doubting between corn chips vs potato chips, then both can be equally unhealthy.
To put things into perspective, then there are about 150 calories in tortilla chips per 1 serving (which is about 22 chips in the case of popular Tostitos tortilla chips) and about 7 grams of fat and 1 gram of fiber. As you see, tortilla chips are basically stripped of fiber.
When comparing tortilla chips to potato chips, it all depends on which potato chips you choose. For example, Cape Cod potato chips contain about 140 calories per serving (28 grams) and 8 grams of fat. However, baked Lay’s potato chips with a reduced fat content have about 110 calories per serving and only 3 grams of fat, though they still contain just 1 gram of fiber, similar to tortilla chips.
In most cases, however, the calories and nutritional value in tortilla chips and potato chips can be relatively similar.
Are Tortilla Chips Healthy or Better?
Corn is the chief ingredient in tortilla chips, and most corn products are made with genetically modified corn. But if you can switch to chips made with non-GMO and organic corn, you’ve got a healthier option.
The other upside to eating tortilla chips is that you usually pair them with fresh dips, like guacamole and salsa.
These can provide either healthy fats or other nutrients. Dips like this also fill you up, so you’ll need fewer chips. Of course, if you dish up a heavy, calorie-laden dish, even all the healthy benefits of tortilla chips drown in all that dip.
And while it’s true that potato chips and tortilla chips generally contain the same amount of calories, tortilla chips tend to have less fat.
However, if you’re looking for healthy tortilla chips, your best bet is choosing chips made with organic corn.
Why Potato Chips Can Be Better
Yes, it’s true. Potato chips are high in fat and sodium and don’t have much else going on for them. And this might actually be in their favor.
You see, because they usually contain very few ingredients – unless you opt for a flavored, colored option – potato chips are a snack that can be better for you than others.
Other junk foods contain lots of artificial ingredients. They come in the form of colors, flavors, and preservatives. Add in some sugar and say hello to a snack that can increase your risk of cancer. Dr. Scott Weiss, co-founder and clinical director of Bodhizone Physical Therapy and Wellness, says we should try to make “anything artificial the absolute lowest thing we intake.” Otherwise, we can consume too many harmful products.
And because potato chips can be so simple (potato, oil, and salt), they can be the lesser of the two evils.
How to Make Healthy Homemade Potato Chips
So far, we’ve weighed the pros and cons of tortilla and potato chips, and as you can see, while some varieties can be better for you in terms of quality and health benefits, we’re still dealing with unhealthy junk food.
You can easily make your own if you want to enjoy chips occasionally. And while making your own tortilla chips requires much effort, potato chips are something anyone can whip up.
In fact, with the right ingredients, you can elevate this “junk food” to something delicious and healthy.
For a healthy jumpstart, here’s a simple recipe to bake your own potato chips.
- The first thing you’ll need is some good potatoes. Try to find fresh Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes. The larger the potato, the better – you’ll have bigger chips this way.
- Then, thinly slice the potatoes with a mandolin. And once the potatoes are sliced, let them soak in a water bowl for an hour or two. This will help to remove some of the starches in the potatoes and prevent them from browning during the baking process. Soaking them also helps them become crisper in the oven. After they’ve soaked, pat the potato slices dry.
- Preheat your oven to 350° F.
Now, it’s time for you to get creative!
- Move all of the dried slices into a bowl and toss them with the oil. You can use butter, olive oil, beef tallow, or any of the abovementioned oils. Add your favorite spices like salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, chives, basil, oregano, paprika, mustard, cumin, and vinegar. Toss the slices in the bowl to make sure everything is evenly coated.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the potato slices on it.
- Bake them in the oven for up to 10 minutes or whenever they look crispy and ready. It will depend on your oven and how thick the slices are.
- Enjoy a snack you can feel great about!
When push comes to shove, neither tortilla chips or potato chips are very healthy options, but both can be enjoyed in moderation if you make wise choices in the grocery store.
If you select brands that don’t contain harmful additives and fats, or if you bake your own potato chips, you can easily enjoy a snack that you won’t feel guilty about.