Is there really much of a choice between these two popular snacks?
Apart from the fact that one is grain-based and the other’s vegetable-based, they’re both loaded with fats and carbohydrates and offer you lots of empty calories.
But is one better than the other? Can you enjoy “junk food” without compromising your health?
Truth: Tortilla and Potato Chips Are Both Bad Options
It’s true that potatoes and corn provide nutritional benefits on their own, but their good qualities quickly disappear when they’re served as fried goods.
According to Eating Well, there isn’t much of a difference between potato and tortilla chips. They’re both equally bad options. In just one serving (about 6 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, just to name a few.
It’s important 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. Tortilla and potato chips aren’t the healthiest snack option.
Why Tortilla Chips Can Be 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 pare them with fresh dips, like guacamole and salsa.
These can provide either healthy fats or other nutrients. Dips like this also fill you up, which means you’ll need fewer chips in general. 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 contain generally the same amount of calories, this comparison shows that tortilla chips actually have fewer calories and less fat overall.
But even this isn’t a good reason to overindulge in this snack.
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. And Dr. Scott Weiss, Co-Founder and Clinical Director of Bodhizone Physical Therapy and Wellness, says that 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.
Healthy Recipes for 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.
If you want to enjoy chips from time to time, you can easily make your own. And while making your own tortilla chips requires a lot of 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.
What’s more, you can decide exactly what ingredients you want to consume. Instead of using harmful trans-fats, you can cook your potato chips with sunflower seed oil, coconut oil, lard, and even duck fat.
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 bowl of water 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, sunflower seed oil, beef tallow, or any of the oils mentioned above. Add in your favorite spices like salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, chives, basil, oregano, paprika, mustard, cumin, and even 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 are 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 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.