Can You Eat Tortilla Chips on the Mediterranean Diet?

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Tortilla chips are a popular Mexican snack made from corn tortillas that are deep-fried or baked. 

Since they are found in Mexican cuisine and wouldn’t be found in traditional Mediterranean cuisines, you might be wondering if you can eat them on the Mediterranean diet.

This article will cover whether you can and should eat them on the diet and considerations if you do.

Can You Eat Tortilla Chips on the Mediterranean Diet?

Tortilla chips are part of Mexican cuisines and aren’t found in traditional Mediterranean cuisines. However, the Mediterranean diet is flexible and can include some non-traditional foods, meaning the diet allow foods outside of traditional cuisines (for example, these Enchiladas Verdes).

The diet is different in that it isn’t a strict set of rules, rather a dietary pattern that emphasizes whole foods and less on processed foods.

Since it encourages a balanced diet, you can absolutely eat them as an occasional snack. 

However, they aren’t the healthiest snack choice since they are high in calories and sodium. The bulk of your diet should consist of healthy foods (such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean meat, fatty fish and nuts) and less processed foods like tortilla chips.

As always, moderation is key. 

Best Ways to Eat Tortilla Chips

Even though they should be enjoyed as an occasional treat, there are ways to improve their nutritional value.

A big part of this is to choose healthy Mediterranean-style dips and toppings. For example, you can enjoy tortilla chips with tomato salad, guacamole (avocados are encouraged on the Mediterranean diet), or hummus (chickpeas are a great plant-based protein).

You can also add fresh herbs and spices. These tend to be excellent sources of certain antioxidants without adding many calories. Parsley, rosemary, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika and cumin are all great choices that can add to the taste.

When buying tortilla chips, look for ones that are minimally processed ingredients and have lower sodium and calorie contents. If you want to make your own, this flour tortilla chips recipe is a great one to go with.

Nutritional Value of Tortilla Chips

Tortilla chips are typically made from whole or ground corn, vegetable oil (such as corn, sunflower or soybean oil), salt, and usually other seasonings and flavorings.

A breakdown of the nutritional value of tortilla chips is found below for 1 serving (1 oz or 10-12 chips):

  • Calories: About 140-150 calories per serving. Because they a refined grain, they don’t fill you up much either, meaning it’s easy to eat far more of them 
  • Carbs: Tortilla chips are high in carbohydrates, with about 18-20g per serving 
  • Fat: Tortilla chips are high in fat, with about 7-9g per serving. Much of this is saturated fat, which is a fat that should be reduced on the Mediterranean diet.
  • Fiber: Tortilla chips are low in fiber since the corn grains in most tortilla chips are removed during the refining process, a process that removes a lot of the nutritional value and fiber. A serving is about 1-2g of fiber.
  • Protein: Tortilla chips are low in protein, with about 2-3g per serving.

Healthy Alternatives to Corn Tortilla Chips

If you’re looking for tasty chips that are a bit healthier and work better in a Mediterranean-style diet, then try these chips below:

  • Plantain chips: Plantain chips have lots of vitamins A and C.
  • Sweet potato chips: these are far more nutritious than your classic tortilla chips and contain lots of vitamins and minerals like vitamins B6, C and D.
  • Tofu chips: tofu is high in plant-based protein and unsaturated fat. 
  • Kale chips: these contain lots of fiber, antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, calcium, potassium, B vitamins, and vitamin C.

To Sum Up

Tortilla chips aren’t traditionally found in Mediterranean cuisines but can be enjoyed on the Mediterranean diet as an occasional snack.

This is because no food is outright banned from the diet, but it does generally encourage the consumption of mainly unprocessed, whole foods.

Although they aren’t the healthiest choice, you can pair them up with a healthy dip like hummus, guacamole or salsa for some extra health benefits.