For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved foods that I can dip.
And as a lover of Mexican food, chips and salsa are definitely on the top of my list. They’re a perfect side dish to burritos, taco salad, etc. At a Mexican restaurant, I tend to binge on them. And I also snack on them on occasion!
I’m a Nutrition Coach, and I frequently get asked about healthy snack options. Tortilla chips with salsa are typically one of them. Is this actually a healthy choice?
Tortilla chips and salsa can be a nutritious snack, as long as you’re mindful of portion sizes and whether you need extra protein to keep you full longer!
Below, I talk more about all the details of these popular snack foods. Calories, protein, what types of chips and salsa are best, anything you need to know. Keep reading to learn more!
Nutrition info for tortilla chips
For this example, I’m using information for the Great Value brand tortilla chips:
- Calories: 140
- Fat: 6g
- Carbs: 19g
- Protein: 2g
And here are the ingredients:
- Ground white corn
- Vegetable oil (Sometimes corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, canola oil, or olive oil)
If you’re watching your sodium intake, look for brands that have low sodium or even unsalted tortilla chips.
Most tortilla chips are made of corn tortillas, although a few may be made from whole-wheat tortillas. Some brands even make grain-free chips.
And finally, most tortilla chips have about 2 grams of fiber. Fiber has been shown to help prevent heart disease and lower cholesterol, so having fiber in your diet is important!
Nutrition info for salsa
This information is for the Great Value Thick and Chunky salsa:
- Calories: 10
- Fat: 0g
- Carbs: 2g
- Protein: 0g
And here are the ingredients:
- Crushed tomatoes
- Jalapeño pepper
- Diced tomatoes
- Dehydrated onions
Again, some brands may have a higher sodium content. This one has 230 milligrams of sodium, which is about 10% of the daily allowance. If you can’t have a lot of sodium, look for a different brand or even look into making your own homemade salsa.
Some of these ingredients, like the tomatoes, are rich in Vitamin C. This is one of the key vitamins to keeping you healthy!
Are chips and salsa good for weight loss?
As with any type of food, the important thing is to eat in moderation.
Based on the info above, those chips and salsa would be about 150 calories. Just by calories alone, that may or may not be super filling.
It’s a low-calorie snack, so it CAN help with weight loss if that’s your goal. Portion control is important, so just pay attention to how much you eat.
Alternatively, you can dip raw vegetables into salsa instead. It’s a lower carb option and geared towards the keto diet. Honestly though, the higher carb content can actually help keep you full longer. Vegetables aren’t always the healthiest option!
How to make this more filling
I’m a big fan of adding fat and protein to my meals, because that’s the secret sauce for keeping me full longer. And this snack has 6 grams of fat and 2 grams of protein. If it were me, I wouldn’t be satisfied for very long!
If you want more staying power, you can add some shredded cheese or even guacamole. Both have healthy fats, while the cheese has a little protein too. I’ve also mixed salsa and sour cream together, as sour cream also has some fat.
Fat is more calorie-dense, so you’ll add a bigger amount of calories. But you’ll also stay full longer!
The healthiest chips
This is a hard question to answer, because the word “healthy” is so subjective.
In reality, most of the tortilla chip brands are the same. They’re made with corn and oil, and some flavorings.
Some brands of tortilla chips are made with whole grains, though. Whole grains can help with heart health, and have a bit more fiber which keeps you full longer.
Snyder’s brand makes whole grain tortilla chips, which I can find at Wal Mart pretty easily.
The healthiest salsa
Again, the word “healthy” is subjective. But there a lot of types of salsa, and they each have different health benefits.
Store-bought salsa, in a jar, is typically thinner and more well-blended. Some have extra added sugar in them; that’s not a huge deal, but sugar isn’t necessarily needed in salsa for me so I try to avoid it.
Salsa is made from tomatoes, onions, and other peppers and spices. This makes salsa low in calories to begin with.
Pico de gallo is a type of fresh salsa. It’s a lot chunkier than salsa, to where you can easily see all of the ingredients. It’s usually made with tomatoes, peppers, onion, fresh cilantro, and other fresh vegetables. I typically eat fresh pico de gallo on top of a meal rather than dipping with chips, just because it’s so thick.
I prefer the jarred salsa most times, and it’s what I picture when I think of chips and salsa.
So, are they a healthy option?
Chips and salsa are a great snack and can definitely be part of a healthy diet! The important thing is to be mindful of how much you eat, because it’s so easy to overeat this stuff. I’m totally not giving it up!
What do you think? Do you like to eat chips and salsa as a snack? What tips do you have to keeping full longer? Leave a comment and let us know!