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Are Blue Corn Chips Really a Better & Healthier Option?

by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN

Walking down the chip and pretzel aisle at the grocery store is like trying to solve a calculus problem in school. What’s healthy? What’s not? Which is better for you, and which are misleading? When faced with various tortilla chips at the grocery store, you may wonder whether blue corn tortilla chips are a healthier choice than regular ones.

After all, that’s what they claim on the packaging of blue corn chips, right?

Upon examining the nutrition facts on the packaging, you’ll discover that they are quite similar. Both types typically contain around 2 grams of protein and 1-2 grams of fiber per 1-ounce serving. This serving size also provides approximately 15-20 grams of carbohydrates and 6-9 grams of fat, primarily derived from the oil used for frying.

While corn chips may not offer a significant amount of vitamins, they contain moderate amounts of minerals, such as iron. However, the key factor that sets blue corn chips apart in terms of potential health benefits lies in their natural blue color, as opposed to being artificially colored.

In this article, we are going to take a deeper dive into blue corn chips and understand if they are a better and healthier option than their white counterparts.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended that you speak with your doctor before making changes to your current nutrition plan.

Blue Corn Chips vs. White Corn Chips

When we are looking into the nutritional side of things, blue corn chips are slightly higher in calories, carbs, and fat than white corn chips. However, they are also higher in dietary fiber and lower in sodium. Regarding micronutrients, blue corn chips have more magnesium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, and vitamin B6 than white corn chips.

If you are wondering which one to buy next time, both tortilla chips offer some nutritional benefits. Still, blue corn chips are a little better for you as they are higher in dietary fiber and antioxidants. However, it is essential to remember that all types of tortilla chips should be consumed in moderation.

The Benefits of Blue Corn Chips

Blue corn chips possess anthocyanins, which are natural pigments present in plants responsible for imparting blue, red, or purple colors to food. Anthocyanins belong to the class of polyphenol flavonoids and serve as antioxidants, offering potential health benefits.

Furthermore, aside from its appealing color, blue corn chips contain a higher protein content and a lower glycemic index in comparison to yellow corn. Although most of the research involving blue corn extract has been conducted in preclinical or in vitro settings, the health advantages associated with anthocyanins are well-established for human well-being.

Below are three health benefits associated with blue corn chips:

1.      Blue corn chips and cancer cells

In multiple in vitro studies, both blue corn chips and regular tortilla extracts have demonstrated the ability to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Anthocyanins derived from blue corn chips have been found to reduce the viability of cancer cells and induce apoptosis (cell death) in prostate and breast cancer cells.

Remarkably, this effect was observed even in triple-negative breast cancer cells, known for their accelerated growth and spread compared to other types of breast cancer cells. The researchers suggest that the anthocyanins present in blue corn could potentially serve as supplementary agents in breast and prostate cancer therapies, as they exhibit an impact on cell cycle and viability.

It should be noted that blue corn chips are NOT a cancer treatment. The study simply shows an interesting finding. You should still speak with your doctor about your options.

2.      Brain health benefits

In a preclinical investigation, rats that consumed blue corn chips alongside their regular diet demonstrated enhanced long-term and short-term memory compared to rats fed with white corn chips and the control groups.

3.      Metabolic health

In a rat model study designed to replicate metabolic syndrome observed in humans, the administration of blue corn extract resulted in notable improvements in various metabolic parameters. These improvements included raised levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol and reduced systolic blood pressure, serum triglycerides, total cholesterol, and adipose tissue (fat tissue).

Analyzing the Environmental Consequences of Blue Corn Chips

The production of blue corn chips can exert a notable environmental impact, contingent upon the cultivation practices employed. Employing sustainable farming techniques, such as crop rotation and cover crops, can mitigate soil erosion and sustain soil fertility.

Furthermore, opting for organic cultivation of blue corn can reduce reliance on chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which can otherwise harm the environment.

Regarding the carbon footprint, blue corn chips generally exhibit a slightly lower carbon footprint compared to white corn chips. This disparity stems from the fact that blue corn necessitates less energy for cultivation and processing when compared to white corn.

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