December 15, 2008

You Ask, I Answer: Tortilla Chips & Salsa

I had lunch at a Mexican restaurant this weekend that labeled some [menu items] as low-fat and low-carb.

I was surprised that the chips and salsa appetizer wasn't [labeled] low-fat.

I know salsa is fat-free, so wouldn't [chips and salsa] be lower in calories than [an order of] chips and guacamole?

-- David (last name withheld)
Orlando, FL

Although a standard restaurant order of chips and salsa (approximately two ounces of tortilla chips and one cup of salsa) offers 330 fewer calories than that same amount of chips and guacamole, it is not a low-fat appetizer.

Sure, one serving (two tablespoons) of salsa contains a negligilble 0.1 grams of fat, but don't forget about the chips!

One serving of tortilla chips (one ounce in weight, or approximately 12 individual chips) contributes 140 calories and seven grams of fat. This is identical to the calorie and fat values of potato chips, by the way.

Assuming the restaurant is following FDA standards for low-fat labeling, they can only "award" that moniker to items contributing less than three grams of fat per serving.

Since one serving of tortilla chips alone offers more than twice that amount, you can understand why this particular appetizer didn't make the cut.

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