I don’t know if I’ve ever been this excited about a tortilla chip before.
Lately, in my apartment there’s always a bag of Siete grain-free tortilla chips. I’ve been bringing them to my friends apartments anytime I get invited anywhere. In fact, I’ve been finding myself walking to the grocery store JUST to get them, even when needing no other groceries. (I live in Brooklyn, so “walking to the store” is only a few blocks…I’m not so addicted to them that I’m walking down the highway or anything…don’t you worry. Not saying I wouldn’t do that though, if I had to).
These grain-free tortilla chips have become such a staple in my summer life that I figured it was time to share about them. I also had a few questions about these chips, so I did a bit of research last night (aka I went down a rabbit hole for hours).
Here’s everything you need to know about grain-free tortilla chips:
Grain-Free vs. Gluten-Free
So, we know that most “regular” tortilla chips, if made exclusively from corn and not wheat flour, are already gluten-free. In fact, corn is widely considered one of the “safe foods” for people who avoid gluten.
What does “grain-free” mean and why does it matter?
If you’ve followed the paleo diet at all, you might already know that corn is eliminated. Why? Well, for starters, corn is a grain. On a paleo or primal diet, grains are generally taken out for a few different reasons, among them being controlling the body’s insulin response, burning fat, calming inflammation, healing or preventing digestive issues or leaky gut (which can lead to autoimmune conditions) and the presence of anti-nutrients which can block our body from absorbing beneficial nutrients in our food.
(Side note: I am not currently on a grain-free diet, in case you’re wondering, and I’m also not recommending that everyone follow a grain-free diet. Just providing the info).
Even though corn is a gluten-free grain, most corn is genetically modified (I wrote about that here after watching the documentary “King Corn” a few years back) — but even organic corn can cause problems for some – especially those with a gluten sensitivity or autoimmune conditions.
I read up on the Siete website and it turns out that one of the co-founders was diagnosed with multiple autoimmune conditions, which was the catalyst for creating the company.
From the Siete site:
“We began learning about the ways that food can either heal or harm us. At my brother’s urging, I decided to adopt a low-inflammation, grain-free diet, and my whole family chose to join me for the journey.
As a Mexican-American family from South Texas, the tacos and fajitas that we used to enjoy on flour and corn tortillas just didn’t taste the same on a lettuce leaf! So I began making grain-free tortillas for my family.”
Thus…Siete was born! :) “Siete” represents the founder’s family of seven. :)
Zein…The Corn Protein
What exactly is it about corn that can cause these issues!? Well, I just found out last night, actually. The answer is zein. Yep, ZEIN! (Did anyone else think of this when I said that?)
I didn’t think I was going to go so in depth in this post (I planned to just say HEY GUYS I LOVE THESE CHIPS) but my thirst for research is never satisfied – so – there’s a protein in corn called zein, and studies have shown that it can cause a gluten-like immune response in some people, especially those who are sensitive to gluten or have celiac disease.
Dr. Amy Myers, author of The Autoimmune Solution, says,
“Although corn is touted as a health food, just like gluten it can cause a leaky gut. This is because, to many people’s bodies, the protein in corn can look like gluten, and they “cross-react” to it.”
Read More: Is Corn The Next Gluten?
Read More: Some Things You May Not Know About Corn
Gut Permeability and Autoimmune Conditions
Basic 101 about how “leaky gut” causes autoimmune conditions:
- The gut lining is only 1 cell thick
- In some people, the protein in gluten (and potentially other grains, like corn) can cause the body to release a protein called zonulin — zonulin “modulates the permeability of the tight junctions between cells of the wall of the digestive tract.” (read more)
- The zonulin creates openings in the already-very-thin intestinal lining, and small bits of undigested food are leaked into the bloodstream (this is what “leaky gut” means).
- The immune system reacts to this with an inflammatory response, which can become systemic.
Read more: Gluten: The Whole Story
Read more: Could Grains Cause Auto-Immunity?
Enter Siete Grain-Free Tortilla Chips
Ok – now that you’ve had a very quick crash course in how corn could potentially be irritating to some people’s digestive systems and immune systems, we can understand the desire for grain-free tortilla chips, right!?
Well, they exist, and they are DELICIOUS. Salty, tangy, and all-around amazing. Did I even care about tortilla chips before Siete entered my life?
Ingredients in Siete Grain-Free Tortilla Chips
At the moment, there are 3 flavors – Sea Salt, Lime and Nacho. My favorite, hands down, is LIME! It is mouth-wateringly good.
Here are the ingredients:
- Cassava Flour
- Avocado Oil
- Coconut Flour
- Ground Chia Seeds
- Sea Salt
- Citric Acid
- Lime Oil
Cassava (also known as “yuca”) is a root vegetable that was first cultivated by the Mayans. It’s the same starch that tapioca is made from. The reason they used cassava? It doesn’t have the same potential effect on the digestive system and immune system as grains like corn.
According to Siete’s site (they included links to their research):
“Not only is cassava anti-inflammatory and gluten-free, but it actually aids in the digestive process. Recent research suggests that cassava is a gut-friendly prebiotic1. Prebiotics are foods that build a venue and promote a party for beneficial bacteria.”
Avocado oil is another star ingredient here, as most chips are made with refined vegetable oils. Avocado oil is a healthy fat that’s also anti-inflammatory (read: 9 Evidence-Based Benefits of Avocado Oil).
So considering most chips are made with GMO corn and highly refined vegetable oil, these beautiful babies are flying high on my list of healthy crushes.
Does Grain-Free Mean Lower Carbohydrates?
Very good question. Just because something contains low-inflammation ingredients doesn’t mean it’s necessarily lower in carbohydrates. Grain-free does not always mean “carbohydrate free” – not that carbs are a bad thing, I just know some of you might be curious little cats.
I compared these chips to Garden of Eatin’ Organic Yellow Corn chips to check.
Organic Yellow Corn Chips:
Carbohydrates: 19 grams for 1 oz
Siete Grain-Free Tortilla Chips:
Carbohydrates: 19 grams for 1 oz
Findings? Exactly the same amount of carbohydrates (in about 10 chips). But, if you consider the fact that cassava is a resistant starch… well, let’s not blow our minds too much right now.
Where To Buy Siete Grain-Free Tortilla Chips
Ok, your mouth is probably watering, right? Mine is. Yes, you can buy them on Amazon — but as of now, they are cheaper on the Siete site or at the store (I’ve found them at Whole Foods and Union Market around NYC and Brooklyn).
GET THE LIME ONES. Ok?
These chips are:
- Gluten free
- Dairy free
- Soy free
Note: I did not get paid to write this article…I am just obsessed with these chips.
The ONLY drawback I’ve found to these chips? They are fairly thin, so they can have a tendency to break if you are eating them with guac. That being said, they are so good alone with no dip or sauce at all, that I let it slide and they are still allowed to keep their #1 spot in my heart as favorite chip.
Have you tried Siete Grain-Free Tortilla Chips!? What’s your favorite flavor? (hint: it’s gonna be lime).
Do you have questions? I know I put a lot of information in here, so if something is unclear and I can do EVEN MORE RESEARCH (yay) let me know and I am all over it like white on
To basking in lime-flavored paradise,