Tortillas are a vital part of any Mexican-inspired meal, but as soon you start preparing for Taco Tuesday, you'll quickly realize that there are so many different types of tortilla to choose from! There are big tortillas and little tortillas, there are corn tortillas, and there are flour tortillas, there are homemade tortillas, and there are store-bought tortillas!
You might be wondering which tortillas are better for you. Are tortillas healthy if they are made from corn? Are flour tortillas really that bad for you? Will a cast iron tortilla press give me healthier tortillas than I can get at the supermarket?
We get it; tortillas can be confusing. Because of this, we decided to do the research and compile this ultimate guide to answer the question, are tortillas healthy?
The most common type of tortilla that you'll find in the shops and restaurants across the USA are flour tortillas.
Flour tortillas are perfect for burritos and are often served in large sizes to hold in all the fillings. However, flour tortillas are not considered the healthiest choice on the market, though.
Flour tortillas have a high caloric content, and the flour used is often mass-produced and filled with additives and preservatives to keep it fresh for longer. The process of production also destroys many of the nutrients that could make this a healthy tortilla.
Corn tortillas aren't as famous in the USA as flour tortillas, but they are, in fact, a much more authentic style of tortillas. Corn tortillas are also considered a much healthier alternative to flour tortillas.
Corn tortillas are produced from whole grain corn, which is processed through an ancient technique called Nixtamalization. This releases many of the nutrients that are found within the corn. Corn tortillas tend to have a higher fiber content but are also much lower in calories and fat than a flour tortilla of the same size.
Corn tortillas are generally used for tacos and, as such, are served in smaller portion sizes than flour tortillas.
Another tortilla option on the menu is the whole wheat tortilla. These are becoming increasingly popular (just like whole-wheat bread), and in terms of their healthiness, they lie somewhere between corn tortillas and flour tortillas.
Whole wheat tortillas are made from unprocessed, whole wheat flour. They have a similar texture, although a distinctive taste, to flour tortillas. Whereas processed flour has few nutrients, whole wheat flour is still packed with nutrients, including large amounts of fiber.
Bread makes for a great comparison to tortillas. For anyone that was brought up eating traditional bread, be it sliced bread or baguettes, tortillas are often seen to be a healthier alternative.
Both are similar. Both tortillas and bread are made from grains. Both are used to hold fillings. But they don't look the same, at all. That's because bread is leavened with yeast, and tortillas are unleavened, which means they are flat.
Your average tortilla will contain fewer calories than a slice of bread of similar size, which is why it's seen as healthier. But as with any comparison, tortilla vs. bread isn't that simple. Corn tortillas are going to be much healthier than a slice of white bread, but if you are baking whole grain bread, then you'll find it's going to be more nutritious and less calorie-filled than a giant store-bought flour burrito!
Tortillas are so varied and so different that it's impossible to judge them all equally. Some are considered healthy; others are healthier than bread, while other tortillas might not be so great if you're counting the calories.
Corn tortillas are healthier than flour tortillas, having more nutrients and minerals, and generally holding fewer calories. But a small flour tortilla will contain fewer calories than a larger corn tortilla, while a whole wheat tortilla will be more nutritious than a flour tortilla of the same size.
Ultimately, we always recommend making homemade tortillas if you're looking out for your health. You control the size of the tortillas, select the best ingredients, and produce the healthiest tortillas - be they corn, flour, or whole wheat.
Bookmark our guide to healthy tortillas so that you can make the healthiest selection on Taco Tuesday!