As the popularity of whole grains has grown, so too has our curiosity about how to incorporate them into various parts of our diets. One such food item that has come under scrutiny in recent years is the tortilla – a popular staple in Mexican cuisine that can be found across North America.
While traditional flour tortillas have been around for decades, consumers are increasingly looking for healthier options. Many folks turn to whole wheat tortillas as an alternative; however, it’s worth considering whether those options are actually better for you. In this article, we’ll delve deeper into the question: Are whole wheat tortillas healthy?
WHAT ARE WHOLE WHEAT TORTILLAS AND WHY CHOOSE THEM OVER OTHER TYPES?
Before we dive deeper into the health benefits (or potential drawbacks) of whole wheat tortillas, let’s look at what exactly they are and why someone might choose them over other types of tortillas.
In general terms, a “whole grain” refers to any grain where all three components – bran, germ and endosperm – remain intact. When processed or refined grains (which typically remove one or more parts), many nutritional elements go along with it – including fiber and nutrients like magnesium and vitamin B6.
Whole wheat flour is made by grinding up the entire kernel of wheat (minus just a little bit). As you can imagine then, if a recipe calls for 100% whole-wheat flour versus regular bleached white flour (which only uses part of the kernel), there will be some significant differences when it comes to nutrition content!
So what does this mean when applied specifically to tortillas? Simply put: Whole wheat tortillas contain more beneficial nutrients than their white counterparts do.
WHOLE WHEAT VS WHITE FLOUR TORTILLAS
If ordered from somewhere or purchased pre-packaged at grocery stores chances are your default choice may be regular white-flour tortilla instead of something called “natural” or “whole wheat”. However, understanding the key differences between these two types of tortillas will help you make more informed nutritional choices.
The most significant difference between white flour and whole wheat flour is fiber content. As mentioned earlier, refining grains removes their natural fiber sources in both cereal fibers (the bran) and mucilage (the germ layer), that ends up taking away all those benefits from otherwise nourishing foods like breads and pastas.
When it comes to tortillas made with white flour, they may only contain about one gram of fiber per serving – if any at all! On the other hand, a single whole wheat tortilla could have around four grams of fiber or more; given there isn’t much variation in size or recipe measurements for both types of tortillas.
Another essential nutrient we can compare in these two popular tortilla recipes: protein. Whole-wheat flour has slightly higher amounts than refined wheats thanks once again to its retained endosperm within it when baked into delicious flatbread you’ll love by everyone!
Depending on how they are prepared – either store-bought or as homemade varieties- sodium levels for these different kinds can diverge greatly. Generally speaking though: since high salt content is known to be unhealthy for various reasons such as bloating or prolonged blood pressure spikes over time when consistently consumed that would not equate either type being inherently worse by nature alone..
So while white flours lack some beneficial nutrients found in whole-wheat ones there isn’t too much concern with respect healthy consumption patterns based solely on this factor.
NUTRITIONAL VALUE OF WHOLE WHEAT TORTILLAS
With an increase in popularity among those looking to enjoy healthier meals without having to give up traditional favorites – Enter Whole Wheat Tortilla Mixes! To understand just what makes them so special at least nutritionally-speaking:
1. MORE FIBER MEANS Aids IN DIGESTIVE HEALTH
When it comes to dietary fiber, the benefits span far and wide. According to a 2015 review published in the journal Nutrients, consuming more fiber may help reduce one’s risk of developing various diseases – from diabetes and heart disease, low digestive function or high inflammation levels.
This is because fiber works as food for our gut bacteria that then goes on to digest it into health-promoting nutrients such as vitamins and enzymes responsible for protecting against infections caused by harmful bacteria or illnesses like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
2. RICH IN NUTRIENTS
Whole wheat flour tortillas contain higher amounts of several essential vitamins than their refined counterparts do.
– they’ve got nearly double vitamin B1 content compared!
– When you opt for whole-grain varieties, you’re also getting minerals like iron, magnesium, and phosphorus that your body needs on a daily basis.
3. BETTER MUSCLE BUILDING
Protein provides an essential nutrient source for building/repairing tissues throughout the body; meaning regular inclusion as part of any healthy diet positively impacts muscle development/protection if done regularly enough!
They are also typically plant-based protein sources that means lower cholesterol intake vs animal proteins within recipes requiring plain white flours.
WHOLE WHEAT TORTILLAS VERSUS OTHER TACO INSIDES
Now all this sounds pretty darn good which would lead one to think opting solely with these types easy-peasy when picked up at grocery stores but let’s not forget that while whole-wheat tortillas definitely have some nutritional perks beyond what a traditional white counterpart does there are other factors beyond those differing texture palates people might be considering before finalizing their decision :
FOR LOW-CARB DIETS GO WITH LETTUCE CUPS:
If someone looking specifically opts out carbs/rice altogether there’s always alternatives too – including lettuce wraps/cups as a crunchy and refreshingly light alternative or we could add keto-friendly tortillas instead.
CORN TORTILLAS ARE GREAT FOR GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS:
Tangible differences aside though, those who have celiac disease or are sensitive to gluten may want to look for corn-based tortilla shells – made from masa harina- often used in Mexican meals… These tend to not only be more flavorful but also naturally free of gluten ( which is essential nutrition wise for some individuals).
WHOLE GRAIN/WHEAT TORTILLAS STILL CONSIDERED HEALTHIER
The long and short answer is yes; whole wheat/flour tortilla opt-ins are still preferable over the traditional variety if one decides they don’t mind switching up their taste buds slightly! The nutrient composition of this foods differs significantly due to its retained germ layer within it’s flour making them richer protein/fiber sources compared trying other varieties.
For people unable consume carbs however, lettuce cups make great alternative low-carb options so it just comes down what category you fit!