With all the food options available at present, people need to be more conscientious when choosing the kinds of food items to consume. This is especially important for people to maintain their health and quality of life. This can be challenging though, as certain regional dishes are not particularly known for their health benefits. On top of this, people who are always on the go and those who are always busy may have to choose foods that are convenient to prepare rather than eat those that are considered whole or real foods.
On the other hand, there are some regional dishes, such as Mexican cuisine that may be altered or changed to make them healthier. One staple of Mexican cuisine is the tortillas but which one is healthier- flour tortilla or corn tortilla? In this article let us look at which tortilla is actually healthier and what other healthy Mexican food options are available for those who love eating Mexican dishes.
Mexican Cuisine and Health: A Brief Overview
Those who love Mexican recipes need not consume tons of fattening food items. If some of the staples of Mexican cuisine are removed or avoided such as tons of white rice, sour cream servings, and increased amounts of cheese, then Mexican cuisine will usually just have some highly nutritious ingredients such as shredded beef, chicken breast, other lean meats, peppers, red onions, black beans, avocadoes, and tomatoes.
However, one important ingredient needs some form of health check as well- which one is healthier- flour tortillas or corn tortillas? These variations of tortillas should be approached in terms of their caloric- content, which has higher levels of carbs, and which minerals and vitamins are present in each.
Corn Tortillas vs Flour Tortillas: A Mexican Standoff
In terms of calories, flour tortillas contain 291 calories while corn tortillas contain only 209 calories. As such, a corn tortilla is better for those who wish to consume lower calories than flour tortillas.
For protein, Flour tortillas can provide an individual’s 16% recommended daily requirement as opposed to that of Corn tortillas which are only at 10%. Flour tortillas can provide more protein and may better aid the body in repairing damaged muscles and can help maintain feelings of satiety for longer periods.
For fat content, a flour tortilla can provide 7.4 grams of total fat, 1.2. grams of which are saturated. On the other hand, a corn tortilla can give individuals only 2.7 grams, 0.4 grams of which is saturated. This should make people lean towards corn tortillas more as saturated fat intake should generally be reduced.
Consuming increased levels of saturated fats or bad cholesterol can lead to a number of health risks such as cardiovascular diseases. For carbs, flour tortillas can provide 16% of the body’s recommended daily intake while corn can provide a slightly lower 14%.
For those who wish to go on a low carb diet, corn tortillas are slightly better but for carbs, this is mostly a draw. The sugar content of flour tortillas is at 2.6 grams while corn tortillas only have .8 grams. Those who want to manage their blood sugar should obviously go for corn tortillas.
Calcium content for flour tortillas sits at around 16% of the recommended daily intake while corn can only provide around 6.8% which makes flour the clear winner for calcium content. Iron in flour tortillas is at 17% of the recommended daily intake of individuals while corn tortillas only have 6% making flour tortillas the better choice for those who wish to increase their iron intake.
Flour tortillas can provide 5% of the daily recommended Magnesium needs of individuals while corn can provide an amazing 17%. It is clear then, that corn tortillas can provide more magnesium than flour tortillas, which can aid individuals in maintaining normal blood pressure, strong bones, and steadier heart rhythm through its magnesium content.
Flour tortillas contain 4% of an individual’s total daily requirement while corn can provide 5%. Potassium content for both is almost the same making this a tie. Some of the best sources of potassium include bananas, black beans, and sweet potatoes.
Lastly, flour tortillas have a sodium content amounting to an individual’s 30% of a person’s daily recommended intake while corn tortillas are only at 2%. As such, flour tortillas are at a clear disadvantage and should be considered as sodium bombs and can derail a person’s goal of eating a healthy diet since experts recommend limiting the intake of sodium at around 1,500 milligrams per day.
The Verdict: Corn Tortillas vs Flour Tortillas
The winner is Corn Tortilla as they have lower saturated fats and sugar content but increased levels of fiber. In addition, corn tortillas also have smaller portion sizes making them ideal for people who wish to control the amount of food they consume.
Other Healthy Mexican Food items
Listed below are some of the healthy Mexican food options:
- Instead of going for the chips, go for corn tortillas- Mexican restos will usually offer an introductory basket of goodies and these will usually include chips that were prepared or fried in unhealthy oil. Finishing this basket of treats, while tempting can greatly derail a person’s diet goals. Instead, people can go for the corn tortillas option.
- Instead of taquitos, go for the Tostada salad- Similar to chips, taquitos are deep-fried in oil without any additional healthy ingredient. People can instead have a tostada salad which can help individuals go for healthier options such as veggies and healthy herbs.
- Instead of the chimichangas or wet burritos, go for the grilled fajitas- Extra sauces or dips characterize wet burritos while chimichangas are also deep-fried. Instead of these two (2) menu items, people can go for fajitas which consist of grilled veggies and chicken.
- Instead of Sour cream, go for Salsa- Sour cream is full of calories and fat which lends it its creamy and cool flavor. Salsa, on the other hand, has enough lycopene due to its main ingredient which is tomatoes.