What Makes a Healthy Tortilla?

tortilla land

Tortillas are the culinary lovechild of the new world and the old world. Before the Spaniards arrived, flat-breads in central America were made with maize. Then the conquistadors introduced wheat to the natives, and the rest is history.

Today, most burritos, tacos and wraps are made from wheat flour. Tortillas, perhaps because they are so thin, give the impression of being a healthy alternative to bread. is that claim justified?

Let’s take a look at Tortilla Land’s fresh uncooked tortillas. Unlike the ready to eat varieties, these tortillas require a quick 60 seconds in a hot pan (no oil is needed). Here is the ingredient list:

Wheat flour, water, canola oil, salt, sugar.

That list is so simple you can almost imagine making your own tortilla. It’s that easy.

tortilla in the pan

Many prepared tortillas use additives to extend shelf life. For example, this is the ingredient list for Mission Whole Grain Tortillas:

Whole Wheat Flour, Water, Vegetable Shortening (Interesterified Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil and/or Palm Oil), Contains 2% or Less of: Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Aluminum Sulfate, Corn Starch, Monocalcium Phosphate and/or Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Calcium Sulfate), Sugar, Salt, Preservatives (Calcium Propionate, Sorbic Acid and/or Citric Acid), Dough Conditioners (Fumaric Acid, Sodium Metabisulfite and/or Mono- and Diglycerides).

That’s an awful lot of unhealthy ingredients.

Now for a look at nutritional values: A single Tortilla Land tortilla is 140 calories. Compare that to 2 slices of Wonder Bread at 110. The tortilla is so low in fiber it has none! That’s because the flour used is refined, not whole grain flour. Even Wonder has 3 grams of fiber. The Mission Tortilla is made with whole wheat, and has 3 grams of fiber as well.

It’s probably becoming clear to you what you should look for in a tortilla:

  • short ingredient list with no problematic ingredients
  • at least 3 grams of fiber
  • tastes good!

A few brands that we can recommend:

Garden of Eatin’ Whole Wheat Tortillas 

Food For Life Sprouted Grain Tortillas

  • turth

    real tortillas are made from pressed corn and lime juice, nothing else!

    • tennysmom

      Yea may be, but your not going to get much of anything “real” at the store..

      • Aria Gonzalez

        I can get tortillas like that at the local organic place…

  • mfp142

    Sadly, even the gluten free ones I almost bought are chock full of preservatives. Yuck. I walked over to the kitchen isle and bought a tortilla press. It was less than $10!

  • FruitVegNutBean

    There is virtually no mention of the issues with Tortilla Land tortillas under the Fooduate grading system. In addition, Classic Wonder Bread receives a grade “C” but tortilla Land flour tortillas receive a “C+.”

    How do LaFlavorita whole wheat tortillas stack up in your opinion?

  • shirley

    The tortilla land tortillas are AMAZING. There is no substitute if your are a tortilla snob like me. Yes, I’ve made my own but they were not as good and much more work. You can keep your whole wheat and 3g of fiber – I’ll get that elsewhere in my diet.

  • jadegreen_eyz

    What Makes a Healthy Tortilla? My own 2 hands. Lived in NM for 7 years and learned how to make a number of Tex-Mex dishes – including REAL enchilada sauce from dried chile pods (and NO tomato sauce-don’t know who dreamed up that addition).

  • Alyssa B

    I really like Maya’s tortillas, made by the Papa Pita brand. They are whole wheat, come in 2 sizes, and are inexpensive!
    I do like making my own tortillas sometimes, but I find it too labor intensive and time consuming to do on the regular. I’m hoping to get a nice tortilla press in the future so I can have homemade all the time without all the rolling.

  • Maria

    A real tortilla is made with corn flour and water. It really doesn’t need anything else, but adding chiles to the dough or lime juice is also nice. Whenever I visit the states I bring my tortillas from home (made with yummy cactus flour – fiber!) because mexican food in the USA is just not mexican enough.