Choosing whole wheat tortillas over tortillas that are made with refined flour can help protect you from developing diseases such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The milling process used for white flour removes the majority of nutrients including folic acid, iron and fiber. A few nutrients are added back into the flour, but the final product is not as nutrient-dense and won't give you the same benefits as whole wheat products. Whole wheat tortillas are versatile enough to use in any meal. Consider wrapping eggs and sauteed vegetables for a delicious on-the-go breakfast wrap.
Choosing whole wheat tortillas can help you control your weight. A study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found that women who ate whole grains weighed less and were 49 percent less likely to gain weight than women that chose refined grain products. Whole grains are a good source of fiber, which can make you feel full and eat less. An 8-inch tortilla will give you 12 percent of the daily value of fiber. You can make a healthy, high-fiber lunch by filling your whole wheat tortilla with fresh spinach, tomatoes, carrots and salsa.
Bone Health `
Whole wheat tortillas are also a good source of calcium; one 8-inch tortilla will provide you with 10 percent of the daily value. You need calcium for more than keeping your teeth and bones strong; calcium is also needed for your brain to send messages to the rest of your body and for the secretion of hormones and enzymes. Adults need between 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium each day.
Whole grain foods like wheat tortillas are a good source of manganese, a mineral that your body relies upon for normal brain and nerve function. Manganese is an important component of superoxide dismutase, a strong antioxidant that protects you from free radicals. Free radicals can damage your cells and DNA, which may play a key role in aging and the development of many diseases and cancers. Not eating enough manganese can lead to infertility, malformed bones and seizures. Eating an 8-inch tortilla will give you 20 percent of the daily value of manganese.
Eating whole wheat tortillas can help keep your heart healthy. A study published in "Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases" found that people who ate at least 2.5 servings of whole grains each day had a 21 percent lower risk of having a cardiac event than people who ate 0.2 servings. Whole grains contain antioxidants, lignans and fiber that work to keep your heart healthy by reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. Another study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” found that eating three servings of whole wheat foods each day for 12 weeks reduced blood pressure by 6 millimeters of mercury when compared to people who ate only refined grain products. This small reduction in blood pressure reduced the development of coronary artery disease and stroke by 15 percent among people who ate whole wheat products.
- The World's Healthiest Foods: Whole Wheat
- MedicineNet: Fiber
- Mission Foodservice: Nutrition
- National Institutes of Health: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Calcium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Manganese
- Bastyr Center for Natural Health: Eat Whole Grains for Heart Health Benefits
- Whole Grains Council: Health Studies on Whole Grains
- NutriMirror: Whole Wheat Tortillas 7.5 - 8 in Life Balance Plus (Mission)
Kate Smith is a licensed dietitian working in New England. She holds a bachelor’s degree in human nutrition and foods from West Virginia University, as well as a master’s degree in medical dietetics from Ohio State University.