Health Benefits Of Corn Tortillas

The health benefits of corn tortillas are many. Corn tortillas are a staple of Latin America, much like bread is a staple in Canada and the United States.


When I say “health benefits” as it concerns corn tortillas, we can’t forget “healthy for the budget.” One of the big benefits of using corn tortillas is that they are very budget-friendly! In Canada, where I live, it’s not easy to find cheap ones, you may have to go to a Mexican or South American specialty store. However, in the United States, every major supermarket has large racks full of them, at very reasonable prices. Corn tortillas are a way to “keep body and soul together” for very little money. And you can do a lot with them, as I’ll note below.

The Health Benefits

Corn tortillas are a whole-grain food. We could almost say “end of story,” because as noted with many different natural foods, there are usually many health benefits when a food is whole-grain, and less when some part of the whole is taken out. Here are some specific benefits, though.

  1. Low in salt. Most corn tortillas have no sodium! What processed foods can you find without added salt? You have to buy special low-sodium foods to get that; corn tortillas generally have no added salt.
  2. Gluten-free. Corn is naturally gluten-free, so you can safely use corn in any form, including corn tortillas, if you need to follow a gluten-free diet.
  3. High fiber content. One of the standout health benefits of corn tortillas is their high fiber content. Your body’s need for fiber is well known. Fiber reduces the risk of several chronic diseases. These include cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. As well, high fiber helps in preventing constipation and promoting regularity.
  4. No additives or fillers. Typically a corn tortilla is simply made with corn flour, without additives. Thus when you eat a corn tortilla, you are not getting a long list of unpronounceable fillers, with unknown effects on your body that you may not be aware of.
  5. Lots of nutrients. Corn tortillas contain carbs, fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals. While they are probably not high enough in many nutrients to be considered a “superfood,” they would contain a high number of healthy carbs, for sure!
  6. Low in calories and fat. Generally corn tortillas have no added fat. One typical corn tortilla contains only 50-60 calories. The same cannot be said for flour tortillas, so if you are looking to limit calories, and have been using flour tortillas, you can switch to corn tortillas.
  7. Weight Management and feeling of “fullness.” In addition to being low in calories, corn tortillas have protein and fiber that help you feel full longer – especially if eaten together with other foods such as beans.

How to Prepare Corn Tortillas for Eating

They need to be heated. They have a completely different texture pulled cold from the package than they do after heating them. They are made to be heated before eating.

The “official” way to prepare a corn tortilla is the heat a frying pan to medium high, then toast them for 15-30 seconds on each side. They should have just a little bit of dark or brown on them – and they will be pliable enough to wrap other foods inside.

Another way to heat corn tortillas “in a pinch” is just drop one tortilla in each side of a toaster. They won’t be nice and flat when you pull them out, they tend to “crumple up,” but the taste and texture is the same.

What To Do With Corn Tortillas After Heating

You wouldn’t need this section in many parts of Latin America. It would be like someone in the United States or Canada asking: “Ummm, how do you use bread?” But for those who might not really have used corn tortillas much at all before, here are a few thoughts.

  1. Just add butter or margarine. I’m not saying this is the healthiest way to use tortillas – the healthier the margarine the better, of course – but it’s cheap and tastes good.
  2. Simply add beans. The beans can take any form – refried is very common – but when you add beans to corn tortillas, you get a complete protein. Plus the flavors compliment each other very well. Sour cream would also be a great addition to corn tortillas and beans.
  3. Make tacos. When many people think of tortillas, tacos may very well be the first thing that comes to mind. The typical taco has either beans or meat, then cheese, lettuce, sour cream – or pretty much whatever you want to put on it. A taco made with a corn tortilla prepared from scratch is different from one you make with the hard shells that come in a taco kit. The corn tortillas prepared from scratch can be wrapped around the ingredients inside – a much more pleasant eating experience, in my opinion.
  4. Use them in baked dishes. There are a number of great recipes that use corn tortillas! Mexican casserole, beef and black bean taco bake, chicken tortilla bake, etc.
  5. Quesadillas, burritos, tostadas, enchiladas, taquitos are variations of Latin American dishes that use corn tortillas. Now I’m making myself hungry!

Corn Tortillas vs Tortilla Chips

Both are made from corn. You can make tortilla chips from corn tortillas. But if you go to the supermarket and buy tortilla chips, they will probably have been deep-fat fried – and loaded with sodium. So – not as healthy!

Did I Say Budget-Friendly Yet?

Yes, I did – at the top of this post! But it’s worth repeating. Go to your local supermarket, Walmart, etc., and take a look. You may be surprised at the incredible amount of tasty eating you can buy from the tortilla rack for just a few dollars! There’ll be no crying at your bill total at the checkout if you make corn tortillas a mainstay in your diet!

In Conclusion…

The simple corn tortilla is one of the least expensive healthy foods available. It’s highly versatile, and can be used in many tasty and healthy ways. Let’s learn something from our Mexican and other Latin American neighbors!

If you have any thoughts or questions to share on how to buy or use corn tortillas, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.





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