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Are Whole-Wheat Tortillas Healthy?

Carbohydrates are a necessary part of a healthy diet. Some carbohydrate-rich foods are more nutritious than others. Whole-grain foods are preferable to refined-grain products because the carbohydrates in whole-grain foods break down more slowly and cause a slower rise in blood glucose. Whole-wheat tortillas are a healthy carbohydrate-rich food choice because they are low in fat, sodium and simple sugars and high in fiber.

A typical whole-wheat tortilla weighing 49 grams supplies about 100 calories. Most of the calories in whole-wheat tortillas, 86.3 percent, come from carbohydrates; 16.2 percent come from protein and 5.3 percent from fat. If you follow an average 2,000-calorie per day diet, one whole-wheat tortilla supplies 5 percent of your daily calorie intake, making this a fairly low-calorie item.

Carbohydrates make up the bulk of the calories in whole-wheat tortillas. Whole-wheat grains do not have the outer layers removed -- they contain the bran and germ, as well as the endosperm. The bran and germ contain many of the nutrients such as fiber, B-vitamins, iron, vitamin E and antioxidants. Because a single whole-wheat tortilla contains just 0.5 grams of simple sugar, most of the carbohydrates are complex carbohydrates, which helps reduce spikes in blood sugar levels. One tortilla supplies 7 percent of your daily carbohydrate requirement if you consume 2,000 calories per day.

One tortilla also contains 3.7 grams of dietary fiber, the indigestible part of the grain, around 15 percent of a woman's recommended daily fiber intake. Fiber helps lower blood cholesterol and stabilize blood glucose levels. Adult women should consume 25 grams of fiber per day, and adult men 38 grams per day. However, the average American gets around 15 grams per day, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Fiber also helps prevent constipation and intestinal disorders.

One whole-wheat tortilla contains little fat, only 0.6 grams, of which 0.1 grams is saturated fat, the type of fat most responsible for raising cholesterol levels. A tortilla contains no trans fat -- a fat that may be linked to increased risk of heart disease. Whole-wheat tortillas are also a good source of protein -- one tortilla contains 4.1 grams of protein, or around 8 percent of the daily protein requirement in a 2,000 calorie diet.

Photo Credits:

  • Tortilla Stack image by Brett Mulcahy from Fotolia.com

This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.