Corn or Flour Tortillas: Which Are Better For Your Health?

corn or flour tortillas

Taco Tuesday! It has become one of the most beloved days of the week. Who doesn’t love a taco? They’re so good, you can eat them every week! You can choose fish, chicken, beef, or one of a number of vegetarian options for your tacos, which you can then top with a range of yummy accoutrements, like salsa, avocados, beans, and loads of fresh vegetables to amplify their deliciousness and nutrient-density.

But then you get to the shell… What should you use? If you’re carb-conscious, you might choose lettuce, cheese, or even a bowl (as in a regular bowl not a deep-fat fried, calorie-bomb “tortilla bowl” that is often the delivery weapon for fast-food taco salads). But the old standbys are still, yes, standbys: The good ol’ tortilla. So, the big question is: Which is better? Corn or flour tortillas?

Corn Tortillas

While some consider fresh sweet corn a vegetable, corn, which is known globally as the “queen of cereals,” is a grain. So, if you are eating corn tortillas, you would expect to get a higher fiber food with more vitamins and minerals; after all, it’s made from a whole grain. Depending on the brand, that’s usually not the case, and it’s not likely to be a “high fiber” food.

Here’s how corn tortillas stack up, nutritionally. (Using the USDA Food Database, here’s the nutrition facts for ONE La Tortilla Factory organic yellow corn tortilla. This is a national brand that’s fairly easy to find, and by buying organic, it will be non-GMO corn, which means you’re far less likely to be exposed to potentially dangerous chemicals like pesticides and herbicides. Your favorite brand may vary.)

Corn Tortilla Nutrition Facts:

  • Calories: 70
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Fat: .5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 14 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Sugars: 0
  • Calcium: 100 mg
  • Iron: .36 mg

Corn tortillas are also typically smaller than their flour counterparts, but even equated for size, corn tortillas have fewer calories—often significantly less. They’re also lower in carbs and tend to contain fewer ingredients. In the case above, these tortillas are made with water, stoneground organic yellow corn masa flour, organic guar gum, and lime.

To ensure you are getting the whole grain variety, look for tortillas made with whole corn or whole grain corn flour rather than degermed corn. Masa flour is made by soaking corn in lime water, which actually helps boost the nutrition from corn by making B vitamins more available to the body. However, some of the bran is lost during this process, so while it isn’t degermed, many nutritionists do not consider it a whole grain after soaking.

Wheat Flour Tortillas

Next up in our corn or flour tortillas debate is our friend, the flour tortilla.

Here’s how wheat flour tortillas (usually just called “flour” tortillas) stack up, nutritionally. (Here’s the nutrition facts for ONE Mission Foods Flour Soft Taco Tortilla, which is a national brand that’s fairly easy to find, and we looked at the organic for the head-to-head comparison.)

Flour Tortilla Nutrition Facts:

  • Calories: 150
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Fat: 4.5 g
  • Carbohydrate: 24 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Sugar: 1 g
  • Calcium: 18 mg
  • Potassium: 35 mg
  • Sodium: 380 mg

Whole wheat tortillas differ quite a bit. Below, you’ll find the nutrition facts for smaller flour tortillas from La Tortilla Factory.

Whole Wheat Tortilla Nutrition Facts:

  • Calories: 100
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Fat: 2 g
  • Carbohydrate: 18 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Sugars: 1 g
  • Iron: .36 mg
  • Sodium: 220 mg

Whichever one you choose, even the whole wheat flour, you’ll find flour is refined, and during the process, it loses fiber and nutrients.

Corn or Flour Tortillas? Which Should You Choose?

While there’s no accounting for taste —that is, we all have our preferences— corn or flour tortillas differ greatly in taste, texture, and functionality. Corn tortillas tend to be grainier and chewier with a subtly sweet flavor, and they tend to fall apart more easily. Flour tortillas are thicker and softer with a stronger taste, which may take away from the rest of the taco ingredients, and they also tend to be more resilient.

When trying to lose or maintain weight, calories are one of the main concerns. And corn tortillas are lower in calories, carbs, fat, and sugar. They also tend to be the more affordable option. Flour tortillas are a bit higher in protein, but you can easily make up for that with a higher-protein filing. Finally, if you’re looking for authenticity, corn is the clear winner.

So, in the corn or flour tortillas debate, which is the overall winner? Corn takes the cake in almost every category.

All that being said, choose soft corn tortillas over crispy unless you’re crisping them up yourself in your oven. Home-baked taco shells are just as good as fried and are super easy to make in 10 minutes or less.