Corn, flour, whole wheat: Which tortilla won't spike blood sugar? With tons of dietary fiber here are 9 of the best tortillas for diabetics, plus 2 more low glycemic options!
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Who doesn't love a tortilla - tacos, burritos, fajitas, chimichangas...need I go on?
Here's the problem - White flour tortillas cost probably half of your carb allowance and give you only empty carbs with no nutritional value; a nightmare for blood sugars.
Thanks to the Keto craze tortilla companies have expanded their lines to include low carb options and nutritious ingredients like flaxseed, dietary fiber, and protein; but are they any good? I reviewed 11 low carb tortillas for diabetics so you can save your time and $$ at the grocery store.
How to Pick a Tortilla
Picking foods for blood sugar management means balancing carbs with protein, healthy fat, and fiber. If you can do this all in one food - fantastic! If you can't - no worries. Just add in what you're missing.
Tortillas are normally a grain product so they fall into the carb category. They're fairly low in fat and usually have about 4g protein even in white flour options. It's good to have at least 2g fiber but you'll see that most low-carb options have far more.
Which Tortillas Can a Diabetic Eat?
All the tortillas listed here are good options, and the low carb options eliminate the worry of blood sugar spikes, but the best tortillas are the ones you like. If the tortilla you like is higher in carbs, add in some low carb proteins, healthy fats, and fiber to balance the tortilla's carbs.
To play it safe, stay away from white flour tortillas. They are made from refined wheat flour that strips away the most nutritious parts leaving empty, blood-sugar-spiking carbs.
My Top Pick
Ole Mexican Foods Carb Lean tortillas are my top pick because in addition to their nutrient density they are pillow-y soft and flexible, and similar in taste to white flour tortillas.
Nutrition will vary a bit with different sizes, but 1 tortilla boasts 11 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein. PLUS, they have no hydrogenated oils or added sugar and fewer calories than other brands (if you're weight conscious).
There are 4 flavors in their Carb Lean line:
- High Fiber
- Tomato Basil (I'm not a fan)
- 100% Whole Wheat
- Spinach and Herb
I buy the High Fiber and Spinach and Herb. They taste exactly the same to me but it doesn't hurt to grab the spinach for those extra nutrients (even though it's less than 2%).
Tip - These are my favorite low carb tortillas but they don't do well if they sit in sauce, like as enchiladas. The tortilla becomes soggy and gummy.
If I had to pick a #2 for texture and taste it would be the Nutri-Ricas Carb Watch line by Guerrero. They include flaxseed which boosts nutrition and healthy fat, but on the downside they also use hydrogenated oils.
Whole Wheat Tortillas
Whole grain or whole-wheat tortillas are a healthy choice due to their minimal processing. All parts of the grain are retained which means you get all the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that you lose in the processing of white flour. This gives them a lower glycemic index than white flour tortillas.
Whole grains also have complex carbs ("good carbs") and resistant starches that help regulate blood glucose levels and improve digestive health. So even though whole wheat flour has the same amount of carbs as white flour, you get more nutrition, longer lasting energy, and a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels.
Taste - Very similar to white flour tortillas with the addition of bran.
Texture - Slightly stiffer than white flour tortillas.
"Whole wheat" or "whole grain" is sometimes falsely advertised on packaging. When buying tortillas (and other flour products) check the food label's ingredients to make sure "whole" is listed before the grain. If it reads as "flour," "enriched flour," "multigrain," or "wheat flour" it's not whole grain.
You also want to make sure "whole" is in the first ingredients, indicating the product is mostly made of whole grains.
Corn tortillas are very similar to whole wheat tortillas in grams of carbs and glycemic index. They are a whole grain as well but food labels do not use "whole" before corn because the distinction is not necessary. Refining corn into a product that is not whole produces cornstarch, and that is very different from corn flour foods.
Is a corn or flour tortilla better?
That depends on what you like best. Both options are high carb compared to the other recommendations here, and unbalanced in terms of carbs to fat, protein, and fiber.
White corn tortillas, yellow corn tortillas, and whole grain tortillas have a low glycemic index ranging from 49-52, and all have a low glycemic load of 8.
Glycemic data for blue corn was unavailable, but it is known to have less starch and more protein. You're more likely to see blue corn tortilla chips than blue corn tortillas in the store.
Gluten Free Low Carb Tortillas
Mission's Almond and Cauliflower tortillas are less carbs than corn tortillas and have 4g fiber. They do have a small amount of added sugar, but no hydrogenated oils, and their texture leans more towards a corn tortilla than a flour.
The almond flour tortilla has a neutral taste and is a good substitute if you're afraid to try new foods. The cauliflower tortilla's taste is unique and indescribable. I didn't care for it.
Various brands make coconut wraps, and EggLife makes egg wraps. These are likely found at health food stores or online.
From what I've found, EggLife is the only maker of zero-carb wraps, but no carbs also means no fiber. EggLife's zero carbs aren't that impressive when you see that many low-carb tortillas have 2-4 grams of net carbs with a ton of dietary fiber and a similar amount of protein.
Mission Carb Balance Tortillas
Mission's Carb Balance line gives us tortillas that taste almost exactly like white flour tortillas but with less carbs and a high fiber content.
What I don't like about them is that they still use hydrogenated oils, and the spinach tortilla is not green because of its spinach content, but because it contains blue and yellow dyes. Nonetheless, in term of carbs, they're great.
High Protein Tortillas
Mission's Protein Tortilla wrap isn't technically high protein, but it does have 7g protein and 3g net carbs. The next highest protein wrap is Mission's Spinach wrap at 6g, but since the that wrap has blue and yellow dyes, the Protein Tortilla is the better choice.
Other brands like La Banderita were found at my local grocer, and Siete, La Tortilla Factory, etc. are found in health food stores and online.
What's your tortilla pick for taco night? - Leave a comment
I'm diabetic so I think I made the correct choice by switching to whole west tortillas.
The Gestational Diabetic Chef
That's great, Nora! Your body loves you for it 🙂