Are corn tortillas healthy? The days of thinking that Latin American food is not healthy are over. Although it is slowly changing, there was never much representation of our food in the health industry.
When visiting the doctor’s office or watching advertisements for healthy food, we mainly see salads, steamed vegetables, y comida sin sazón. I remember being a teenager thinking that I had to eat boring salads and foods outside of my culture for them to be considered “healthy”. Now, as a Mexican-American dietitian, I can say with confidence that Latin American cuisine includes some of the most nourishing foods in the world.
Are Corn Tortillas Healthy?
Could it be that our food is just so delicious that it’s hard to believe it can be part of a healthy diet? There are lots of theories about why our food started getting demonized but today I want to bust these myths by showing you how to enjoy tu comida favorita every day in a balanced way.
Let’s start with the infamous tortilla! Tortillas have been getting a bad wrap for as long as I can remember. During an initial appointment with me, some of my patients will proudly tell me “I stopped eating tortillas” or “I swapped out tortillas for whole grain bread”. As if our bodies could tell the difference between 30 grams of whole-grain bread and 30 grams of corn tortillas. The truth is that our bodies need carbohydrates, especially complex carbohydrates that come from whole grains like corn tortillas and whole-grain bread.
Tortillas can be part of a balanced diet and can be eaten daily. The key to making a nourishing meal is learning how to make it balanced. A balanced meal contains protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lots of vegetables. Here are a few examples of nourishing and balanced meals that include tortillas:
Corn Tortillas in a Balanced Meal:
Frijoles de la olla:
- Carbohydrate: 2-3 corn tortillas
- Protein: 1 cup frijoles de la olla
- Veggies: 1 cup of pico de gallo with shredded cabbage
- Healthy fats: avocado, queso fresco o cotija
Caldo de pollo:
- Carbohydrate: 2-3 corn tortillas
- Protein: 1-2 pieces of chicken
- Veggies: lots of chayote, carrots, calabacita
- Healthy fats: Avocado
How to Eat Healthy and Delicious
The goal is to balance our meals with each food group and try to add as many vegetables as we can. Many of our cultural dishes are already packed with nutrients and contain vegetables. Some of these dishes include calabacitas a la Mexicana, rajas con crema, ceviche, aguachile, caldo de pollo, picadillo, chiles rellenos, ensalada de nopal, verdolagas, pepino y jicama con chile y limon, and many more!
Some dishes aren’t originally balanced such as sopa de fideo. However, we can add vegetables and protein to make it a balanced meal. I love adding garbanzos for protein, carrots for extra vegetables, and avocado for healthy fat. Avocados are a unique and healthy fruit because they contain unsaturated fat — and can act as a nutrient booster by helping increase the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, K, and E. So remember that adding avocado and healthy fats to a bowl of nourishing vegetables is so important!
Are Corn Tortillas Healthy???
Corn tortillas can definitely be part of a balanced and nutritious diet, no matter your health conditions. Latin American food is delicious, nourishing, and can always be made in a balanced way. Enjoying the meals we eat is important and so is keeping our culture alive so always feel proud to bring your cultura to the table.