Most cultures across the globe can't do without carbs like bread on their menus. But then, as a diabetic, you must make a few lifestyle changes that may include cutting down on certain carbohydrates and avoiding others altogether.

Tortillas are widely considered as some of the healthier carbs options for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, not every tortilla is healthy for diabetics. Some are made of ingredients with a higher glycemic index, while others have high amounts of sodium.

In this review, I will highlight some of the best tortillas for diabetics (and their health benefits). But before diving into details, let's determine if and why tortillas are a healthy option for you.

Can Diabetics Eat Tortillas?

The medical and nutritional recommendation for diabetics is to avoid heavily processed, high-carbs diets like white bread, rice, and pasta.

As with Mexican recipes, most tortillas are made of corn flour or plain flour, which has a relatively high index and could be unhealthy for people with diabetes when taken excessively.

Nonetheless, there are wide varieties of tortillas, including healthier options for diabetic people.

Corn Tortilla Vs. Cornflour: Any Difference?

Corn tortillas and cornflour are often mistaken to be the same thing. But while they may look alike, they are quite different, whether health-wise or nutrition-wise!

Corn flour is derived from finely-ground corn grains, whereas the main ingredient in corn tortillas is "masa harina" (alkalized corn grains ground into flour). Despite the similarity of these two products, they are entirely different and can't substitute for each other.

What Types of Tortillas Can a Diabetic Eat?

According to the American Diabetes Association, a healthy diabetic diet should have sufficient non-starchy vegetables, a decent amount of fruits, lean proteins, whole grains, starchy vegetables, and low (or non-fat) dairy.

With this in mind, some examples of healthy tortillas for diabetics include,

Corn tortillas

Prepared from masa (or ground nixtamalized corn), corn tortillas are considered whole-grain food and can be MODERATELY included in a diabetic's diet plans.

From the Mexican perspective, there are three types of corn tortillas, and they include,

  • White corn tortillas,
  • Blue corn tortillas, and
  • Yellow corn tortillas.

However, as far as diabetes is concerned, the most reliable among these three is the blue corn tortillas since they have less starch, more protein, and a lower glycemic index than white and yellow corn.

The glycemic index of corn tortillas

The more diabetics opt for foods with a low glycemic index, the less likely they are to experience blood sugar spikes.

Carbohydrates with a score of 55 or less on the glycemic index (GI) scale are considered low glycemic foods. Corn tortillas are in this category, with a GI score of 52. For the best result, however, your dietician could recommend pairing your corn tortillas with additional fiber, vegetables, and plant-based protein like beans.

Pros

  • Gluten-free product
  • Less calorie count
  • Less fat
  • Less sodium
  • Reduced net carbs
  • Made from whole grains
  • Rich in fiber and magnesium
  • Falls within a low GI score and glycemic load
  • Slightly smaller than whole wheat tortillas and has built-in portion control.
  • A good carbohydrates source for diabetic people

Cons

  • Unlike flour tortilla, corn tortilla breaks easily.
  • Some people find the texture unpleasant

Flour tortillas

Flour tortillas (or wheat tortillas) are another healthy carbohydrate source for diabetics, provided they are consumed in moderation. The primary difference between corn and flour tortillas is the essential ingredient. Corn tortillas are a product of corn, while flour (wheat) tortillas are made from whole wheat flour.

Overall, whole wheat is healthy for people with diabetes, although it contains gluten, which is not ideal for those with celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or wheat allergy. Some manufacturers use highly processed wheat (refined grain) and not whole grain. Processed wheat may contain other ingredients that may spike your blood sugar. Hence, ensure your tortilla product is "whole wheat" and not just "wheat."

The most exciting part of flour tortillas is that despite having almost twice the calories and fat as corn tortillas, they maintain a relatively lower glycemic index of 30 and a glycemic load of 8.

Glycemic Index of flour (whole wheat) tortillas

With a glycemic load of 8 and a GI score of 30, flour tortillas are less likely to spike your blood sugar than corn tortillas, which have a GI score of 52 and a glycemic load of 12. Still, both corn and flour tortillas fall with a low index score (below 55), making them ideal for diabetics.

Pros of a flour tortilla

  • It contains more calcium and iron.
  • A softer texture
  • Whole wheat (whole grain) is an excellent source of fiber.
  • Flour tortillas have a low GI score and glycemic load.
  • Whole wheat tortillas and whole wheat bread are ideal for people with diabetes when taken moderately.

Cons of flour tortillas

  • Flour tortillas tend to have higher calories.
  • They contain gluten (although this has no direct effect on diabetics)
  • Flour tortillas are larger and sturdier, giving them less portion control

Low-carb tortillas

As the name suggests, low-carb tortillas contain fewer carbs. But since a product's total carbs don't necessarily determine its GI score, it's a matter of choice and taste to either go for low-carb tortillas or opt for other higher-carb products that won't spike your blood sugar.

Portion Sizing

When consuming tortilla products with Type 2 diabetes — whether corn or flour tortillas — one thing is sure: you must not exceed a certain amount of calorie intake, to reduce the chances of blood sugar spikes.

Corn tortillas, for instance, come in smaller sizes, with a 6-inch diameter, while flour tortillas are usually sturdier and larger ( 8-10 inches in diameter). Thus, the nutritional recommendation is to portion your tortillas appropriately, depending on the type. This proactive measure will help you control the number of glycemic nutrients you consume in a single serving.

The total carbs allotted for people with diabetes is roughly 45 to 60 grams per meal for men and 30 to 45 grams per meal for women.

For every 100-gram serving of corn tortilla, you consume about 43.2 grams of carbohydrates and 159 calories. And for every 100-gram serving of flour tortilla, you are ingesting approximately 48 grams of carbs and 304 calories, meaning that the net carbs in both corn and flour tortillas (per 100-gram meal) roughly fall within the recommended range.

The rule of thumb should be to stick to one 100-gram of corn or flour tortillas per meal. But consult your dietician for the best result, especially given individual differences.

What is the Effect of Tortillas on GI?

The effect of tortillas on glycemic index (GI) score depends on the type of tortilla in question. For instance, Tortillas made from whole wheat kernels are low on the glycemic index (30). But this glycemic score can rise to 70 when your tortilla is made from processed wheat kernels (refined wheat flour).

The nutritional recommendation for Type 2 diabetes patients is to stick with whole grain tortillas. Whether you are going for corn or wheat tortillas, ensure they are not processed into white flour, as this increases the GI. Why exactly? Refined grains contain the endosperm (the internal carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, and vitamins layer). They don't have the required fibers, good fats, and antioxidants to balance those constituents predisposing you to high blood sugar.

If you buy tortillas from your local grocery store, you may want to be sure about the primary ingredients and in what quantity. Otherwise, homemade tortillas could be a better option.

How to Include Tortillas in Your Diet?

There are many possible methods to include tortillas in your diet. But whichever way you prefer, always include lots of fiber and vegetables. I strictly recommend whole grains since that is the healthier option for diabetics. Also, ensure you maintain one wrap of 6-inch tortilla per serving for the following:

  • Tacos: Tacos for people with diabetes is unlike the regular ones that are all about topping a pile of meat with lettuce. Make your tacos healthier by adding some onions, mushrooms, cabbage, and any other vegetable you crave.
  • Wraps: wrap your tortillas around shredded carrots, bell peppers, lean meats, fish, and other healthy food options.
  • Burritos: This can be another tasty food option for you and even your family, provided you balance your burritos with healthy proteins and veggies and portion your meals appropriately.

Best Tortillas for Diabetics

It can be frustrating if, for health reasons, you are restricted from your best foods. Many tortillas on the market may pose potential dangers, which is why you should be intentional about your choices. To make things easier for you, we've got a few selected tortilla wraps for diabetics available both online and at your local grocery shop.

One thing is sure: all the tortillas reviewed on the page are healthy for diabetics who stick to one tortilla per serving. But since our bodies react differently to products, the best tortilla for you depends on you, your taste buds, your allergies, and your unique health condition.

I personally love Mr. Tortilla's 1 Net Carb tortilla wrap because of its smaller size, low carb and calories, and yummy taste. But you can go for Norigami's tortilla wraps if you are gluten-sensitive.

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1. Mr. Tortilla 1 Net Carb Tortilla Wraps
15,106 Reviews
$29.95 −$13.67 $16.28 Check Latest Price

1. Mr. Tortilla 1 Net Carb Tortilla Wraps

If you are a fan of smaller wraps, then Mr. Tortilla has got you covered with this 4" taco tortilla. One thing I love about this wrap is that you can rest assured you are not consuming so much because of the small size. It is also low on carbohydrates (1 net gram) and fats and an excellent multi-grain option for both keto and vegan diet plans. Taking more than a wrap doesn't put you at any risk of spiking your blood sugar.

NUTRITIONAL CONTENT: One Serving = 1 tortilla wrap (11g)

  • Total calories: 15
  • Fat: 0.5 g
  • Saturated fat: 0 g
  • Sodium: 40 mg
  • Carbs: 3 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: 1 g

2. Norigami Gluten-Free Wraps With Chia Seeds
549 Reviews

2. Norigami Gluten-free Wraps With Chia Seeds

Norigami's tortilla wraps are not only safe for you as a diabetic because of their low-carb content; they are also healthy for you if you have celiac disease since they are gluten-free. However, I must mention that I tried this tortilla not because I am allergic to gluten but because I wanted something different from whole grains yet safe for people with diabetes. The active ingredients in this grain-free tortilla include eggs, pea protein, agave, glycerin, and chia seeds.

NUTRITIONAL CONTENT: One Serving = 1 tortilla wrap (4.3 g),

  • Total calories: 15
  • Fat: 0.5 g
  • Saturated fat: 0 g
  • Sodium: 15 mg
  • Carbs: 1 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Sugar: <1 g
  • Protein: 2 g

3. La Tortilla Factory Low Carb Flour Tortilla
165 Reviews

3. La Tortilla Factory Low Carb Flour Tortilla

Thanks to La Tortilla, my tacos even got better! Rich in wheat flour, this low-carb tortilla maintains a soft texture that doesn't fall apart easily, making it ideal for tacos! Since it has no artificial/added sugar, you can be sure the delicious taste is coming from safe ingredients - low in calories, low in carbs, high in protein and fiber, perfect for people with diabetes!

NUTRITIONAL CONTENT: One Serving = 1 tortilla wrap (42 g)

  • Total calories: 70
  • Fat: 2.5 g
  • Saturated fat: 1 g
  • Sodium: 250 mg
  • Carbs: 15 g
  • Fiber: 9 g
  • Sugar: 1 g
  • Protein: 5 g
  • Calcium: 43 mg
  • Potassium: 18 mg

4. Tia Lupita Cactus Corn Tortillas
760 Reviews

4. Tia Lupita Cactus Corn Tortillas

Not everyone loves wheat! That's why the Tia Lupita Cactus corn tortilla is another interesting option to consider for your tacos. They are gluten-free, non-GMO, and super-healthy for kids and adults. I recommend warming them a bit to make them more pliable, so they don't fall apart when you fill them up.

NUTRITIONAL CONTENT: One Serving = 1 tortilla wrap (22 g)

  • Total calories: 30
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Saturated fat: 0 g
  • Sodium: 25 mg
  • Carbs: 6 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Protein: <1 g
  • Calcium: 60 mg

5. Mission'S Carb Balance Whole Wheat Tortillas
42 Reviews

5. Mission's Carb Balance Whole Wheat Tortillas

I've received many complaints about how a serving of most diabetic tortillas is too small to keep one going until the next meal. Well, the solution to that problem is here: this 10-inch whole wheat tortilla is almost double the size of the average tortilla out there, yet it remains relatively low on carbs and calories and rich in fiber! As a diabetic, you can fill up your belly with a single serving without risking a blood sugar rise.

NUTRITIONAL CONTENT: One Serving = 1 tortilla wrap (43 g)

  • Total calories: 70
  • Fat: 3 g
  • Saturated fat: 1 g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.5 g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 0 g
  • Trans fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 320 mg
  • Carbs: 19 g
  • Fiber: 15 g
  • Sugar: 0 g (No added sugar)
  • Protein: 5 g
  • Calcium: 70 mg
  • Potassium: 20 mg

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Tortilla Chips Healthy?

Although it's natural to crave crunchy, well-salted, and tasty chips, Tortilla chips are not an option for diabetic patients. First, they are rich in sodium, which can cause diabetes complications like high blood pressure and heart disease.

Another disadvantage of chips is that they feel light but have a high concentration of empty calories. So it is more challenging to control the amount you consume, making you more susceptible to blood sugar spikes!

It's fair to argue that you can ration the number of chips you eat. But the fact remains that it's easier said than done. So avoiding them altogether is your safest bet.

If you can't resist, make sure to read the ingredients label, eat in moderation, and check your blood sugar levels regularly.

Tortilla Chips

Conclusion

Diabetes is a food-sensitive condition that can either improve or worsen depending on your food choices and lifestyle. Your ability to manage diabetes, keep your blood sugar within optimal range, and prevent or delay complications starts with the proper diet, such as the healthy tortillas reviewed on this page.

Before settling for any tortilla brand, find out from your doctor if you have any allergies and discuss your allergies with a dietician for proper counsel.

Last update on 2022-09-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

About the Author

Inez Briand

Inez Briand partner of a type 1 diabetic. She has always been interested in traveling, and now that she has a partner with diabetes, her interest in cooking even more healthily has skyrocketed. She loves finding new recipes to cook for her partner and family, and loves sharing any food and nutrition-related articles on Diabetic & Me.

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