Let’s talk about Tortillas.
If you’ve been following the evolution of the Paleo diet, there are a few things that you figured out. Foods that are allowed on the Paleo diet are the foods that have been eaten by our ancestors in the Paleolithic era.
Paleo recipes can be found left and right. But what we want to know here is, can you wrap up whatever you made in a tortilla? This is quite an important question for a couple of reasons.
First of all, they’re delicious! Who wouldn’t want to always have them in the fridge as a fresh emergency-plate? But how will they fit into your diet? Can you eat Tortillas on Paleo?
Should you run to the store and stock up on the Mexican classic, or should you run away from them and never look back? Let’s figure out what’s what.
Can You Eat Tortillas On Paleo?
There is only one answer we can give you right now – NO, you can’t eat Tortillas on the Paleo diet. Tortillas are made out of corn, and corn is on the list of banned foods.
But don’t get bummed out just yet. What we plan to do with this article is to give you some reasons as to why it’s absolutely a good thing to stay away from corn.
To start things off we have to explain a couple of things.
What Is Maize, And Why Is It Not Allowed?
Corn (read – Maize) is a cereal grain, first domesticated by the indigenous people of Mexico about ten thousand years ago. Now that might seem like a long time, but the stone age was a bit further away. And that is how far back we need to go for this.
Maize agriculture was born and bred in Mexico. To be more precise, the Aztec civilisation created it and pretty much turned corn into a culture. A lot of their food was made of the stuff, and even their economy depended on it for a long time. Things haven’t changed immensely since then. Total production of corn surpasses wheat or rice and holds the title of the most consumed food in the world.
While being on the Paleo diet, you’ve probably spent a lot of your days trying to figure out if somebody, somehow, put anything Corn-related in your food. The number of foods that are made of the stuff is mind-boggling.
There are six major types of Corn foods – pod corn, popcorn, flour corn, and sweet corn. Avoiding these is the easy part, it’s the corn starch and syrup that pose the real problem.
See Also: Can You Freeze Corn Tortillas?
Corn Starch And Syrup Are Everywhere
The list of foods and drinks that contain corn syrup is longer than the list of foods that you can eat on Paleo. But let’s go through the major offenders, just so you can get the idea of how difficult it is to get away from corn.
- Soft Drinks
- Fruit Drinks
- Processed Foods
- Salad Dressings
- Cough Syrup
- Almost all baked goods
We could go on, but if we just stop and try to list ALL the soft drinks that have corn syrup in them – we might lose a couple of days. Corn starch has a bit of a different story to tell though. The list of foods for it is long as well, but the foods that contain it are pretty much already on the no-go lists for us Paleo folks.
But what does this all have to do with tortillas you ask? Well, a lot. Tortillas are made out of corn, plain and simple. So eating them while on the Paleo diet can be quite risky.
There are a lot of health risks that come with this popular food.
Corn is a starchy vegetable – just like potatoes or peas that fall into the same category, these foods have very high levels of sugars and carbohydrates. Eating such high levels of these substances can mess up your blood sugar numbers. What happens is that your bloodstream gets crowded with glucose.
When there is so much glucose in your blood, your body can’t regulate it normally. The way your body usually does this is with insulin. So if it has to pump more and more insulin every day, it’s going to give up at some point.
When this happens, you develop Diabetes. The risks that come with the disease can be life-threatening.
You know what healthy nutrients are, but have you ever heard about anti-nutrients?
These substances work against your body and the nutrients it needs.
Corn has many anti-nutrients, which means that when you eat something healthy, your body doesn’t know what to do with that food anymore. So nutrients are not absorbed, and just when you think you’ve started eating healthy – your body dumps it all out without using even an ounce.
The Good News
We know that we’ve given you a lot of bad news. Tortillas are a great way to pack up your meals into a tasty burrito. But if that means breaking the Paleo rules, is it worth it?
Don’t worry though, there are ways to get a tortilla in your diet without wrecking your health. Tortillas are traditionally made out of corn, yes, but you can pretty much make them from whatever you want.
Let’s see what alternatives there are.
There are many ways to make Paleo Tortillas. The Tortilla traditionally has a simple no-nonsense recipe. All-purpose flour, salt, water, and some olive oil – that’s it. Some people add eggs, but that’s not a rule.
Making a Paleo version is just as simple. Replace the part that doesn’t belong, the flour, with a healthy Paleo alternative. There are many options; heck, if you go and dig through this site you’ll find many examples for good flour replacements. Paleo folks are the best source for this info, and we’ll stand by that.
Almond flour is generally a healthy alternative for your flour purposes. It doesn’t smell like almonds and it’s not an ingredient that will turn every meal into an almond, taste-wise. It has a subtlety that some of the other alternatives don’t have, which is why it’s always our first choice in these lists.
The recipe is simple: just take out the usual all-purpose flour, and get the almonds going. The advantage of almond flour is the texture that you get, resembles the traditional stuff just enough. Your tortillas won’t go into crepe territory, but if you’re into that – keep reading.
Coconut flour, as always, is our second choice. The texture is still there, and the taste and smell stay subtle but are still present. To be honest with you, if we had to pick between almond or coconut flour – we’d have a hard time figuring out which one is better.
Don’t get us wrong – coconuts have all the respect that we can give them. There’s so much you can do with it – make oil, flour, milk, etc. If you get a coconut, a lot of doors suddenly open.
The best choice that you have never heard of. Also known as Arrowroot powder in some places, this is a great healthy all-natural flour replacement that could do wonders for your body. This one is at number three for one reason, the taste is there – but the texture just isn’t.
So if you’re a fan of the European crepe, this could be your perfect option. Don’t worry though, this is no ordinary pancake, it’s more flexible and doesn’t break as easily. Sounds like an interesting burrito to us!
The Health Benefits Of The Alternatives
This one depends on what you put in your Tortilla mix, but we‘re going to try and give you some basic guides, just so you can know what to look for.
If you choose to go for the avocado flour, you can be sure that your vitamin intake will be at perfect levels! Avocados are rich in Vitamin K, B6, C, and E. This means you get the antioxidants, your body will handle blood clots better and your immune system will be on its A-Game.
The Coconut doesn’t fall behind either. It’s packed full of fibers which will help with your digestion and blood sugar levels. That same fiber can help your body regulate cholesterol better and all that in combination with some good protein numbers makes it a great tool for losing weight.
A Comparison Of Nutritional Values
Let’s see how all these alternatives compare to the traditional tortilla.
Nutritional Values of Tortillas
The Tortilla, as we can see, is not really a caloric bomb. The carbs are at a relatively low level, the fat levels are low, and the only thing we can complain about is the sodium – but even that isn’t some crazy number that’s going to kill you.
With all that said, the corn part is where all the troubles come from. So if you want to avoid all that, go with one of the alternatives. They can sometimes even be a bit more caloric. But that goes to show you, it’s not all about the calories. It’s everything else that counts.
Can You Eat Tortillas On Paleo – Final Words
We hope that you won’t get too sad about missing out on tortillas or corn in general. There are always risks and benefits to any food – the Paleo diet just tries to minimize the risks and get you more benefits.
The Paleo lifestyle is not always the easiest one to live by, but no diet is simple. You always have to be aware of what you are putting in your body. If you get that down, everything else will be a breeze.