Many popular recipes call for tortillas. Some work just fine with either whole wheat or flour tortillas. For others, the differences in taste and texture can spoil or perfect a dish. The differences between wheat and white flour tortillas also go beyond aesthetics, into the realm of nutrition.
Serving Size and Calories
Nutrition information database the Calorie Counter gives information based on a serving size of one medium tortilla for both types. A single, six-inch diameter, flour tortilla carries 150 calories. A wheat tortilla has only 53 calories.
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A white flour tortilla gets 29 of its calories from fat. That's 3.3 grams of fat per serving. Of these, 0.8 grams are unhealthy saturated fats. The remaining fats are heart-healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. Just five calories in a wheat tortilla come from fats, a total of 0.6 grams. A wheat tortilla's fats consist of 0.1 grams of saturated fats and 0.5 grams of unsaturated fats.
Nearly all of the carbohydrates in either kind of tortilla are complex carbohydrates, as opposed to dietary fiber or sugar. According to Walter Willett, author of "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy," the difference lies in processing. Flour tortillas are made from processed grains, wheat tortillas from whole grains. Willett writes that whole grain foods provide a slow, steady energy supply conducive to healthy eating.
Vitamins and Minerals
A flour tortilla delivers 8 percent of your recommended daily iron and 6 percent of your daily calcium, along with 9 percent of your daily sodium allowance. A wheat tortilla provides less of all three minerals: 2 percent of iron, 4 percent of calcium and 2 percent of sodium.
Up until the early 21st century, lard was a common ingredient in tortillas. Commercially produced lard is made of trans fats, which are so bad for you that many states have passed bans or are considering bans on cooking with the substance at all. In response, most tortilla manufacturers have discontinued the use of lard. However, you should check tortilla ingredient lists for lard and it's pseudonym, hydrogenated oil. Because wheat tortillas hit the market in response to a desire for healthier foods, lard is much more common in flour tortillas.