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March 22, 2024
April 23, 2024
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Corn tortillas, a staple in many Latin American cuisines, offer a nutritious alternative to flour-based options. Despite their carbohydrate content, corn tortillas typically have a lower glycemic index, making them a favorable choice for individuals managing their blood sugar levels.¹ Additionally, they are rich in dietary fiber and essential nutrients like magnesium and B vitamins, which can contribute to overall health and well-being.² Understanding the impact of corn tortillas on glycemic response is crucial for individuals seeking to make informed dietary choices, particularly those with diabetes.

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Glycemic Index Table

To calculate the glycemic index (GI) of corn tortillas, we first need to establish the carbohydrate content per serving. According to the USDA FoodData Central, 100g of corn tortillas contains approximately 21g of carbohydrates.² The glycemic load (GL) per serving can then be calculated using the formula: GI x Carbohydrate per Serving / 100.

Given the GI of corn tortillas can vary depending on factors like processing and cooking methods, a specific value may not be readily available. However, it's generally accepted that corn tortillas have a lower glycemic index compared to flour tortillas due to their higher fiber content and slower digestion.¹

Using the average GI value for corn tortillas of around 52 and the carbohydrate content per serving (100g), we can estimate the glycemic load per serving.¹

GI = 52 (estimated)

Carbohydrate per Serving = 21g¹

GL = (52 x 21) / 100 = 10.92

So, for a serving size of 100g of corn tortillas, the estimated glycemic load would be approximately 10.92.

Glycemic Index

52

Serving Size

100g

Carbohydrate* per Serving (g)

21 g

GL per Serving

10.92

Nutritional Facts

Corn tortillas offer a nutritious profile, serving as a good source of carbohydrates while also containing dietary fiber, protein, and essential micronutrients such as calcium, iron, and B vitamins. A 100g serving typically provides approximately 21g of carbohydrates, 2.4g of fiber, and 4.2g of protein, along with small amounts of fat and various vitamins and minerals.² Incorporating corn tortillas into one's diet can contribute to overall nutrient intake and support healthy eating habits.

The nutritional information below is for 100 g of corn tortillas.²

Calories

429 kcal

Carbs

21 g

Protein

4.2 g

Fiber

2.4 g

Cholesterol

0 mg

Vitamins

C (0 mg)

Sodium

36 mg

Total Fat

3.57 g

Are Corn Tortillas Good for Weight Loss?

Corn tortillas can be a beneficial addition to a weight loss diet when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced meal plan. They are typically lower in calories and fat compared to flour tortillas, making them a suitable option for those looking to manage their weight.² 

Additionally, corn tortillas provide dietary fiber, which can promote feelings of fullness and aid in appetite control.³ However, portion sizes and the choice of fillings should be considered to ensure overall calorie intake aligns with weight loss goals.

Are Corn Tortillas Good for People Living with Diabetes?

Corn tortillas can be a safe option for individuals with diabetes when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. They typically have a lower glycemic index compared to flour tortillas, meaning they cause a slower and more gradual increase in blood sugar levels.¹ Additionally, corn tortillas provide dietary fiber, which can help regulate blood sugar levels and improve overall glycemic control.² However, portion size and toppings should be considered to manage carbohydrate intake effectively.

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Allergies

Allergies to corn tortillas, although relatively rare, can occur and may manifest as symptoms such as hives, digestive issues, or, in severe cases, anaphylaxis. These allergies are typically triggered by proteins found in corn, such as zein and lipid transfer proteins. It's essential for individuals with known corn allergies to carefully read ingredient labels and seek medical advice if they experience any adverse reactions.

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FAQs

What is Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels compared to a reference food, usually glucose. It ranks foods on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher values indicating a faster rise in blood sugar. The glycemic index (GI) scale is typically categorized as follows: Low GI [55 or less], Medium GI [56-69], High GI [70 or higher]. Foods with a high glycemic index digest rapidly and can cause dramatic fluctuations in blood glucose or glucose spikes.

What is Glycemic Load?

Glycemic load (GL) takes into account both the quality (glycemic index) and quantity (carbohydrate content) of carbohydrates in a specific serving of food. It is a measure of how much a particular food will raise blood sugar levels. GL is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index of a food by its carbohydrate content and dividing it by 100. It provides a more accurate representation of the overall impact of a food on blood sugar compared to the glycemic index alone.

Do Corn Tortilla Spike Insulin?

No, corn tortillas do not spike insulin levels. Corn tortillas have a lower glycemic index compared to other types of bread or tortillas made from refined grains. This means that they are digested more slowly, resulting in a slower release of glucose into the bloodstream. As a result, corn tortillas have a minimal impact on insulin levels and can be a healthier option for individuals looking to manage their blood sugar levels.

Are Corn Tortillas Low Glycemic?

Yes, corn tortillas are considered to be low glycemic. The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels. Foods with a low GI (55 or less) are digested and absorbed more slowly, resulting in a slower and more gradual rise in blood sugar levels. Corn tortillas have a lower GI compared to other types of bread or tortillas made from refined grains. This is because corn is a whole grain that contains fiber, which helps slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. Therefore, corn tortillas are a better choice for individuals looking to manage their blood sugar levels.

Can People Living with Diabetes Eat Corn Tortillas?

Yes, people living with diabetes can eat corn tortillas. Corn tortillas can be a suitable option for individuals with diabetes because they have a lower glycemic index compared to flour tortillas. The glycemic index measures how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels. Corn tortillas are made from corn, which is a whole grain and contains fiber. The fiber content in corn tortillas helps slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, resulting in a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels. However, it is important to consider portion sizes and to pair corn tortillas with other low-glycemic index foods to maintain stable blood sugar levels. As always, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian for personalized advice.

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References

  1. The University of Sydney. (2023, May 1). Glycemic Index – Glycemic Index Research and GI Newshttps://glycemicindex.com/
  2. USDA FoodData Central. (2020, October 30). Food Details - Tortilla, corn. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1100857/nutrients
  3. Slavin J. L. (2005). Dietary fiber and body weight. Nutrition (Burbank, Los Angeles County, Calif.), 21(3), 411–418. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2004.08.018

About the author

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.

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About the author

Brittany Barry is a national board-certified health coach and NASM-certified personal trainer based in South Carolina.

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Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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