Most wraps aren't as healthy as they seem

  • Not all wraps are healthy. Even those that claim to be made with vegetables are mostly made with processed flour.

    Not all wraps are healthy. Even those that claim to be made with vegetables are mostly made with processed flour.

 
Environmental Nutrition
Posted5/29/2015 6:00 AM

Tortillas and wraps may seem like a healthy way to enjoy a sandwich. They're thinner than bread, so they must have fewer calories, right?

There are plenty of tortillas and wraps that do contain fewer calories than a couple of slices of whole wheat bread, but they run on the small side.

 

If you order a wrap from a restaurant -- some nearly a foot long -- chances are you'd be better off, calorie-wise, with good old-fashioned bread. You could end up getting 300 calories or more just from the wrap vs. 160 from two slices of bread.

But wait, wraps are made with all sorts of whole grains and vegetables, making them packed with fiber and nutrition, right?

Not so fast. True, there are wraps and tortillas on the market made of ingredients such as whole grains and beans, but far more are made primarily from processed flour. And, as for the vegetables, you won't get much in a wrap. For example, spinach or tomato wraps usually contain a very small amount of vegetables -- perhaps even just vegetable flavoring and coloring.

But you don't have to forego "wrapping up" your meal. It's easy to include tortillas and wraps in a healthy diet, as long as you choose wisely. Some helpful hints:

Go for whole grain

Taste- and texture-wise, there is little difference between white (refined flour) and whole wheat tortillas, so it makes sense to go for whole wheat. Check the ingredients list to find those with whole wheat flour at the top of the list. Another whole grain option is corn -- great with Latin-flavored fillings, such as beans, cilantro and fish.

Pack it in

Unlike bread, fillings don't easily fall out of wraps. Take advantage by adding an assortment of healthy ingredients to your sandwiches, such as shredded carrots, diced peppers, avocados and tomatoes.

• Environmental Nutrition is the award-winning independent newsletter written by nutrition experts dedicated to providing readers up-to-date, accurate information about health and nutrition in clear, concise English. For more information, visit www.environmentalnutrition.com.