Are Corn Tortillas Gluten Free?

To cut straight to the chase, most of the time, yes, corn tortillas are gluten-free. Corn tortillas are made from corn flour, which is naturally gluten-free. However, always be aware of the packaging. 

Some items, even made with corn, are not gluten-free due to the processing and packaging processes. However, corn tortillas are, by nature, gluten-free, so let’s look into it. 

Are Corn Tortillas Gluten Free?

How is corn gluten-free, and what do you need to be aware of? 

Let’s talk about gluten, corn, and why those on a gluten-free diet are soon going to realize just how delicious corn is! 

Understanding What Gluten Is?

Gluten is a protein that is often found in rye, barley, wheat, and most other grains. It is a vital part of helping these foods maintain their shape.

It occurs naturally, although it is possible to extract it, concentrate it, and then add it to other products to promote flavor, texture, and even high protein content. 

Gluten can come from any grain we listed above, but it is also commonly found in some other food sources as well. 

Our bodies are made up of digestive enzymes which break down what we eat. There is a specific enzyme known as protease, which helps in the breakdown of proteins inside our bodies, however, it does not work against gluten. 

This means that gluten that has gone undigested will travel to the small intensive, which can cause unpleasant symptoms, and even celiac disease, which is essentially an autoimmune disease.

Even for those who do not suffer from celiac disease, it is still possible to feel sick or unwell after eating foods that are high in gluten, especially if you have an intolerance to gluten.

This can include symptoms such as diarrhea, headaches, bloating, and skin rashes. 

Gluten is not bad for you, it is a good nutrient, fiber, and protein source, and most people can consume it and get its benefits, but not all. 

What Foods Are Gluten-FreeFree?

If you are not able to digest gluten there are several foods and drinks you will want to avoid ingesting.

These include: 

  • Ale.
  • Beer.
  • Bread.
  • Cake.
  • Cereal. 
  • Crackers.
  • French Fries.
  • Malt.
  • Pasta
  • Pies.
  • Salad Dressings.
  • Sauces.
  • Snack Foods (Potato chips & Tortilla chips).
  • Wafers

Ingredients To Be Wary Of

If you cannot ingest gluten, then you should also be on the lookout for certain foods listed on your food packaging. Any of the following could mean that there is gluten in a food item. 

  • Barley.
  • Bran.
  • Durum.
  • Farina.
  • Flour
  • Glucose.
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein.
  • Modified Food Starch.
  • Rye.
  • Semolina.
  • Spelt.
  • Wheat.
Are Corn Tortillas Gluten Free (1)

Is Corn Gluten Free?

Corn itself is gluten-free, naturally, unlike other grains, it does not contain gluten. 

Plain gluten, which is typically eaten straight from the cob, is 100% gluten-free.

Yet, when you are consuming other corn products which have been processed, you need to be careful and always check the full ingredient list before you purchase and eat it, to ensure there are no gluten traces.

Corn is safe for you to eat if you are on a gluten-free diet, as long as it is not consumed with or alongside processed foods, such as some of the ones we listed above.

However, always be aware of potential cross-contamination.

This means you need to be extra careful of brands that may not practice total food safety in their processing warehouses when it comes to gluten.

Those who have celiac disease should be well-versed in the varieties of corn and corn products which are safe and not safe to eat.

How Do Corn Tortillas Get Made?

Being aware of how corn tortillas are made can help to settle your mind to know they are 100% gluten-free. 

There are 3 main ingredients in a corn tortilla: 

  • Salt.
  • Hot water.
  • Masa Harina aka. Corn flour.

Usually, corn tortillas will be made by curing maize in lime water, this will peel the skin off of the corn kernel. Once this is done, the maize will be ground up before it gets kneaded into a dough. 

The dough gets rolled out, cut to shape, and then cooked. 

We usually buy ready-made corn tortillas or corn flour from our grocery stores. If you buy corn flour, you can make your corn tortillas by making dough. But, generally, it is easier to buy the ready-made ones. 

If you are extra cautious and wary of any potential contamination, it is still good to know how to make these tortillas yourself, though. 

Corn Tortilla VS Wheat Tortilla: Which Is Healthier?

Two primary types of tortillas exist today, corn, and flour. Corn is more popular in the US as it is healthier. They are made from whole grains, so it is lower in calories but higher in nutrients and fiber than a flour tortilla. 

They are also usually smaller, so they are great for portion control. 

That being said, you should never simply assume that just because a tortilla is a corn tortilla, it is 100% gluten-free. Always read the ingredients list before you buy any that have been ready-made.

Flour tortillas are large, and higher in calories, they are also usually very filling. We love tortillas and say that a large flour tortilla feels about the same amount as 3 corn tortillas. 

So even for those who are not on a gluten-free diet, corn is a great way to diet and work on your portion sizes.

Overall: Are Corn Tortillas Gluten Free?

Corn tortillas, by nature, are gluten-free. However, the process for making them is not always gluten-free. Therefore, always make sure that you check the packaging to be certain that there is no hidden gluten in there. 

If you are extra cautious, corn tortillas are easy enough to make, and provided you know a trusted corn flour producer, you can buy some corn flour and easily make them yourself at home. 

So, yes corn tortillas are gluten-free, but cross-contamination is always a risk! 

Mark Williams
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