Why Tortillas Should Be Your New Superfood

Mexico's beloved tortilla is under threat! Consumption is down, despite its calcium and vitamin-rich benefits. Nixtamalization, the secret to its power, unlocks nutrients and makes it a “milk of the poor.”

Why Tortillas Should Be Your New Superfood
Don't ditch the tortillas! Embrace a world of healthy taco fillings.

On a recent Taco Day in Mexico, amidst the joyous symphony of sizzling meats and vibrant salsas, a truth echoed through the streets: the humble tortilla is under siege. Consumption has dipped by a concerning 25-30% in the past fifteen years, according to Amanda Gálvez Mariscal, a culinary crusader from UNAM's Department of Food and Biotechnology. This, she contends, is a nutritional and cultural tragedy.

The tortilla, for the uninitiated, is the canvas upon which the vibrant masterpiece of the taco is built. Made from nixtamalized corn, a process as ingenious as it is ancient, it's far more than just a delivery system for deliciousness. Nixtamalization, a dance with hot water and lime, unlocks a treasure trove of health benefits. It multiplies the calcium content by a staggering 13 times, earning tortillas the affectionate nickname “milk of the poor.” Imagine, a staple food that nourishes not just the soul, but strengthens bones too.

This isn't just a historical footnote. Gálvez Mariscal points out the stark contrast between our ancestors, who thrived on a tortilla-centric diet, and the rise of obesity linked to the infiltration of ultra-processed foods. We're ditching tradition for fleeting flavor explosions, a Faustian bargain for our health.

But fear not, fellow tortilla enthusiasts! This isn't a eulogy, but a rallying cry. The beauty of the tortilla lies in its versatility. Craving a decadent indulgence? Huitlacoche (corn smut, a delicacy for the adventurous) or juicy al pastor can be your companions. But for the health-conscious, a symphony of vegetables awaits. Quelites (wild greens), beans, potatoes – the possibilities are as endless as a Mexican grandmother's repertoire.

Diet fads may come and go, but the tortilla remains a constant, a blank slate for culinary creativity. Grilled instead of fried? A simple request that saves on calories without sacrificing taste. Vegetarians and vegans? Rejoice! This calcium powerhouse fits perfectly into your dietary needs.

This isn't just about individual well-being, but about the heart of Mexican culture. Corn, the tortilla's lifeblood, is woven into the fabric of our nation. It's grown in every state, a testament to its deep-rooted significance. Supporting tortilla consumption strengthens the livelihood of countless families who dedicate their lives to cultivating and preparing this gift from the earth.

A taco is more than a quick bite. It's a celebration of heritage, a commitment to health, and a testament to the enduring power of a simple, ingenious food. Let the tortillas fly, and let's reclaim our love affair with this underappreciated exemplar of Mexican cuisine. After all, who needs fad diets when you have a tradition this delicious and nutritious?