Are Wraps Healthier Than Bread?

turkey and cheese sandwich in a wrap

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

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A wrap is a popular lunch item in the United States. Similar to a sandwich or burrito, a wrap uses a pliable flatbread or tortilla to roll ingredients into a portable, handheld meal.  The term wrap can be used to describe the outer shell and the finished product.

The outer wrap is typically a flour tortilla, which comes in a few varieties. Some have extra ingredients that add a little flavor and color, such as spinach or tomato powder, and they are also available in whole-wheat or gluten-free options. Wraps basically serve the same purpose as sliced bread: they hold ingredients and fillings in one place, so you can eat them without making a complete mess.

Yet wraps seem to have a healthier reputation than sandwiches. Wraps are often loaded with colorful fresh veggies, lean turkey breast, lettuce, tomatoes, and a slice of cheese. 

Wraps vs. Bread

There isn’t much nutritional difference between bread and wraps. Both contain similar ingredients except the bread is leavened with yeast and a wrap is flat. The Nutrition Facts labels show similar nutritional profiles for one wrap and two slices of commercially baked bread. Wraps, however, typically have almost double the sodium and half the protein than bread.

Here, we compare one large Mission 100% Whole-Wheat tortilla with two slices of Pepperidge Farm 100% Whole Wheat bread.

Whole-Wheat Wrap (1 large)
  • 210 calories

  • 5g fat

  • 450mg sodium

  • 34g carbohydrates

  • 5g fiber

  • 6g protein

Whole-Wheat Bread (2 slices)
  • 240 calories

  • 4g fat

  • 240mg sodium

  • 46g carbohydrates

  • 6g fiber

  • 12g protein

What To Look For in Wraps

In addition to the nutrition label, read the ingredients list. Look for wraps made without hydrogenated oil and other trans-fats. Whole-wheat wraps generally contain more nutrition than plain flour wraps. Look for products listed as 100% whole wheat. The first ingredient should be whole-wheat, stone-ground whole-wheat, or 100% whole-wheat.

Colorful tomato or spinach wraps do not offer any additional nutritional benefits and are made with a negligible amount of tomato or spinach powder to provide flavor. Spinach wraps may also rely on food coloring for its green hue. Be sure to scan the label for artificial colors, such as Yellow 5 and Blue 1.

Putting Together Healthy Wraps

When making wraps at home, don't load them up with high-calorie fillings. Instead pack them with leafy greens and colorful veggies rather than extra cheese, dressing, mayonnaise, or oil.

When dining out, order wraps made with lean proteins and little fat—for example, grilled chicken instead of tuna salad. Reduce fat by asking for half or no cheese and swap French fries for a small salad or a side of mixed veggies. Many restaurant prepared wraps are enough food for two people, so consider splitting a wrap with a dining partner or taking half home for another meal.

Wrap Recipes

Most any salad or a combination of healthy protein (meat, poultry, fish, or legumes) and some type of veggie will work to make a delicious wrap. Most of your wrap should consist of the greens or veggies and add just a little dressing for flavor. Try these combinations on whole-grain wraps:

  • Buffalo wing wrap: One-half cup hot shredded chicken breast coated with Buffalo Wing sauce, chopped celery, lots of lettuce, and a tablespoon or two of blue cheese dressing
  • Chicken caesar wrap: One half cup cold cooked chicken breast meat, lots of Romaine lettuce, a tablespoon or two of Caesar salad dressing, and a few shavings of Parmesan cheese
  • Dill salmon and avocado wrap: 2 to 3 ounces of salmon (perfect for leftover salmon), fresh dill, two or three avocado slices, and a tablespoon or two of cream cheese
  • Garden veggie wrap: Your favorite garden salad blend, like sliced tomato, onions, shredded carrots, and cucumbers, mixed with raw spinach and a little Italian dressing
  • Roasted pepper and mozzarella wrap: A mix of roasted red peppers and onions plus sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese; top with balsamic vinegar
  • Scrambled eggs and feta wrap: Two eggs, scrambled with chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and a light sprinkle of feta cheese
  • Tuna salad wrap: Half a small can of drained albacore tuna, a tablespoon of mayo, shredded iceberg or green lettuce
  • Turkey bacon ranch wrap: One half cup cold cooked turkey breast, one slice of cooked bacon, lots of green bib lettuce, and just a dab of ranch dressing
  • Turkey and hummus wrap: Sliced or shredded cold turkey meat, 2 tablespoons of hummus and sliced cucumber and tomato
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  1. American Heart Association. Trans Fats.