Taco Bell is one of the most popular fast food restaurants in the United States and Canada. Also, a number of stores are present in various countries around the world. With over 7,000 restaurants serving more than two billion customers every year, Taco Bell is a highly successful franchise. But let’s see below the answer to a controversial question: is taco bell healthy?
Firstly, Taco Bell has been criticized along with other fast food restaurants for a high-calorie, high-fat diet. Meanwhile, others have praised the franchise for its attempts at incorporating a better-rounded menu. So is Taco Bell healthy, or is it just another fast food chain?
What Is Taco Bell? An In-Depth Look
The majority of Taco Bell’s menu is comprised of favorites of American Mexican cuisine. Tacos, burritos and quesadillas are all common. Other popular, innovative menu items include the Crunchwrap Supreme and the Mexican Pizza.
In order to determine if Taco Bell is healthy, we need to consider the ingredients commonly found in the food. Beef and chicken are the only types of meat used. Beef is either seasoned ground beef or seasoned steak. Refried beans, nacho cheese and sour cream are common ingredients. Also, shredded cheese is sometimes used. Lettuce, tomatoes and onions round out the most common ingredients. Flour and/or corn tortillas are used in virtually every menu item. Other ingredients, such as potatoes and rice, are found occasionally in various options.
Central to the Is Taco Bell Healthy debate are the nutritional facts of the menu. What does the nutritional information in Taco Bell’s menu tell us about the health and quality of their food?
Nutrition Facts on Taco Bell
Studying the nutritional information, one realizes that the menu at Taco Bell is actually quite diverse. The calorie content varies dramatically from one menu item to the next. Tacos average between 160 and 200 calories apiece, which is a reasonable portion size. However, their burritos can have as many as 700 or 800 calories.
No matter the menu item, several trends are noticeable. Most of the Taco Bell menu is high in both fat and sodium. Their XXL Grilled Stuft Burritos, for example, all have over 2000 milligrams of sodium. However, not all of their items are so saturated. But even their tacos have a minimum of 300-500 mg of sodium. While this is considerably less, most people eat several tacos in a single sitting. So the result is similar.
Thanks to ample amounts of sour cream and nacho cheese as well as meat, fat is also a significant concern.
The Dangers of Taco Bell
No fast food is ever completely healthy or completely unhealthy. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you think beyond the bun.
- High in Fat – A 7-Layer burrito has 17 grams of fat. The Beefy 5-Layer has 21 grams. The A.M Crunchwraps have over 40 grams of fat! Diets high in fat can lead to serious problems.
- High in Sodium – While there are some options that limit fat, there are no low-sodium options. Even the salads are saturated with salt. High sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure. It is especially important to minimize your sodium intake if you are over 50 years of age.
- Unhealthy ingredients – While there is nothing wrong with many of the ingredients used in Taco Bell, sour cream and particularly nacho cheese are not very good for you.
Are There Benefits to Eating at Taco Bell?
Is Taco Bell healthy enough to be a part of a regular diet? The answer depends on how you eat. Their breakfast menu is very high in fat, and should definitely be avoided. However, many of their items are lower in fat and sodium content. This includes their tacos and especially the Fresco menu,
In fact, Taco Bell is actually getting healthier. Business Insider reports that since hiring a professional dietitian, Taco Bell has reduced their sodium content by 15%. Moreover, they switched over to cage-free eggs, introduced healthier menu options and. The future is also bright: they are working on removing artificial ingredients.
Taco Bell isn’t someplace you’ll want to eat at every day, but they do have better options than most fast food places. Even if you’re on a diet, you can likely find items lower in fat, calories and sodium. This makes Taco Bell a great choice to indulge yourself without violating that diet.
Wrapping It Up
Eating at Taco Bell is no substitution for cooking at home. So you should always exercise care and caution before you indulge. However, Taco Bell has more healthy eating choices than almost any other fast food chain. The modest amount of fried food such as nuggets and fries helps this. Is Taco Bell healthy in the long-term? Not really. But Taco Bell is healthy enough for the occasional treat.
We’d love to hear about your experiences when eating at Taco Bell. Do you feel like they have enough options for your life?
Images from depositphotos.com.