🌮 Is Taco Bell® Healthy? 🌯

 

When you think of a fast food chain like Taco Bell, you likely think of tasty Mexican food, but don’t picture it as particularly healthy. This is because fast food chains are there to make money and aren’t especially concerned about the food’s nutritional value. Although, admittedly, Taco Bell has been making strides in that direction.

Fast food is meant to be quick, convenient and affordable. In other words, the foods that are sold at fast food restaurants aren’t necessarily meant to be nutritious choices. However, this doesn’t mean that these restaurants aren’t a good option if you’re looking for something quick and simple that won’t take much time preparing.

Key Takeaways

    • What defines healthy food isn’t settled science
    • Taco Bell offers lots of mix-n-match options – some healthy, some not
    • Taco Bell is making efforts to offer healthier fast food
    • Eating fast food isn’t going to hurt you – unless you eat it exclusively

Fast food isn’t always bad for you – in fact, it can be quite beneficial if you choose your meals wisely. Many of the meals sold at fast food restaurants provide protein, fat, carbs, vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients when eaten as part of a balanced diet.

The problem is that a lot of people who eat fast food do so on an almost daily basis which can relatively quickly take a toll on their health if they select the wrong menu items.

Did you ever see the movie, “Supersize Me”? It’s a documentary film directed by and starring Morgan Spurlock, an independent American filmmaker.

The film follows a 30-day period from February to March of 2003, during which Spurlock ate only fast food – in this case, McDonald’s. The result was that his health deteriorated significantly and he gained a lot of weight, in a single month.

That’s why it’s important to understand whether eating at a fast food restaurant like Taco Bell is healthy or not if you want to maintain optimal health over the long term.

 

Is Taco Bell Healthy?

To answer that question, we would first have to define healthy. One only needs to do a quick search on the internet to find lots of differing and confusing opinions from highly-credentialed folk about what constitutes a healthy diet.

Some doctors and other health experts swear by the Ketogenic Diet (Keto for short), others are on the other end of the spectrum and advocate for a vegan diet. There’s paleo, vegetarian, gluten-free, Mediterranean and even (shockingly) the carnivore diet, and on and on. What’s a mother to do?

Most agree, however, that processed food is bad. It’s bad not just because of the good parts that are removed, but because of all the bad things that are added – things like stabilizers, sugar, salt, preservatives, colorings, and various other chemicals.

They also agree that veggies are good – most of them anyway.

Taco Bell isn’t always the healthiest choice. For example, Taco Bell serves fried foods, which are high in calories and fat. Additionally, many of their menu items contain artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

For example, the Flour Tortilla contains such culinary delights as:  shortening (interesterified soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, hydrogenated cottonseed oil),  sodium acid pyrophosphate, sorbitan monostearate, mono- and diglycerides, fumaric acid, sorbic acid, sodium metabisulfite, cellulose, dicalcium phosphate, and, everyone’s favorite, calcium propionate.

Yum.

Another issue is the sodium/salt content. Sodium is used as a flavor enhancer that most restaurants add to their food and Taco Bell is no exception. Recently they’ve made strides in reducing it, but it’s still pretty high.

High sodium intake has been linked to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, kidney stones and stroke.

Yikes.

The key term there is “high”. We all need sodium to survive. It’s an essential mineral for human life. But we don’t need a ton of it. So the idea is to minimize your intake to avoid health problems.

Then there’s the fat. Some fat is good, some fat is bad. Eating a lot of fat is…complicated.

Most nutritionists these days will tell you that to have a healthy diet, you should minimize fat intake – especially saturated fat.

However, if you’re following the keto diet, you actually WANT to eat more fat – even saturated fat like palm, coconut, lard (ick!), butter, and cocoa butter are encouraged – to achieve ‘keto-vana’, aka ketosis.

Yes, you can lose weight that way, but is it healthy? We’ll let the experts decide.

So, for most people, if you want to eat healthy while dining at a fast food restaurant like Taco Bell, it’s best to stick with more whole-food options when possible. In other words, foods that are still mostly in their original form, i.e., few if any additives, not fried, etc.

And load up on the veggies. You can also avoid ordering anything with a crispy shell such as nachos or quesadillas as these foods are often deep-fried or covered with chips or cheese.

And cinnamon twists? Puh-leeze. Don’t even ask. If you want to eat cinnamon twists for a snack or dessert, that’s fine – we’re not judging. But just know that those are pure junk food. And that goes for the cinnabon delights too.

Taco Bell has a lot on their menu, including tacos, burritos, salads and more. When you visit the Taco Bell website, there are the ingredients listed for each of their food items. This ensures that people know exactly what they are eating and if it is healthy to eat.

Taco Bell Best Items for Vegetarians & Vegans

The Veggie Burrito

Taco Bell’s new veggie burritos are a great way to get your veggies in. They’re made with seasoned rice, black beans, guacamole and tortillas. Just add onions and tomatoes and you have a winning healthy meal.

Power Bowl

The Veggie Power Menu Bowl is the perfect place to mix and match most everything on the Taco Bell menu, sans meat of course.

The Black Bean Crunchwrap

The Black Bean Crunchwrap at Taco Bell is a crunchy tostada shell with black beans, then adds layers of nacho cheese sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, and reduced-fat sour cream.

If you want to make it vegan, hold the cheese please.

Taco Bell’s menu is highly customizable, so you can fit nearly any dietary need.

Bean Burrito

Fast, convenient, tasty and cheap. What more could you want? How about flexible, and good for those who choose not to eat meat. It’s a warm flour tortilla wrapped around your choice of Taco Bell ingredients including black beans or pintos, rice, diced tomatoes, onions, lettuce, jalapenos, three cheese blend, and guacamole.

Best Taco Bell Items for Keto

No Cheesy Gordita Crunch here. The Ketogenic Diet is defined by high fat, low carb and moderate protein. The point is to induce ketosis, a condition that forces the body to burn fat as fuel, rather than carbohydrates.

Because you’re burning fat, weight loss is inevitable if you’re carrying excess weight. But that precludes tortillas (corn and wheat), potatoes, beans, rice and any other high-carb delights.

You can still have the Cheesy Gordita Crunch, just not with the crunch part. D’oh!

Power Bowl

Not just for vegans, it’s perfect for keto followers too. Choose a meat, slather on the fat (guacamole, sour cream, cheddar cheese, nacho cheese sauce) and some low carb veggies (all of them, except potatoes). Done. Keto-rific.

No Joy

Sadly, that means none of these favorites:

  • Toasted Cheddar Chalupa
  • Black Bean Quesarito
  • Nachos Bellgrande
  • Crunchwrap Supreme
  • Mexican Pizza
  • Soft Taco
  • Nacho Fries
  • Chicken Quesadilla
  • Etc…

Is Taco Bell Healthy to Eat Often?

When eating at a fast food restaurant like Taco Bell or KFC, it is important to understand what you’re getting yourself into. The truth is that these restaurants offer a quick and convenient meal for those in a rush – hence the term “fast food”.

This convenience often comes at the cost of health – it can be hard not to eat fast food daily – especially because it’s cheap and convenient. However, if you only eat at this type of restaurant on occasion, there may be some benefits.

Fast food can provide many essential nutrients when consumed as part of a balanced diet, but this is not always the case. Eating at Taco Bell or other fast food restaurant on an almost daily basis can cause some people to end up with weight gain and other health-related issues over time.

Studies have shown that the higher the concentration of fast food restaurants in an area and the fewer grocery stores there are (so-called food deserts), the more likely the residents of that area will suffer from diet-related illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and obesity.

What else is in Taco Bell?

The ingredients in some of Taco Bell menu items are pretty simple. But some things have inexplicable additives. Take the seasoned beef, for example. The most important part of the ingredients is the meat itself, of course, which is made from, uh…cows.

However, here’s the ingredients list: Beef, water, seasoning [cellulose, chili pepper, maltodextrin, salt, oats, soy lecithin, spices, tomato powder, sugar, onion powder, citric acid, natural flavors (including smoke flavor), torula yeast, cocoa, disodium inosinate & guanylate, dextrose, lactic acid, modified corn starch], salt, sodium phosphates.

Okay, preservatives are a necessary evil. You don’t want your meat rotting. That would be unpleasant to say the least. But cocoa? I can’t imagine what that’s used for in ground beef.

And, unfortunately, since it’s not organic (and they don’t make the claim that it is), the meat probably isn’t free of harmful chemicals like antibiotics or growth hormones, which are fed to most farm animals by the truckload. This can be troubling for those of us who are looking for a healthy meal that won’t cause any issues in the long term.

While there are many things in these restaurants that aren’t ideal for your health, you don’t have to give up on fast food entirely. If you’re just looking for something quick and convenient, it may not be so bad to eat at a fast food restaurant every once in awhile if you know what to avoid.

Conclusion

Yes, Taco Bell can be healthy. But that doesn’t mean the rest of the fast food industry is just as healthy. And that doesn’t mean eat Taco Bell food every day.

FAQ’s

What are the advantages of eating fast food?

There are many advantages to eating at fast food restaurants (cheap, fast, filling), but they are generally not healthy choices. For one thing, the food is typically processed and prepared in a hurry, which can lead to nutrient loss. Fast food also tends to be less expensive than other options, which may make it more appealing to some customers.

On the other hand, some fast food options are likely healthier than others. For example, you can often order a healthy side salad or fruit cup at a fast food restaurant. In addition, meals often contain smaller portions than at home so you can consume fewer calories and calories overall.

Fast food is also convenient, which may make it a good option for people who are on the go or don’t have much time to prepare meals. However, fast food is usually high in calories and fat and low in nutrients so it’s not always the healthiest choice.

What are the disadvantages of eating fast food?

Fast food isn’t always bad for you – in fact, it can be a healthy and convenient meal option if you’re mindful about what you order.

While there are plenty of unhealthy options available at fast food restaurants, you can still enjoy nutritious fare if you know what to order and how to prepare it.

What are the nutritional values of fast food?

Fast food isn’t usually healthy but there are some options that are better for you than others. While most fast food restaurants offer items such as burgers and fries, there are healthier options that you can order.

Generally, fewer calories are better, so that means avoiding anything fried because oil (aside from the toxins created by heating oil to high temperatures) contains more calories than protein or carbs.

In addition to choosing foods that are healthier for you, make sure to also watch your portion size when you’re ordering from a fast food restaurant.

Not only is it important to make sure you’re eating the right amount of calories – and most calories are from fat, usually in the form of hidden oils – but you should also try to limit the amount of added sugars and sodium you’re consuming. Remember SOS – Sugar Oil Salt.

With food, anything is possible, including eating healthy at your favorite fast food chain. Leading the way as one of the healthiest fast food restaurants is Taco Bell!

get taco bell free samples