Are Quesadillas Healthy?

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Lauren Zembron
Lauren Zembronhttps://www.healthyfoodforliving.com/
I am a 34 year old living outside of Boston with my wonderful husband, energetic daughter, sweet son, and playful dog. I have degrees in both psychology and guidance counseling, and have worked in a variety of school settings. I strive to find a balance between the two basic food philosophies of “eat to live” and “live to eat“. I believe that food should be (and is!) one of the great pleasures of leading a healthy lifestyle.
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“The quesa, quesadilla, the tastiest snack north of Havana!”, the great Latin American delicacy almost all of us crave. Since the simplicity in the making of quesadillas leaves a light aftertaste, we appreciate it as a good appetizer. 

It is rare to doubt the healthiness of a snack that causes no physical discomfort. Which is the exact reason why I found myself wondering; are quesadillas healthy? Is there any chance that quesadillas have the obscure traits of junk food?

Well, let’s find out!

Are Quesadillas Healthy? A Quick Check

Are Quesadillas Healthy

Quesadillas are a frenzy of several ingredients. We have to discuss all of these separately to thoroughly understand their potential benefits or detriments. Let us dissect a quesadilla for that purpose:

Tortilla:

The basic ingredient is the tortilla, a Mexican traditional staple often compared to bread. Tortillas are primarily healthy, some of them more than others. The ones made from corn are healthier than those made from flour since corn contains more vitamins and minerals.

Whole-grain tortillas are a better choice, providing you with a relatively more amount of plant-based compounds and nutrients. Tortillas are superior to your average white bread (health-wise, if not calorie-wise). So, I think it’s ten points to quesadilla for the first ingredient.

Cheese:

The more, the merrier — the same goes for cheese in a quesadilla. But cheese is loaded with calories! We are so conscious when we are taking cheese with a hamburger. But when cheese is taken absent-mindedly, as we do in the case of quesadillas, we tend to overindulge.

But if we put calories aside for a moment and consider the health factors, it turns out that cheese is great for you. It is an excellent source of calcium, protein, and vitamin B12. 

Some types of cheese, such as mozzarella, blue cheese, tofu, etc., might even aid weight loss and prevent osteoporosis. Meanwhile, some of the types are alarmingly high in sodium and fat. 

So, it comes down to choosing the exact right type of cheese that will determine the healthiness of your quesadillas.

Vegetables:

This one is self-explanatory. Hail to all the veggies out there! I think there are no bad vegetables unless you have enmity (or allergy) with a particular one on a medical level.

For example, cabbages taken excessively can interfere with the treatment of someone on therapy for thyroid issues. Or pumpkins can be detrimental for someone with diabetes (but who puts pumpkin in quesadillas?).

So, you get my point, vegetables are your best friend. They don’t ruin the healthiness of quesadillas; rather, they increase the nutritional importance!

Oil:

Sometimes quesadillas are sauteed over oil, or they are baked in the oven without any oil. If the former is applicable, then it all comes down to the kind of oil being used. Olive oil is one of the healthiest types of oils (although it might be a little expensive).

Other healthy oils are canola oil, grape seed oil, rice bran oil, peanut oil, etc. If you are making your quesadillas daily, I suggest you rethink your choice of oil.

But when quesadillas are baked, they contain little to no oil — which is the best-case scenario; calorie-wise as well as health-wise.

Meat:

Who doesn’t love meat? (Spoiler alert: vegans don’t) Quesadillas made of chicken are healthy. Needless to say, meat is the greatest source of protein and is rich in iron, calcium, vitamins, minerals, and folic acid. 

Meat replenishes your body and strengthens your immunity. Although a gram of meat will produce the same amount of energy as a gram of bread, the former will keep you satiated for a longer time, reducing your calorie intake.

However, quesadillas made of beef, mutton, or pork are incredibly high in calories. They are also classified as red meat, which means they will be slowly clogging your arteries. To whoever said that food won’t fill the void in your heart, share this piece of information with them.

If you can’t give up on red meat, try using low-fat lean meat.

Sour Cream:

I can swear that you don’t eat ketchup on your quesadillas. You most likely take sour cream or yogurt as an aside. In that case, you have to think about whether or not those are ultra-processed.

If they are, I suggest making your sour cream or yogurt. Try to keep them sugarless as well. A good alternative is Greek yogurt, which you can easily make at home or request in a restaurant while eating out.

Seasoning:

Not to be that person, but we have to talk about the seasonings as well. Some of the spices or seasonings that are used to marinate quesadilla can contain too much salt. This will cause the sodium content of your body to skyrocket (I am talking to you, hypertensive people).

Some seasonings to look out for are — monosodium glutamate, soy sauce, oyster sauce, etc. Anything that adds the extra salty crisp to your food likely has excessive sodium.

If you are eating at a restaurant, then I am sorry to inform you that they will be using too much of these potentially harmful seasonings because they make the food taste incredibly good, duh.

But if you are making quesadillas on your own, now you know what not to do.

A General Quesadilla Inspection

are chipotle quesadillas healthy

Now that we are done taking apart everything that goes in a quesadilla let’s take a generalized approach to judge this scrumptious beauty. One serving of quesadilla contains about 360 calories. Whether this is too much or just fine depends on your calorie requirement.

But the ratio of protein, fat, and carbohydrate that is considered ideal is found in a quesadilla. So even if the calorie seems a bit high, the proportion of all the macros is great, and you wouldn’t need to apprehend any malnutrition.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I eat quesadillas for weight loss?

A calorie is a calorie, doesn’t matter where you get it from. If you are staying within your calorie budget while having quesadilla as a staple, I don’t see why not.

Are quesadillas bad for people with co-morbidities e.g cardiac problems, hypertension?

As long as it doesn’t contain too much fat or salt, there is absolutely nothing to worry about.

Is there a vegan alternative to quesadilla?

Definitely, replace the meat with compact vegetables such as potatoes, pumpkins, yam etc.

Are quesadillas a good idea for meal prep?

No, quesadillas require to be eaten fresh. Meal prepping quesadillas in advance can make your tortilla soggy and gross, while the veggies and chicken lose their texture.

Conclusion

Quesadillas are healthy, especially if you are making them at home. Even if you are eating at a restaurant, a quesadilla is a better deal than a pizza or a hamburger. Incorporating the options mentioned above, you can make your quesadillas healthy to the point of being able to eat them every day without any health concerns! After a successful quest in finding the answer to the question, are quesadillas healthy, I hope to have made your day by confirming that yes, quesadillas are indeed healthy.

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