Are Tacos Healthy? Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

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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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Tacos are undeniably one of the most delicious Mexican foods to exist. They are a filling and tasty dish that, throughout the years, has become an all-time favorite of many. A single bite of a taco is enough for you to experience the taste of several different flavors that work together as one.

The colorful fillings sandwiched between the taco shell make the dish look deceivingly healthy. Yet, no healthy dishes are found in fast-food chains, while many still claim that tacos can even be eaten during diets. 

This leads some people to wonder, are tacos healthy? The answer to this question varies upon several factors. Want to know what they are? Scroll down below!

You may also like: Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos

How are Tacos Prepared?

best tacos recipe

There are many ways to make a taco. Restaurants and food trucks have gotten creative and have added their twist and touch to this simple yet flavorsome dish. No matter the change, three components in a taco always remain the same. And this consists of the shell, the fillings, and the garnish.

The Shell:

A taco is always prepared by first making its shell. Corn tortillas are fried for a crispy exterior or toasted to make a soft-shelled taco. This entire dish depends heavily on the quality of the shell. A tortilla too hard or too soft will not make the taco taste good, no matter how flavorsome the fillings are.

The Fillings:

The assortment of fillings in a taco varies from one to another, depending on each individual’s taste. They can include anything ranging from ground beef to grilled veggies. Nowadays, all-veggie and meat tacos are also available as vegetarian or vegan alternatives.

The Garnish:

A taco can either be light or rich, depending on the garnish. Sour cream and shredded cheese are the usual toppings. If you drench yours with queso, your taco will be considered unhealthy no matter how healthy the toppings are. 

Healthier garnishes include the choice of Greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream and such.

Why do people love Tacos?

are tacos healthy for weight loss

Tacos make for a delicious meal. They can either be prepared in a filling manner for a meal or put together as a light snack.

Moreover, they are a quick meal that you can grab while also being hassle-free to make at home. They are packed with intense flavors that vary from one taco to another, as the filling and toppings can be versatile. 

Tacos are one of the many foods that can be customized according to your personalized taste. This is why tacos have gained popularity from the many Mexican dishes.

Are Tacos Healthy – Factors Affecting its Nutritional Value

are tacos healthy

A dish is deemed unhealthy when low in nutrients but high in calories. The nutritional value of a taco is dependent on the preparation of its assembling components. Based on these, a taco can be either healthy or unhealthy.

Preparation of the Shell:

The tortilla of a taco shell is usually made from corn flour. Corn flour is healthier than regular wheat flour as it is lower in calories. But frying the shell makes corn flour lose its nutritious value, making the taco comparatively unhealthier. Therefore, toasting or baking the shell is a better option.

Your Choice of Protein:

Chicken is a leaner source of protein than beef. Thus, chicken tacos are considered healthier than beef tacos, which can be a bit greasy. The meat in the taco can also be substituted with beans packed with protein, fish or shrimp, and nutrient-rich veggies. Another source of plant proteins, such as tofu, also adds to the nutritional value.

The Toppings:

Last but not least, the toppings/garnish can make or break a seemingly healthy taco. A soft-shelled fish taco can be made unhealthier by simply adding a few dollops of sour cream and sweetened salsa. 

Thus, try to use fresh ingredients that help elevate the tastiness of the taco. Avocados, an eminent source of good fat, make a great taco topping. Other healthy toppings include Pico de Gallo, diced pineapple, etc.

Can Tacos be Eaten During a Diet?

Yes, they certainly can! You have to choose healthier alternatives while assembling the taco, modifying it to contain a high nutritional value with minimal calories. 

Note down your favorite toppings and look for similar substitutes. As shocking as it may seem, you can lose weight by formulating the right kind of taco. 

Are you interested in losing weight while eating your favorite Mexican dish? Read further to find out how.

How to Make a Healthy Taco?

how to make tacos at home

Many tacos can be very unhealthy and cause several health complications if eaten too often. To make a healthy taco, reduce using ingredients rich in calories and avoid using anything fried. 

If you want a crispy shell, try baking it in the oven instead of deep-frying it. Craving fried toppings? Make use of an air-fryer. 

Cooked ingredients tend to lose their nutritional value. Therefore, try using healthy toppings such as diced raw onions instead of caramelized ones. 

Reduce the number of toppings being used to lower the overall taco in calories. Minute inclusions of healthy ingredients, such as a lime dash, can also pleasantly add to the taste.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is taco a junk food?

Dietitians say that it’s junk food but can be made healthy as well. But to make it healthy, you’ll need to prepare it the right way. 

Which country eats the most tacos?

Mexico is the biggest consumer of tacos, whole Norway comes in second.

Which tacos are the healthiest?

I believe non-fried corn tortilla is the healthiest option as it has fewer calories and makes you feel full as well.

Final Words

Many might consider tacos to be junk food, but as stated previously, it depends on how you prepare it. Switch to healthier alternatives of the fillings you like.

Look for taco recipes that use fresh and healthy produce. Season on your own instead of using packaged seasoning mixes, which can contain empty calories. Thus, if you ever wonder are tacos healthy, the answer is simple; it can be if you want it to!

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