9 Healthiest Taco Bell Menu Products, According to Dietitians

We all know how rough it can be to discover a nutritious meal whilst out and on the transfer. This can be all the a lot more complicated when you come across on your own surrounded by convenient quick-food temptations, but are striving to shed excess weight or look at your diet program with respect to chronic overall health situations like superior cholesterol, diabetes, or hypertension. When it comes to sodium, in particular, getting stranded in a speedy-meals swamp can leave you feeling particularly hopeless—not to mention, hungry.

“Quite a few Us residents are hoping to check out their blood pressure and therefore searching to decrease their sodium ingestion. The American Coronary heart Affiliation endorses no more than 2,300 mg of sodium for most grown ups, and ideally hoping to cut down consumption to no additional than 1,500 mg for people with superior blood stress,” Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, the writer of the Sports Nutrition Playbook and member of our Medical Pro Board, tells Consume This, Not That! “Typically quick food items dining places cook dinner with lots of sodium that you may perhaps not be in a position to clear away. Nevertheless, [at Taco Bell] you can incorporate fresh vegetables to supply further flavor and nutrition.”

“The terrific issue about Taco Bell’s web-site is it characteristics a nutrition calculator that you can use to tweak your favored menu goods to see how it impacts the nutritional information of the meal,” she carries on. According to Goodson, if you have been to order a plain crunchy taco or energy bowl with rooster or black beans, you can “load up the veggies on prime with tomatoes, onions, and lettuce. “If you want to best it with a tiny cheese, opt for an ‘easy’ portion to reduce the serving size and minimize down on more saturated unwanted fat and sodium.”

So in the grand scheme of fast-meals eating places, the versatility and flexibility of Taco Bell’s menu lends by itself to delivering consumers with extra wholesome selections than quite a few other competing quick-food chains. To support you make perfectly-knowledgeable and perfectly-well balanced buying choices the future time you spherical the Taco Bell generate through, we spoke to a handful of dietitians about the healthiest Taco Bell things on the menu. The Taco Bell menu offerings included in this roundup “supply a equilibrium of carb fat and protein, contributing to a balanced meal,” claims Melissa Rifkin, MS, RD, CDN, owner of Melissa Rifkin Nourishment.”They every single deliver an total of energy that could get the job done inside of a fair calorie finances. All are needed vitamins in our diet plan and consuming these goods in efforts to fulfill these vitamins and minerals wants can lead to wellbeing.”

Maintain reading to uncover out which balanced Taco Bell orders are dietitian-approved—and for much more suggestions on how to make sensible, overall health-motivated decisions although grabbing breakfast at the Bell,  test out Taco Bell’s Total Breakfast Menu—Ranked From The very least to Most Healthful.

taco bell crunchy taco best
Courtesy of Taco Bell

170 calories, 10 g fat (3.5 g saturated fats), 300 mg sodium, 13 g carbs (3 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 8 g protein

“This classic taco keeps it simple with only cheese, beef, and lettuce as toppings, which reduces the calories and saturated fat,” says Goodson.”Each taco has 3 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein, which are important components to stabilize blood sugar and help keep you full for a longer period of time after eating. And at only 170 calories, you have an option that will satisfy your cravings without packing on excess calories.”

Taco Bell’s Crunchy Taco can be a nutritionally advantageous option for a few reasons,” explains Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, a registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements. “One, it contains about 8 grams of protein, which makes it a good source of protein. Two, the fiber from the crunchy corn taco shell is around 2 grams and is useful for preventing blood sugar spikes and digestive health. The minerals provided by this item are not to go unnoticed either,” adds Best, “calcium and iron.”

RELATED: The Best Foods to Eat to Avoid Blood Sugar Spikes, Say Dietitians

“The protein and fiber can help keep you full for longer, which may prevent overeating on other more calorie dense menu items. The fiber is also helpful for keeping blood sugar levels consistent, which can prevent insulin resistance and is also good for feeding good gut bacteria,” says Best. “This taco can have more nutrients added by making a few changes. Add tomatoes to increase the taco’s folate, potassium, and vitamin C. Replacing the meat with the black beans can keep the item high in protein but lower in saturated fat.”

“This taco contains beef, which is a high-quality protein, meaning that it provides all nine essential amino acids that our bodies need,” Goodson adds. “Beef also contains essential nutrients such as iron, zinc, vitamin B12, selenium, niacin, and vitamin B6. The cheddar cheese on top provides you with additional protein and calcium, which is important for bone health.”

Taco bell chipotle chicken griller
Courtesy of Taco Bell

190 calories, 9 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 530 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (1 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 12 g protein

“This wrap is a source of 12 grams of protein, making it a satisfying option for many people,” says Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, registered dietitian, author of the First Time Mom’s Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility, and member of our Medical Expert Board.

“[The Chicken Chipotle Melt is] low enough in calories to be able to pair with other nutrient dense ingredients, like fruits and vegetables to create more well-rounded meal,” Rifkin also notes.

“Perhaps skip the creamy sauce to make it even more good for you, as this oil-based sauce provides additional fat and calories,” Manaker adds.

taco bell power menu bowl chicken best
Courtesy of Taco Bell

460 calories, 21 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 1,250 mg sodium, 41 g carbs (8 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 27 g protein

“I would choose the power bowl with chicken as the best meal option on the menu,” says Rifkin. “For similar calories to the veggie bowl, you get way more protein. This makes the meal more balanced.”

“Taco Bell’s Power Menu Bowl is an excellent fast food meal item at just 460 calories per bowl,” explains Best. “It is made with nutrient dense ingredients including tomatoes, lettuce, rice, black beans, and grilled breast. This item contains only 6 grams of saturated fat and 27 grams of protein. It also provides 8 grams of dietary fiber, when combined with the protein this meal will keep you full and satisfied for longer without a glucose spike or crash.”

“The protein and fiber combination work in harmony to help keep you full and provide you with energy to power through your day,” says Goodson. “Additionally, it contains lettuce, fresh tomatoes, and guacamole to provide you with extra nutrients and those better-for-you fatty acids.”

“It does contain some nutrients that can be beneficial for the body when consumed in moderation as part of a balanced and varied diet,” adds Best. “The [meat] in the bowl provides a source of protein and iron, which are essential nutrients for building and maintaining healthy muscles and red blood cells. The black beans are also a good source of plant-based protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals such as folate, magnesium, and potassium.”

The guacamole made from mashed avocado, can provide heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and potassium, while the pico de gallo can contribute some vitamin C and antioxidants.”

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“The avocados found in the guacamole are an excellent source of monounsaturated fats and fiber, which are important for heart health,” says Goodson. “There is research to show that eating at least one avocado per week can lower the risk of developing heart disease, and swapping avocado or guacamole for other saturated fat-containing foods such as butter, mayonnaise, or creamy dressings can be a healthy alternative.”

“As with many of Taco Bell’s menu items, removing the sour cream can cut down on the calories and saturated fat of this item,” says Best. Generally speaking, when it comes to toppings, sauces, and spreads at Taco Bell, Goodson also suggests that you “stay away from sauces and try to stick with avocado or guacamole as a ‘better-for-you’ spread or topping.”

Though this healthy Taco Bell order does extend a wholesome nutritional balance, no dish is perfect—especially those on fast food menus. If you’re trying to keep an eye on your blood pressure, this may not be the meal for you. “This bowl is on the higher side for sodium, clocking in at 1,250mg,” Goodson advises. “If you’re looking to reduce sodium intake, try only opting for either the cheese or the guacamole to reduce overall sodium content, or forgo the avocado ranch sauce on top.”

taco bell veggie cantina bowl
Courtesy of Taco Bell

420 calories, 20 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 870 mg sodium, 47 g carbs (10 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 13 g protein

The primary difference between the aforementioned Power Menu Bowl and the Veggie Power Menu Bowl is that the latter is vegetarian friendly. But losing the chicken as a protein topper does not detract from this bowl’s nutritional balance.

“The Power Bowl is the most balanced meal that provides more produce than the others,” says Rifkin.

“Veggie-based dishes help people meet their veggie needs in a snap,” explains Manaker. “This plant-based meal contains 13 grams of protein and 10 grams of protein.”

black bean chalupa taco bell
Courtesy of Taco Bell

340 calories, 18 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 460 mg sodium,  36 g carbs (6 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 10 g protein

Goodson explains that this healthy Taco Bell treat is a “vegetarian-friendly menu option that is packed with 10 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, and antioxidants from the black beans. It also contains cheese to provide additional protein and calcium. Coming in at only 340 calories, this can be a satiating option that provides a lot of flavor without overspending the calorie bank.”

“[The Black Bean Chalupa Supreme] is just 340 calories, which is an excellent calorie content for a meal,” says Best. “The lettuce, black beans, and tomatoes on this item bring up the nutrient quality greatly. The fact that it provides a plant source of protein, rather than a saturated fat containing animal protein, can benefit those who are looking to be more heart-healthy or plant-forward.”

Though this Chalupa does offer a few nutritional benefits, Goodson encourages you to keep in mind that it “still packs on about 4 grams of saturated fat and 460 milligrams of sodium, which is around 20% of the daily value for both.”

RELATED: 15 Foods That Can Cause High Blood Pressure, Ranked by Sodium Content

“The issue with many Taco Bell items is when they are consumed in multiples,” advises Best. “While one of these makes a great meal calorie-wise, when two or three are eaten at the same time this can bring their calorie content up to a quarter or half of a day’s calorie intake.”

“Taco Bell has the ‘Make It Fresco’ option that can cut down the calories and fat of a menu item through removing a couple of ingredients,” Best suggests, with regard to eliminating some nutritional deterrents from this otherwise relatively healthy Taco Bell order. “For this item, making it Fresco would remove 45 calories and cut down on the saturated fat.”

Goodson extends another helpful ingredient swap suggestion that still hits the same flavor notes while mitigating some of the saturated fat and sodium found in this Chalupa.”Try swapping the Chalupa shell for a plain crunchy taco shell to reduce the sodium and saturated fat content of this meal,” says Goodson.

taco bell black bean crunchwrap
Courtesy of Taco Bell

520 calories, 18 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 1,100 mg sodium, 77 g carbs ( 7 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 13 g protein

The Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme makes a great alternative to the Black Bean Chalupa,” says Best. She further explains that black beans “provide a source of plant-based protein and fiber, which can help you feel full and satisfied. [They] also contain some essential vitamins and minerals, such as iron, magnesium, and folate.”

“Black beans belong to the legume family and are a source of plant-based protein,” adds Goodson. “[They] are also chock full of fiber and antioxidants, as well as providing other essential nutrients such as iron, copper, and many B vitamins.”

Given black beans’ high-fiber content, Goodson also emphasizes the importance of overall fiber content in any food, explaining that “many Americans don’t meet the recommendations for fiber intake, which is at least 21–25 grams for women and 30–38 grams for men. Fiber is important for a myriad of health benefits, and research shows it can help reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and even some gastrointestinal conditions.”

The Black Bean Crunchwraps Supreme also contains a hefty portion of lettuce, which Best says “provides some vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K, vitamin A, and folate.”

RELATED: 44 Best High-Fiber Foods for a Healthy Diet

cheesy bean and rice burrito
Courtesy of Taco Bell

420 calories, 16 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 920 mg sodium, 55 g carbs (7 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 9 g protein

Although one might assume that the Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito wouldn’t make the cut as one of the healthiest Taco Bell menu items, the nutritional benefits this satiating burrito should not be underestimated. Rifkin notes that “the Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito also provides a good amount of fiber.”

Additionally, Manaker says that “eating plant-based meals is something that many of us are trying to do—and for good reason.”

“Eating more beans and other plant-based items is linked to a slew of positive health outcomes,” she elaborates. “Beans are a source of antioxidants, fiber, and protein. The cheese gives a boost of calcium and even more protein, and the rice is a source of energizing carbohydrates.”

Taco bell soft chicken taco
Courtesy of Taco Bell

160 calories, 5 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 510 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 12 g protein

This low calorie soft taco is a menu staple and classic healthy Taco Bell menu choice.

“Chicken is a source of lean protein,” says Manaker. “This dish provides 12 grams of protein.” She adds that “while the sodium content is over 500 mg per serving, it can be a satisfying dish to enjoy in a pinch.”

taco bell black beans rice best
Courtesy of Taco Bell

190 calories, 4 g fat (0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 390 mg sodium, 35 g carbs (6 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 5 g protein

For a healthy Taco Bell side item, your best bet is to go for a hearty helping of Taco Bell’s vegan-friendly Black Beans and Rice.

Research shows that the fiber and antioxidants that are present in black beans may help reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels,” says Goodson. “Antioxidants are important because they neutralize what’s known as free radicals (aka bad guys that cause damage to cells), which are shown to possibly lead to inflammation and the development of chronic disease.”

Along with being a great side dish pick, Rifkin also mentions that when there’s an option to substitute refried beans for black in other Taco Bell menu items, “swapping refried beans for black beans may reduce the amount of fat in the meal.”