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If you have a craving for Mexican fare, Taco Bell may be a better bet for your health and waistline than you think — as long as you know how to navigate the fast food chain’s menu.
“Taco Bell has become a front-runner in healthy fast-food restaurants,” Jen Hernandez, a Kentucky-based registered dietitian nutritionist, who is the founder and CEO of Plant-Powered Kidneys Inc., told Fox News Digital.
“They focus on including more fresh plants, plant proteins and low-sodium options,” she said. “In many ways, they help consumers eat healthier without even realizing it.”
That said, not everything on the menu is exactly a dietitian’s dream.
For Ella Davar (NutritionistElla.com), a longevity dietitian and gut health nutritionist based in Miami and New York City, Taco Bell is not a top pick for healthy eating, although “it does not mean that we can not find healthy options there,” she said.
Read on for tips from Davar and Hernandez on how to order better-for-you meals at Taco Bell.
Fox News Digital reached out to Taco Bell for comment.
Black Bean Soft Taco
Hernandez recommends that soft taco aficionados choose the Black Bean Soft Taco with cheese, tomatoes, onions and lettuce.
“It has just 390 milligrams of sodium but still packs five grams of fiber,” she said, commenting that this amount is 20% of your daily fiber needs, from just one taco.
Black Bean Chalupa
The Black Bean Chalupa is Davar’s personal favorite, as it’s “high in plant-based protein, fiber, antioxidants and polyphenols from vegetables.”
She called this dish a great alternative to other menu items and recommends it as a substitution for a classic taco, so everyone can “benefit from the bean’s gut-friendly fiber content.”
Black Bean Crunchwrap
You may be seeing a theme with fiber- and protein-rich black beans.
Davar said she likes that this crispy, crunchy wrap is “high in fiber from beans” and comes with a generous portion of lettuce and tomatoes.
You can also add some jalapeño peppers for additional veggies.
Overall, Davar said she thinks this wrap is an “excellent” lunch option.
Breakfast California Crunchwrap
Davar said this breakfast order, which consists of fluffy eggs, bacon, tomatoes, guacamole, cheddar cheese and a hash brown wrapped inside a warm flour tortilla, is “high in complete protein,” making it a filling way to start tje day.
Plus, “as a dietitian, I love the generous addition of tomatoes and avocados for an extra nutrition boost,” said Davar.
Veggie Power Bowl
Hernandez said that for this order, you should feel free to make some changes to boost its nutrition specs.
(Taco Bell makes it easy to customize orders at the store and online or through its app.)
“Go easy on the rice and cheese, but add extra beans, guacamole and lettuce,” she said.
“Add the Creamy Jalapeño Sauce for the flavor and lower sodium option if you like. All of this will get you 12 grams of protein and 16 grams of fiber, which will help fill you up,” Hernandez added.
Another Taco Bell menu offering that you can modify to enhance its health profile is the Nachos BellGrande, per Hernandez.
“Take the Nachos BellGrande and make it a filling plate. Swap the meat for black beans, which still provide some protein but also give you the added benefit of fiber,” she said, noting that you shouldn’t eat too much (if any) of the nacho cheese sauce, but you should add the guacamole for healthy fats and more fiber.
One more thing: “Be sure to pile on the veggies — lettuce, tomatoes, and onions all belong on nachos,” Hernandez said.
She pointed out that ordering the menu selection that way gives you 12 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber for under 650 calories.