Fast-food restaurants are known for offering items that are high in calories, fat, and especially sodium and that’s a problem for folks with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. There are some ways to get around this at Taco Bell specifically, according to Melissa Rifkin, MS, RD, CDN. She says that certain Taco Bell menu items “can provide a number of calories that could work within a reasonable calorie budget” and she and other dietitians have chosen 9 that are among the healthiest items to order.
- Crunchy Taco – a classic taco with beef, cheese, and lettuce that reduces calories and saturated fat. Dietitian Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD says that fiber from the taco shell and beef as a good source of protein help to make the Crunchy Taco a reasonable choice. 170 calories, 10g fat (3.5g saturated fat), 300 mg sodium, 13g carbs (3 g fiber,
- 2. Chicken Chipotle Melt – a wrap with 12 grams of protein, registered dietitian Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN says the melt “is low enough in calories to be able to pair with other nutrient-dense ingredients, like fruits and vegetables to create a more well-rounded meal.” 190 calories, 9g fat (3g saturated fat), 530 mg sodium, 16 g carbs (1g fiber,
- 3. Power Menu Bowl – Trista Best says this bowl is made with nutrient-dense ingredients that include lettuce, tomatoes, rice, and black beans and is filling as well to keep you full and satisfied. Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD says that the guacamole in the bowl can provide heart-healthy fats and potassium, but it’s on the high side of sodium with 1,250 mg but if you lay off of the avocado ranch sauce you can cut that back a bit. 460 calories, 21 g fat (6g saturated fat), 1,250 mg sodium, 41g carbs (8g fiber, 3g sugar), 27g protein.
- 4. Veggie Power Menu Bowl – this is the vegetarian version of the Power Menu Bowl and Rifkin says “The Power Bowl is the most balanced meal that provides more produce than the others.” 420 calories, 20 g fat (6g saturated fat), 870 mg sodium, 47g carbs (10g fiber, 3g sugar, 13g protein.
- Black Bean Chalupa Supreme – according to Goodson this item containing lettuce, black beans, and tomatoes is a low-calorie option that gives you a lot of flavor but is a little high in saturated fat and sodium. Taco Bell offers a “Make It Fresco” option to lower calories and fat and she also recommends swapping out the Chalupa shell for a plain crunchy taco shell to cut back even more sodium and saturated fat. 340 calories, 18g fat (4g saturated fat), 460mg sodium, 36g carbs (6g fiber, 4g sugar), 10g protein.
- 6. Black Bean Crunchwrap Supreme – Best says this is a great alternative to the Black Bean Chalupa and “black beans belong to the legume family and are a source of plant-based protein” as well as rich in antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins including copper, iron, and B vitamins. The lettuce also gives some additional vitamins and minerals. 520 calories, 18g fat (5g saturated fat), 1,100mg sodium, 77g carbs (7g fiber, 6g sugar), 13g protein.
- 7. Cheesy Bean & Rice Burrito – Rifkin says that this item provides a good amount of fiber and Manaker adds “beans are a source of antioxidants, fiber, and protein and the cheese gives a boost of calcium and even more protein while the rice is a source of energizing carbohydrates. 420 calories, 16g fat (4g saturated fat), 920 mg sodium, 55g carbs (7g fiber, 3g sugar), 9g protein.
- 8. Soft Taco With Chicken – this is a classic Taco Bell item and Manaker lauds it for chicken as a source of low protein and is generally a healthy choice. 160 calories, 5g fat (2.5g saturated fat), 510mg sodium, 16g carbs (1g fiber, 1g sugar), 12g protein.
- Side of Black Bean & Rice – the fiber in black beans may help to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels according to Goodson and if you swap refried beans for black beans you may be able to reduce the amount of fat in your meal as well. She picks this as a great side dish. 190 calories, 4g fat (0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat), 390mg sodium, 35g carbs (6g fiber, 0g sugar), and 5g protein.
If you are looking to grab a meal at Taco Bell now you know that it can actually be healthy thanks to the input of these dietitians.