Want a foundation for a healthy cuisine? How about rice, beans and corn? Authentic Mexican food is very healthy relying heavily on different combinations of rice, beans and corn in addition to fresh vegetables. However, Americanized Mexican food, also called Tex-Mex, has few healthy options. Heaping portions smothered in fatty cheese and accompanied by high calorie and fat-laden sides make Americanized Mexican food a health nightmare. Here are five of the unhealthiest Mexican (Tex-Mex) foods.
Unhealthiest Mexican Foods:
Beef and Cheese Nachos
With as much fat as ten, yes ten, glazed doughnuts beef and cheese nachos are at the top of the do not eat list of Mexican foods. Not only do beef and cheese nachos contain copious amounts of cheese and ground beef, but they are also served with fatty sides like sour cream and guacamole. The fried tortilla chips also add a lot of calories, fat and salt.
Replacing greasy ground beef with healthier chicken make the chicken burrito a winner right? Not quite. While the switch in proteins improves the fat and calorie count, a chicken burrito has more sodium, a lot more, than a traditional beef burrito. In fact a single chicken burrito contains almost an entire day’s sodium.
An order of chile rellenos has as much saturated fat as 27 slices of bacon. No kidding. Chile rellenos is a roasted poblano pepper stuffed with melted cheese and picadillo. Picadillo is made from diced pork, nuts and raisins seasoned with caella. The stuffed pepper is then covered in egg batter and fried. Chile rellenos are usually served as an appetizer. A serving size can be huge, consisting of as many as ten to fifteen of the little golden fried gems.
Rice and Beans and Other Sides
What could be healthier than rice and beans? At a Mexican restaurant these healthy sides are often laden with extra salt and fat. Fat is often used to cook healthy pinto beans making them full of saturated fat. For flavor salt, lard, bacon or cheese is added to beans during cooking.
In other ethnic cuisines, the addition of rice to a meal can cut fat and sodium by as much as half. But not so at Mexican restaurants. A ¾ cup serving of Mexican rice can have upwards of 800 mg of sodium. If you ate only the sides usually served alongside your favorite Mexican dishes (rice and beans, sour cream, guacamole and fried tortilla chips with salty salsa) you’d use up nearly 2/3 of your fat and sodium for the day.
One staple of Tex-Mex cuisine is certainly the burrito. Already a calorie and fat stuffed choice, a chimichanga takes the burrito to a whole new level of unhealthy. Basically a chimichanga is a deep fried burrito accompanied by salsa, guacamole, sour cream and cheese. Skip this gut busting choice and opt instead for an al fresco burrito or taco served with more fresh veggies.
Center for Science in the Public Interest