There is often a debate when it comes down to whether Mexican food is healthy, or unhealthy. Many will say that what we eat in restaurants does not accurately represent what people in Mexico eat, while others will point to the high incidence of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease among Hispanics. Since the Mexican food that most of us consume comes from Mexican restaurants, we need to take a look at some of the foods found there that are unhealthy.
1. Enchiladas- Enchiladas are corn tortillas that are stuffed with beef, cheese, chicken, or a combination, then covered in enchilada sauce, and topped with more cheese. Usually, the tortillas are fried briefly to soften them, and this may be done in lard, or more healthfully, in oil. Cooking with lard is traditional when preparing Mexican food. Meat, cheese, lard or oil, and more cheese makes enchiladas high in calories and saturated fat. The sauce is high in sodium, which makes this delicious dish not terribly healthy.
2. Chimichanga– Usually, a chimichanga is fairly large. A flour tortilla is stuffed with beef, chicken, or pork, as well as cheese. The tortilla is wrapped burrito-style, then deep fried. It may be topped with sour cream, or guacamole, or both. Guacamole is made from avocados, which contain healthy fats, but that is the only healthy fat that you will find in this mix. High in calories and saturated fat, a chimichanga is a heart health disaster.
3. Burritos– Most restaurants serve burritos that are over sized, and packed to the bulging point with meat, cheese, beans, and maybe some sour cream and guacamole, to boot. An over sized burrito can have close to 1500 calories, depending on what it is filled with, and close to half of those calories may be coming purely from fat. Don’t let that sprinkling of lettuce and tomato fool you. A giant burrito is not your amigo.
4. Taco– A traditional taco is made from a corn tortilla that is fried in lard, then filled with beef, chicken, cheese, with some lettuce, tomato, and salsa to top it off. Don’t forget the sour cream! Tacos rarely arrive one at a time, they are usually eaten by the two’s, or more. Again, that is a lot of fat and calories!
5. Refried Beans– Beans are good for you, and healthy to eat. Refried beans are often made using lard which turns something healthy into something unhealthy. At the same time, refried beans are generally quite salty, which is another strike. High fat and sodium do not a healthy heart make. There are vegetarian refried beans to be found in supermarkets. Choose those instead.
So, what can you eat of Mexican food that is healthy? Fajitas are meat and vegetables served in warmed tortillas. While you can embellish them quite a lot, go easy on the extras. Look for soups and dishes that are heavier on the vegetables, and lighter on the cheese, meat, and sour cream or opt for vegetarian versions of favorites. Take that over sized burrito, cut it in half, and save one half for another day. And remember, you can always ask to have certain things, like sour cream, omitted, or served on the side.
Most Unhealthy Mexican Fast Food