Taco Bell, the home of a Doritos-wrapped taco, could actually help you keep your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier when you dine out this year.
The fast-food chain has made a series of changes over the years, from eliminating artificial flavors and trans fat to the low-calorie ‘Fresco” menu and reducing sodium across the menu by 15% since 2008. The chain now plans to eliminate XL sodas, cut an additional 10% of sodium across the menu, and remove some antibiotics from its chicken by early 2017.
With vegetarian and high protein menu options in addition to the late-night fan favorites, the taco haven has slowly pushed itself to become the healthier option among the fast food giants.
Angie Murad, a registered dietician nutritionist, said one of the biggest road blocks to eating healthfully at fast food and traditional restaurants is the sky-high levels of sodium.
“They are trying to decrease the amount of sodium which is great because usually when you do eat out, the menu options are higher in sodium,” she said.
Murad said typically meals at fast food restaurants and sit-down establishments have an emphasis on carbs and fats, instead of using fruits and vegetables as the basis of the meals.
Restaurants typically up fat and sodium, says Murad. “Our taste is kind of centered on that — it enhances the flavor,” she said.
But while FoodBeast and others have praised Taco Bell for its subtle transition to more healthful options in the past, the driving motive behind the changes isn’t so positive, according to Yoni Freedhoff, assistant professor family medicine University of Ottawa and author of Weighty Matters.
“The industry’s job is to sell food, so this move is not about protecting American health of Americans... they are hoping this will improve sales,” he said. “There is no reason to make changes for industry, industry doesn’t have the luxury of following a moral compass. It’s about making profits.”
Whatever Taco Bell’s motives, Murad said for people who are eating out, planning is essential to ensuring they maintain healthy options.
“Since there is the nutrition information online you can use some tricks to find healthier options if you are in a bind and have to eat our or go to fast food,” she said.
Yo Quiero Taco Bell?
USA TODAY NETWORK reached out to Taco Bell for comment.
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