The Taco Bell Fiesta Taco Salad is one of the most popular items on the menu as it's the perfect combination of a crunchy shell with meat and veggies. Get the scoop on the calorie count and nutrition info, as well as tips for making it healthier by substituting ingredients.
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When possible, order "fresco style" from the Taco Bell menu to cut calories and fat. This will replace dairy items, mayo-based sauces and guacamole with pico de gallo.
Calories in Fiesta Taco Salad
This popular salad from Taco Bell consists of a fried taco shell filled with lettuce, tomatoes, ground beef, refried beans, seasoned rice, crunchy red tortilla chips, shredded cheese and reduced-fat sour cream. According to the Taco Bell Nutrition guide, the Fiesta Taco Salad provides 740 calories, with 38 grams of fat and 1,100 milligrams of sodium.
As you can see, this Taco Bell salad is high in calories and fat. On the positive side, it does pack a powerful protein punch — there are 25 grams of protein in one serving. According to Harvard Health, women need 46 grams of protein per day, while men should aim for 56 grams a day. This salad is also a good source of vitamin A, calcium and iron.
The Taco Bell Nutrition guide allows you to customize your order, so you can see how adding or removing certain items, such as meat or cheese, can make a difference in the calorie count. For example, you can swap the chicken for beef to save some calories. If you're watching your sodium intake, you can remove the refried beans. This also saves some calories.
Taco Bell Salad Healthy Options
One easy thing you can do right away to save 320 calories is to skip the fried taco shell. Without the shell, the calorie count on the Fiesta Taco Salad becomes 420 calories. Much better!
You can also save 70 calories by "making it fresco." Simply replace the dairy and mayo-based sauces with pico de gallo. Another option is to "make it meatless," which removes the ground beef and adds in more refried beans, thus saving 90 calories.
In fact, "making it meatless" doesn't only help with the calorie count, but it may also improve your health. A May 2015 study published in the_ Journal of the American Medical Association_ reports that vegetarian diets may lower the risk of developing colorectal cancers. Pescovegetarian diets, which also include fish and seafood, appear to have similar effects. This disease is the second leading cause of cancer mortality in the United States.
Additionally, a small study featured in Food & Nutrition Research in October 2016 showed that beans are more satiating than meat, which may help prevent overeating. However, meat is a good protein source. If you're just looking at the calorie count, swapping the ground beef for chicken will save you 45 calories and swapping the ground beef for steak will save you 35 calories.
Read More: 23 Healthy Salads Nutrition Experts Eat
Taco Bell Nutrition Tips
As you can see, there are several easy substitutions you can make for a healthier Taco Bell Fiesta Salad. The Taco Bell menu has lots of meals and snacks that are low in calories, so salad isn't your only option.
The Chicken Soft Taco Fresco Style, for example, packs a hefty nutritional punch and has only 160 calories, with 9 grams of protein. The Spicy Tostada has 190 calories and 6 grams of protein, so it will fill you up and keep you satisfied throughout the day.
Taco Bell's bean burrito boasts 350 calories, but you can "make it fresco" by removing the dairy, thus saving 20 calories. Their 7-Layer Burrito will fill you up with 13 grams of protein, and it's only 320 calories if you "make it fresco." Taco Bell also has a vegetarian menu for those who prefer to limit or avoid meat. Overall, even though Taco Bell is considered fast food, there are many healthy options to choose from.
- Taco Bell: "Fiesta Taco Salad"
- Harvard Health: "Protein check: How much do you really need?"
- Food and Nutrition Research: "Meals based on vegetable protein sources (beans and peas) are more satiating than meals based on animal protein sources (veal and pork) – a randomized cross-over meal test study"
- Taco Bell: "Nutrition Calculator"
- Taco Bell: " Chicken Soft Taco"
- Taco Bell: "Spicy Tostada"
- Taco Bell: "Bean Burrito"
- Taco Bell: "7 Layer Burrito"
- Journal of the American Medical Association: "Vegetarian Dietary Patterns and the Risk of Colorectal Cancers"