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21-Day Vegan Kickstart

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The Five Most Unhealthful Foods at Mexican Restaurants: Healthful Options

A Report from The Cancer Project
Spring 2010

Findings | Key Factors | Rating System/Detailed Results | Healthful Options/References

More Healthful Options

Although many unhealthy fat- and cholesterol-laden foods are offered at these restaurants, consumers can find more healthful meals. Cancer Project dietitians applied the same rating system to find the healthiest options when dining out.

Sodium levels in the following options are still high, but they are much lower in calories and fat, and all items were very low in total points under the Cancer Project’s rating system. The average amount of calories saved by choosing the healthier option is about 1,000 calories per meal. Keep in mind, 3,500 calories equal one pound of added body weight. Eating just four meals from the healthy options, instead of the worst items, could potentially lead to one pound of weight loss.

Make sure to request that the following items are prepared without dairy products.

Bean and Rice Burrito from Chevys Fresh Mex

Score: 2 points

515 calories, 11 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of cholesterol, 1,650 milligrams of sodium

Choose from the a la carte menu to make a bean burrito with a large tortilla, black beans, rice, and pico de gallo salsa. This tasty burrito is full of fiber, and, even with the guacamole, low in fat. It does not exceed the recommended amount of calories for one meal and is a great alternative to Chevys’ Grilled Fajita Salad.

Grilled Veggie Bowl from Qdoba Mexican Grill

Score: 3 points

520 calories, 13 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of cholesterol, 1,920 milligrams of sodium

The Signature Flavor Grilled Veggie Bowl—filled with cilantro-lime rice, black beans, lettuce, pico de gallo salsa, salsa roja, verde salsa, and grilled vegetables—is low in fat and has no cholesterol. Although this dish is high in sodium, the potassium from the beans and vegetables helps eliminate sodium from the body. Consuming fruit and water also helps remove excess sodium.

Black Bean Tacos with House Salad from Chili’s

Score: 4 points

790 calories, 28 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of cholesterol, 1,925 milligrams of sodium

This is a great choice for your overall health when dining out. Low in fat and calories, high in fiber (18 grams), and containing no cholesterol, the flour tortillas, black beans, rice, and house salad provide nutrients to boost weight loss and lower risk of major diseases. 

Fat Sam Fajita from Moe’s Southwest Grill

Score: 4 points

620 calories, 23 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of cholesterol, 1,875 milligrams of sodium

One simple way to eat more healthfully is to add more color to your plate. This colorful dish includes tofu, lettuce, mixed veggies, and pico de gallo salsa wrapped in a flour tortilla.

References

Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Ogden CL, Curtin LR. Prevalence and trends in obesity among US adults, 1999-2008. JAMA. 2010;303:235-241.

CDC Features. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. Most Americans should consume less sodium (1,500 mg/day or less). Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/Features/Sodium/. Accessed April 30, 2010.

Differences in Prevalence of Obesity among Black, White, and Hispanic Adults – United States, 2006-2008. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2009;58(27):740-744.

ACS. Cancer Facts and Figures for Hispanics/Latinos 2006-2008. American Cancer Society, Atlanta, GA. 2006.

National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health Web site. National diabetes statistics, 2007. Available at: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/DM/PUBS/statistics/#allages. Accessed April 30, 2010.

Fraser GE. Associations between diet and cancer, ischemic heart disease, and all-cause mortality in non-Hispanic white California Seventh-day Adventists. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;70(suppl):532S-8S.

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