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Articles Fitness Nutrition

The Nutrition of Enchiladas

Aug 17, 2010

Enchiladas are a popular food that can be found on the menu at nearly any Mexican restaurant. You'll want to consider the nutritional contents of enchiladas carefully before including them in your diet.

Carbohydrates

An enchilada typically contains chicken, beef or pork that has been rolled in a soft tortilla shell. Individuals who are on a diet are often encouraged to replace the bread in their usual meals with a similar type of tortilla shell. What you need to know is that tortilla shells are made almost entirely from simple carbohydrates. While carbohydrates are not necessarily high in calories (they contain four calories per gram compared to the nine found in fat), they are still dangerous because of the rate at which they are digested. Simple carbohydrates, such as the ones found in tortilla shells, digest at a very fast rate. This means that within an hour or two after eating them, they will have already left your stomach and entered your digestive tract. This will result in you feeling hungry again, even though you've just eaten. When preparing enchiladas at home, look for tortillas that are made from whole grains.

Fat

In general, enchiladas are extremely high in fat. Tortilla shells are usually made with lard, which is a type of saturated fat that has been found to be linked to the development of cardiovascular disease, stroke and even death. Enchiladas are often topped with a layer of cheese and sour cream, which like the lard is high in saturated fat. There may be a dollop of guacamole on your plate. This is the only healthy type of fat in the entire meal. Avocados have been found to be high in unsaturated fat, which actually reverses some of the damage caused by saturated fats.

Protein

In regards to protein in your enchilada, it is really a tossup on whether or not the protein is healthy for your diet. There is no question that protein is essential for good health. It's needed to maintain and promote new muscle growth. But depending on the type of meat you choose, you may be increasing your fat content even more. Avoid red meats, and choose chicken, pork or even fish in your enchilada. You'll be getting all of the great benefits of protein without the added fat in your diet.

Salt

Enchiladas are loaded with salt. Salt is very dangerous because it not only can lead to bloating, but also can actually damage the arteries of your heart, leading to cardiovascular disease. When making enchiladas at home, use cheese and sour cream that is sodium free. While there will still be plenty of salt in your enchilada, this will help to at least cut it back a bit.

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