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Is the Taco Salad Really a Better Option than the Taco?

Fitday Editor
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The taco salad, like many other salads, often has a potentially unearned reputation of being a healthy food option, just because it has the word "salad" in its name and has some lettuce in it. However, if you consider that taco salad comes with a few, different types of sauces when it is served, that defeats the purpose of it acting as a healthier food alternative. If you eat a taco salad plain and without any taco sauce or guacamole or other items, then it can be healthier for you than a taco. Unfortunately, if you eat a taco salad, you are likely to add a lot of ingredients and toppings for taste reasons, which will reverse any healthier benefit.

Taco Salad

The taco salad first came into being in the 1960s when it first appeared in the US as a dish inspired from Mexican cuisine. The taco salad mainly consists of a tortilla shell made of fried flour that is filled with lettuce, cheese and tomatoes. In addition, dips and sauces like guacamole, sour cream and taco sauce are also added to the taco salad. Completing this salad is some ground beef, or sometimes it is shredded, seasoned chicken, along with a base of refried beans. One serving of a taco salad comes with 279 calories and almost 24 carbs. Both of these numbers will increase drastically when you top off your taco salad with either taco sauce, guacamole or sour cream.


A taco is a Mexican dish that is world-famous. A wheat or corn tortilla is rolled around a filling that usually consists of beef, cheese, vegetables, chicken, seafood, avocado, salsa, cilantro, guacamole, lettuce, onions and tomatoes. Tacos have become so popular these days that along with that popularity comes a good variety of different tacos. There are soft-shell tacos, hard-shell tacos, fish tacos--the list is quite expansive. One large taco is very unhealthy for you with a total of 571 calories and 41 carbs present in one such serving. There is also more sodium--more than 1000 milligrams--than in a serving of one taco salad. That may sound like a taco is clearly more unhealthy than a taco salad, but with all the toppings that you add to a taco salad, the two come out closer in nutritional value than you may expect.

A Better Option?

A taco salad may appear to be the healthier option for you if you compare it to a regular taco, but there are other things to consider, namely the topping and sauces. Adding guacamole, sour cream or taco sauce will quickly increase the carb and calorie count to the point where your taco salad is hardly any healthier than a regular taco. If you omit those additional toppings, however, your taco salad will be healthier than a taco, yet most people add those sauces because a taco salad will taste too plain without their presence.

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