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The #1 Unhealthiest Taco Bell Order, According to Dietitians

While this fast-food joint has many healthy options, the ones that are unhealthy are really bad.

It would be hard to argue that any other fast food restaurant has come out with as many innovative menu items as Taco Bell. The Mexican-inspired chain introduced us to culinary marvels like the Crunchwrap Supreme, Doritos Locos Tacos, Quesaritos, Naked Chicken Chalupa, and Cheesy Gordita Crunch.

None of us have been led to believe any of these popular menu items are healthy but are they really that bad for you? Although loaded with cheese and often using a deep-fried taco shell in some way, none of these famous foods earn the title of unhealthiest Taco Bell order. Dietitians actually award that to a more unassuming order: the Nachos BellGrande.

The #1 unhealthiest Taco Bell order is the Nachos BellGrande.

"Taco Bell is notorious for the Nachos BellGrande, but unfortunately, the nutrition quality isn't quite as delicious. It is one of the highest calorie, highest in sodium menu options available," says Mary Wirtz, MS, RDN, CSSD, a registered dietitian and nutritional consultant for MomLovesBest.

"Loaded with beef, sour cream, and nacho cheese sauce, this menu option contains 740 calories, 38 grams of fat [with 7 grams from saturated fat], and 1,050 milligrams of sodium per serving," says Wirtz. (Related: What Happens To Your Body When You Eat Too Much Taco Bell.)

Kylie Ivanir, MS, RD, a registered dietitian with Within Nutrition, explains that the reason the Nachos BellGrande is one of the unhealthiest options at Taco Bell is mostly due to the high carb and saturated fat content.

"The high amounts of carbohydrates and saturated fat together are called sweet fats and can lead to metabolic syndrome. They can also hijack our appetite centers leading to cravings and overeating later on," says Ivanir.

Even on their own, saturated fats have some serious side effects when eaten in excess: "Diets rich in saturated fat have been associated with increased levels of LDL ('bad') cholesterol, which can increase the risk of heart disease along with other risk factors," says Diana Gariglio-Clelland, RD, a registered dietitian at Next Luxury.

And you can't forget the sodium levels: "[The Nachos BellGrande] is also high in sodium which causes your body to retain water, increases blood pressure, and causes intense thirst," says Ivanir.

What to order instead

If you're committed to the Nachos BellGrande, there are some smart swaps you can use to make this order a little healthier.

Add vegetables: "One way to make this option healthier is to add vegetables to the top to increase the fiber content. Opting to add lettuce and extra tomatoes will add extra fiber and ensure you stay fuller for longer. The lettuce and tomatoes have a very high water content that will help to increase your water intake which will be beneficial given the amount of sodium in the nachos," says Ivanir.

Ask for guac: "Another great option is to add guacamole. Avocados are a good source of not only fiber but also fat. The fiber and fat will provide food for your gut microbiome," says Ivanir.

If you've been convinced to ditch these orders completely, there are many items on Taco Bell's menu that are healthy options.

"If you are looking for a more nutritious option that is satisfying, I would choose the Veggie Power Menu Bowl, with an extra side of black beans. From that simple swap, you will save over 200 calories and cut your fat intake in half. The extra side of black beans also adds more fiber to keep you full longer," says Wirtz.

And for more healthy options at the fast-food restaurant, see 5 Healthiest Taco Bell Orders, According to a Dietitian.

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Olivia Tarantino
Olivia Tarantino is the Managing Editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in nutrition, health, and food product coverage. Read more about Olivia
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