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Taco Bell Is Actually One of the Healthiest Fast Food Chains Around

Good Housekeeping logo Good Housekeeping 6/19/2018 Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Good Housekeeping Institute

Choose items off of Taco Bell's vegetarian or Power Menu for a more nutrient-packed fast food order. The chain has some surprisingly healthy options.: "Live Mas" With These 7 Healthy Taco Bell Orders © Getty Images "Live Mas" With These 7 Healthy Taco Bell Orders Two words: Power Menu.

Taco Bell has some impressively nutritious options on their menu. For the fast food chain behind fried chicken chalupas and candy-flavored slushies, it's actually pretty committed to nutrition nowadays. Taco Bell keeps a registered dietitian (RD) on staff and since 2008 has reduced sodium across its menu offerings by 15%.

The thing that makes Taco Bell stand out from the pack is the ability to add extra veggies, sides, and swaps to your order, which you can play around with via its online nutrition calculator.

That’s great, but what if you really just want to indulge? Taco Bell makes headlines for coming up with deep-fried items like Doritos tacos or specialty sugary beverages. You can always skim a few calories off the top by asking to “make it fresco.” That nixes creamy, calorie-laden dressings, sour cream, guac, and cheese but also adds pico de gallo (often on the side).

a close up of food: A Taco Bell Power Bowl contains about 500 calories - and that’s including guac. © Design by Betsy Farrell A Taco Bell Power Bowl contains about 500 calories - and that’s including guac.

With that in mind, you can find the best low-calorie options at a Taco Bell by keeping it simple. Opt for tacos, salads, power bowls, sides, and the occasional burrito. These all contain grilled meat, veggies, cheese, guac, and beans - which pack protein plus fiber. You're better off skipping the nachos and quesadillas since they're tough to make more nutritious or add more veggies.

An order from the vegetarian or Power Menu is a better bet. Those contain added veggies and room to pack in more. Great picks from the vegetarian menu include the cheesy bean and rice burrito, bean burrito, black bean burrito, and even the seven-layer burrito - especially if you add extra veggies to any of the above.

280 Calorie Power Menu Veggie Burrito © Design by Betsy Farrell 280 Calorie Power Menu Veggie Burrito

See below for some more nutrient-packed ideas that won't leave you overstuffed:

Power Menu Veggie Burrito: Order it with extra pico de gallo, extra romaine, easy on the cheese, regular guac, and regular beans. Skip the sour cream and avocado sauce, and choose add-ons of salsa, jalapeno peppers, and tomatoes. You’ll land yourself a nice, filling lunch that’s 380 calories, and still saves some room for a piece of fruit.

Power Menu Veggie Bowl With Chicken: Order it with extra pico de gallo, extra romaine, regular guac, sauces, cheese, and beans; skip the rice, and add chicken, onions, tomatoes, salsa, and jalapenos.

Power Menu Burrito With Chicken: Order it with extra pico de gallo, extra romaine, regular guac, sauces, cheese, and beans; skip the rice and add chicken, onions, tomatoes, salsa, and jalapenos.

Gallery: The best and worst fast food drive-thru meals (courtesy Eat This! Not That!)

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