Taco Bell Is Edging Into ‘Healthy Fast Food,’ We Put Their New Menu To The Test

The Doritos Locos Taco. The Waffle Taco. The Fried Chicken Taco Shell. When one thinks “healthy fast food,” one does not generally jump right to Taco Bell. But the Bell has been making some unexpected changes behind the scenes to give customers healthier options.

Business Insider chatted with Taco Bell’s menu developer and dietitian, Missy Nelson — who pointed out that amid the wacky ad campaigns and over-the-top fast food, the Bell has been making some major changes. Nelson has steadily been cutting down the amount of sodium and processed foods in Taco Bell’s meals. Their breakfast menu uses cage-free eggs. Nelson even went out of her way to get Taco Bell’s vegetarian options approved by the American Vegetarian Association, which is more or less the food industry’s vegetarian watchdog. Nelson also notes the Fresco and Catalina options on the menu, and emphasizes an ongoing, if quiet, effort to give diners some better options.

Which is all well and good, but how much of it is hype? We hit Taco Bell’s nutritional calculator with a set of challenges: A satisfying veggie breakfast, an 800 calorie lunch that sounded like it was worth eating, and dinner that left us with a 2,400 calorie total day AND included nacho cheese. And you know what? On paper, at least, we pulled it off. Well, sorta:

The sodium, here, is the big issue. That’s a lot of salt, even if the Bell has cut down on the sodium. Then again, calorically we were able to hit our goals pretty well, and didn’t even have to give up a lot. Being able to double-down on the veggies also helped substantially overhaul the meal, although we could have stood to trim the fat a little as well. There was a lot of fat.

So you probably shouldn’t be hitting the Bell three meals a day, seven days a week. But, if you’re in the mood for some fast casual, it looks like Taco Bell may be a better option than we thought.

(via Business Insider)