Mexican Food Face-Off: Which is Healthier?

Food Network Magazine compared some fiesta favorites -- did your Mexican-food favorites come out on top?
148341373

148341373

Sangria

Photo by: efesan

efesan

Food Network Magazine compared some fiesta favorites -- did your Mexican-food favorites come out on top?
Red Sangria vs. White Sangria

WINNER: Red sangria. Red wine is loaded with resveratrol, a compound in the skin of grapes that is thought to be good for the heart. White wine has none of this, plus many white sangria recipes call for fruit juice and sweet liquors, so they typically end up with higher sugar counts.

119669105

119669105

Nachos

Photo by: raphael chay

raphael chay

Yellow Corn Tortilla Chips vs. Blue Corn Tortilla Chips

WINNER: It's a draw. Blue corn chips are often labeled as all natural, so people assume they're the better choice. But the FDA doesn't regulate the use of that term. In fact, the two varieties have the same number of calories and grams of fat. And because most of the sodium is added, the health factor depends more on the brand than on the color.

FNM-MexicanBlendCheese-024.tif

FNM-MexicanBlendCheese-024.tif

Photo by: Marko Metzinger/Studio D ©Hearst Communications Inc., 2013

Marko Metzinger/Studio D, Hearst Communications Inc., 2013

Cotija Cheese vs. Mexican Cheese Blend

WINNER: Mexican cheese blend. Ounce for ounce, these taco toppings have the same number of calories (about 100) and similar levels of fat and protein. But cotija cheese has three times as much sodium, giving Mexican cheese blend the edge.

155276712

155276712

Photo by: Juanmonino ©(c) Juanmonino

Juanmonino, (c) Juanmonino

Corn Tortillas vs. Flour Tortillas

WINNER: Corn tortillas. Flour tortillas have three times the calories and five times the fat of corn tortillas. Switching to whole-wheat flour tortillas boosts your fiber intake but does little to counteract the downsides.

FNM-JarSalsa-042.tif

FNM-JarSalsa-042.tif

Photo by: Marko Metzinger/Studio D ©Hearst Communications Inc., 2013

Marko Metzinger/Studio D, Hearst Communications Inc., 2013

Fresh Salsa vs. Jarred Salsa

WINNER: Jarred salsa. Fresher isn't always better: Tomatoes are one of the best sources of the antioxidant lycopene, but your body absorbs more of it when the tomatoes have been heated. Jarred salsa is typically cooked before it's packaged, so it offers more of the nutrient than the fresh version.

The Expert: Takami Kim is a registered dietitian with NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital's Department of Food and Nutrition Management.

(Photograph of cheese, tortilla and salsa by Marko Metzinger/Studio D.; Lara Robby/Studio D.)

Keep Reading

Next Up

Traditional Mexican Recipes

Beyond tacos and tostadas: true south-of-the-border fare

Mexican Cooking 101: Terms and Substitutions

Mexican Made Easy's Marcela Valladolid shares her dictionary for making Mexican cooking a breeze.

7 Healthy (and Delicious) Ways to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

With these light, vivid spins on Mexican favorites, your biggest worry will be ensuring there's enough hot sauce to go around.

How to Use Fresh Herbs

How to use fresh herbs