The Worst Menu Item At Taco Bell, According To A Dietitian

Fast-food restaurants don't exactly have a reputation for serving healthy meals. They're more or less places to stop when you're looking for something quick, but they often lacks the nutritious impact of a home-cooked meal. Burgers, fries, and chicken nuggets are just a few fast-food staples — none of which are known for fueling the body.

According to a survey from Michigan State University, 60% of Americans say food labels impact what they decide to buy; meaning, they care about what they're putting into their bodies. And more fast-food places have begun trying to offer healthier alternatives to the processed products they first made their money on. These days, McDonald's offers healthy food options such as apple slices and oatmeal, while places such as Popeyes and Chick-fil-A offer blackened or grilled chicken options in addition to the usual fried choice.

Taco Bell has also made strides in attempting to feature healthier menu items. However, one registered dietitian says the Mexican-style chain's worst menu options might actually surprise you.

The Grande Scrambler is the worst breakfast item

Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, tells Mashed that there's a reason some of Taco Bell's menu items can appear healthier than they truly are. She notes that many of the chain's ingredients are healthy on their own, such as beans, rice, and vegetables like lettuce and tomato. "However, the added ingredients to enhance these items' taste and texture quickly cause them to become more calorie-dense than nutrient-dense," Best says. 

Plus, the labels added to the food can sometimes convince consumers the product is healthy when it actually isn't. For example, the Grande Scrambler, one of Taco Bell's breakfast options, is labeled as vegetarian (lacto-ovo vegetarian, which means it's vegetarian for those who consume eggs and dairy). But Best notes that "vegetarian doesn't always equal healthy." 

According to Taco Bell's website, the Grande Scrambler has 650 calories and 34 grams of fat — 9 of which are saturated fat, which is a whopping 45% of the recommended daily value. The breakfast item also boasts 1,440 milligrams of sodium — nearly an entire day's worth, according to the American Heart Association, which recommends ideally no more than 1,500 milligrams per day. "This burrito isn't heart healthy or ideal for a balanced diet," Best says.

Taco Bell's Quesarito is its worst lunch or dinner item

Those looking for a healthy lunch option should probably avoid the Taco Bell Quesarito. Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, says it's another option that appears healthy due to its individual ingredients. The burrito contains meat and rice, which can both be seen as healthy, but it's clouded with unhealthy add-ons, including chipotle sauce and cheddar cheese. "They [Taco Bell] add calories from fat due to added oils along with cheese, sour cream, and refried beans made with added oil," Best says.

Taco Bell's website says the Quesarito contains 650 calories and 33 grams of fat. And similarly to the Grande Scrambler, it's high in sodium, with 1,420 milligrams of the stuff. Though the menu item does have 21 grams of protein, it's important to consider the calories, fat, and salt that would be consumed along with it.

Those looking for a healthier Taco Bell choice might want to consider the Chili Cheese Burrito, which has 350 calories, 17 grams of fat, and 980 milligrams of sodium, per Taco Bell's website.