The Unhealthiest Dish You Can Order at a Mexican Restaurant—and What to Order Instead

Keep the flavor and ditch the saturated fat when you make a healthier version of this rich Mexican dish.

It’s the weekend, and you’re ready for a fiesta. Mexican food is delicious, comforting and always feels like a celebration. There are plenty of healthy options, like fresh homemade salsas and sizzling veggie fajitas to enjoy. There are also some unhealthy ones to steer clear of. Let’s find out which dishes to limit and how to plan a healthier Mexican night.

What Is the Unhealthiest Dish You Can Order at a Mexican Restaurant?

The unhealthiest dish you can order at a Mexican restaurant is… the chimichangas. A chimichanga is essentially a deep-fried burrito. It is a Tex-Mex dish made with a large tortilla stuffed with multiple servings of rice, beans, cheese and meat. Chimichangas are usually topped with additions like salsa, guacamole and sour cream. And yes, they’re delicious; there is no denying that. A chimichanga can be a rich, occasional treat, rather than a diet staple.

Chimichangas are high in calories, saturated fat and trans fats. According to the American Heart Association, eating a diet high in saturated fat puts us at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. These risk factors go up when we eat fried food three or more times per week. Fortunately, there are tasty, lighter dishes on the menu that have all the comforting flavor of chimichangas without the deep fryer.

How to Enjoy a Better-for-You Chimichanga

Chimichangas are rich in saturated fat because they’re fried. Try making your own baked chimichangas at home to cut fat and calories while keeping all the flavor. You could also make your own homemade tortillas for a tastier and more nutritious chimichanga.

Another way to enjoy chimichangas in a healthier way is by cutting the portion size. Start your dinner with nutritious appetizers like broth-based tortilla soup, bell peppers with homemade guacamole and grilled street corn.

If you’re craving a decadent fried chimichanga, cut yourself a smaller slice and enjoy it with this lime-marinated shrimp salad for a serving of healthy fat and protein.

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Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.