Instead of fried, make your taco healthified with these 10 healthy taco toppings! Tacos are so easy to throw together and their deliciousness is enjoyed by all. I don't think I have ever tasted a taco I didn't like, and the key is really in the toppings. There isn't a wrong way to build a taco, however, there are some toppings that can easily tip the scale into unhealthy territory. Fortunately, healthy taco toppings are usually more mouthwatering, flavorful, and make you feel good too!
When looking for healthy taco toppings choose vibrant, fresh, and varied textured ingredients to make your taco extra tasty. There are absolutely other healthy taco toppings to choose that are not on the list, but I wanted to talk about a few of my favorites, then share the ultimate combination at the end.
Fact: the more sparkle, sass, and color your toppings have, the better they will taste. I'm sure that's been scientifically proven somewhere .. or at least I know it to be true!
10 Healthy Taco Toppings:
(And Why They Are Oh-So Good For You)
Jalapeño: The spicy sensation packed in a jalapeño comes from the chemical capsaicin. Capsaicin is known for slowing your appetite, slightly raising your metabolism, and gives you an endorphin rush which can give you a euphoric feeling.
Greek Yogurt: Swap out sour cream for plain greek yogurt and I promise you, no one will know the difference. This healthy taco topping swap has become my go-to topping trick! Compared to sour cream, greek yogurt has more protein and less calories, plus you get the added probiotic bonus you get with yogurt.
Red Onion: Onions contain a specific antioxidant called quercetin, which helps protect your heart and can lower your cancer risk. Onions are really high in quercetin, and have more quercetin than tea! Other compounds found in onions have an anti-micorbial effect, which can help protect your gut! So why is a red onion better? The red skin of an onion has added antioxidant power to further protect your heart and fight cancer. Tip: cut the onion right before serving to preserve the most nutrients and antioxidants.
Lime Juice: Not only are limes full of vitamin C, that vitamin C helps your body better absorb certain nutrients. Vitamins and minerals like iron and niacin (found in foods like chicken, corn tortillas, and beans) are better absorbed by your body with a little drizzle of vitamin C packed lime juice. The juice from 1 lime gives you 22% of the vitamin C you need in one day - which is nothing to vitamin-sneeze at!
Cotija Cheese: One of my latest cheese favorites is cotija cheese! Cotija is a strongly flavored and aged Mexican cheese, perfect for crumbling over tacos. I love using cotija as a taco topping because it has so much flavor, so you don't need to use as much as other cheeses. Cotija also has a little more protein than other traditional taco topping cheeses, which will make your meal more satisfying and keeping your appetite at bay a little while longer. I found cotija at my local Whole Foods, so check there first!
Pomegranate Seeds: Pomegranate seeds are not only loaded with fresh flavor, they make the best healthy taco toppings! Their high antioxidant and polyphenol content protects your cells and helps to fight heart disease and cancer. Pomegranate seeds also fight inflammation, which helps your body stay in a normal, healthy balance. (Check out my pomegranate seed guacamole recipe here!)
Green Spring Onions: Just like the healthy onion benefits listed for the red onion, green onions are even more nutritious and nutrient dense. The green ends of the onions have 100 times more phytonutrients than regular onions. How about that for cancer-fighting and heart protecting onion super power?
Mango: Mangos are packed full of the cancer fighting polyphenol called Ataulfo. Those powerful polyphenols help the body fight colon cancer while helping the healthy colon cells stay healthy. There is also some recent research that found mangos to help improve bone density and stabilize blood sugars in mice. Mangos are also really high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. Tip: the more ripe the mango, the more antioxidants it has!
Research Sources: (Cabbage - 1, 2, 3, 4) (Cilantro - 1, 2) (Jalapeño - 1) (Cotija Cheese - 1) (Greek Yogurt - 1, 2) (Pomegranate Seeds - 1, 2) (Purple Onion - 1, 2) (Green Onion - 1) (Lime Juice - 1, 2) (Mango - 1, 2)
So, out of these 10 delicious healthy taco toppings, what's my favorite combination? Flakey grilled cod topped with juicy mango, flavor bursts of pomegranate seeds, crisp green onion, hints of leafy cilantro, salty cotija cheese crumbles, and the spritz of a sour lime wedge, all nestled together in a warm corn tortilla. Oh yeah, that's how I taco!
Now go make some dynamite, delicious tacos with these stellar healthy taco toppings! Remember, choose vibrant, fresh toppings for the most flavor and health benefits.
What are your favorite healthy taco toppings? I'd love to taco-bout it!