Mexican Food Face-Off: Which is Healthier?

Red Sangria

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.

Yellow Corn Chips
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.


Mexican Cheese Blend
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.


corn tortillas
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.


Jarred Salsa
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.)