You don’t have to wait until Taco Tuesday or National Taco Day to enjoy one of America’s favorite foods! As a country, we consume an estimated 4.5 billion tacos a year. Many of those might be chicken or pork-filled, but anthropologists believe that the first tacos were actually fish tacos, because they were first eaten in the lake region of the Valley of Mexico. Get my tips for healthier tacos whether you’re making them at home or dining out. Plus, I rounded up the best healthy fish taco recipes. You’re going to love them!
Disclosure: this blog post is a collaboration with GOED. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.
Tips for a Healthier Taco Night
1. Pick a Good Protein
When it comes to tacos, it’s what’s inside that matters most. Fish is a high-quality protein, and fatty fish like salmon and trout also have omega-3s – the good fats. Even pollock, the white fish often used in fish sticks, is a source of omega-3s.
Plant food sources of omega-3s do not contain EPA and DHA, since these fatty acids come from the sea (also known as “marine-based”). The only way to get these omega-3s are by eating fish or by taking an omega-3 supplement. For people who don’t eat fish, there are vegan supplements sourced from marine microalgae (marine plants). That’s the only plant-based source of EPA and DHA.
EPA and DHA are among the most studied nutrients, with more than 30,000 published studies on their impact on health. EPA and DHA support heart health in that higher intakes of these fatty acids are linked to healthy triglyceride and blood pressure levels. These long-chain omega-3s also support brain health, and DHA in particular has been associated with eye health.
Fish and Seafood Highest in Omega-3s
Wondering which types of fish and seafood are the highest in omega-3 fatty acids? As a general rule, any oily fish will be higher in EPA and DHA.
I love this chart from Seafood Nutrition Partnership for an at-a-glance look at the amount of omega-3s in various types of fish and seafood:
Another key point about choosing a healthier protein source for your tacos…
2. Go Grilled or Baked
Whether you’re making fish tacos or ordering them in a restaurant, make sure you get your fish baked or grilled rather than fried. That way you’re getting the benefits of the naturally-occurring omega-3s and avoiding the types of fat you don’t want that are soaked up during the frying process.
Now that you’ve picked some healthy fish, let’s make sure the rest of your taco is healthy and delicious too!
3. Have Whole Grain Tortillas
The type of tortilla could turn your taco night into a high fiber meal or one that’s lower in fiber. Choose whole grain tortillas made from corn or whole wheat flour. Check the ingredients list and look for words like “stone ground” or “whole grain”.
Some tortillas will have hydrogenated fats added to them. These types of fats, also known as trans fats, aren’t good for your heart. Pick tortillas that don’t have “hydrogenated” in the ingredients list.
4. Load Up On Veggies
Load up your tacos with plenty of shredded cabbage, lettuce, carrots, radishes, tomatoes, onion, cilantro… the possibilities are endless! Think of your taco as a hand-held salad to help you fit in more vegetables and plenty of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Find cabbage too bland? Check out my taco recipe below for a zesty slaw you’ll love!
5. Select Smart Sauces
Restaurant tacos can be swimming in sour cream, cheese and mayonnaise-based sauces that are high in calories and saturated fat and low in nutrients. Switch out your sauce for some low calorie but flavorful salsa or pico de gallo, or add some guacamole or fresh avocado for some heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. You can always try plain Greek yogurt as a healthier substitution for sour cream.
The Best Healthy Fish Taco Recipes
Other delicious fish and seafood tacos you’ll love:
Easy Salmon Tacos from Edwina Clark
Blackened Trout Tacos from Jessica at The Novice Chef
Trout Tacos from Fresh Fish Kitchen
And taco relatives:
Tuna Tomato Rosemary Burrito from Vicki Shanta Retelny at Simple Cravings Real Food
Sheet Pan Salmon Fajitas from Kara at The Foodie Dietitian
So now for the ever-important question: tacos or burritos?