Tamales are a Christmas food selection staple for several family members. This conventional Mexican as well as Native American recipe is made by packing masa dough with a dental filling of meat, cheese, chili peppers, or beans, after that steaming it inside a corn husk or banana fallen leave as well as offering it with salsa or warm sauce.

Whether tamales are currently component of your household’s vacation practice or you’re seeking brand-new Christmas morning meal suggestions, you might be questioning: Are tamales healthy and balanced?

“Tamales are generally considered healthy,” states Bansari Acharya, R.D.N., a signed up dietitian as well as blog owner at FoodLove. “Especially because they’re steamed instead of fried.”

However, as a result of the fat as well as carbohydrate material, it’s important to see your parts.

Here’s just how to make this vacation reward suit your healthy and balanced consuming strategy — whether it’s Christmas early morning or an arbitrary Tuesday evening.

How Healthy Are Tamales?

Good information: Tamales might taste decadent, yet they can still suit a healthier meal strategy (in small amounts) as well as provide some vital nutrients.

“The merits of a tamale or two may surprise you!” states Libby Mills, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., signed up dietitian as well as nationwide speaker for the Academy of Nutrition as well as Dietetics.

Here’s what you require to find out about the dietary material in a tamale:


One big poultry tamale commonly includes 305 calories, though the specific calorie matter can differ relying on what active ingredients are made use of in the dental filling.

Adding cheese, sour lotion, or pork drippings to your tamales can acquire additional calories.


One big poultry tamale includes 19.4 grams of fat, which suggests over half the calories originate from fat.

That’s since conventional dishes require lard to make the masa dough, Mills clarifies. Lard is high in hydrogenated fat, yet it’s great to consume in small amounts — specifically if you restrict hydrogenated fat the remainder of the day, Mills includes.

Carbohydrates as well as fiber

Each big poultry tamale includes 21 grams of carbs as well as 1.7 grams of fiber, many thanks to the corn flour made use of to make the masa dough.

Including beans as well as veggies in the dental filling can aid you amp up the fiber matter, Mills states.


Tamales are commonly made with poultry, pork, beef, or beans — every one of which are resources of body-boosting healthy protein. One big poultry tamale includes regarding 12.3 grams of healthy protein.

Vitamins as well as minerals

Tamales offer healthy and balanced trace elements, consisting of folate, vitamin A, calcium, zinc, phosphorous, potassium, as well as iron.

Adding chili peppers can provide tamales an added kick, as well as the capsaicin in spicy peppers might aid sustain vascular as well as metabolic wellness.

One disadvantage: One big tamale can consist of as long as 656 mg of salt, many thanks to the salt, cooking powder, as well as poultry brew made use of in several dishes.

That comprises a considerable part of the advised optimum of 2,300 mg of salt each day, so you might intend to search for a lower-sodium dish.

Delicious traditional Mexican tamales piled on a table

How to Make Tamales Healthier

There are a couple of basic methods to improve the wellness advantages by making some tactical swaps in your tamale dish:

  • Replace the lard with grease to minimize the saturated fat material.
  • For the dental filling, select a lean meat such as shredded poultry bust or ground turkey.
  • Add fiber-rich beans as well as veggies to the dental filling.
  • Limit the quantity of cheese in the dental filling (or miss it completely).
  • Choose a reduced-sodium brew.
  • Add taste without including a lots of additional calories: “Build big flavor with aromatics like onion, garlic, and carrots; spices like chili and cumin; and flavorful herbs like cilantro,” Mills states.
  • Opt for a much healthier tackle tamales rather, similar to this turkey tamale pie dish.