Eating Healthier at Fast Food and Chain Restaurants

Baja Fresh
Boston Market
Burger King
El Pollo Loco
Jack in the Box
Kentucky Fried Chicken
La Madeleine
Maggiano's Little Italy
Noodles & Company
Olive Garden
Panda Express
Panera Bread
Ruby Tuesday
Taco Bell

Baja Fresh Burrito Diablo

The Health of It All

Eating Healthier at Fast Food Restaurants : Baja Fresh

Baja Fresh Logo


Baja Fresh. The name makes you think that the food is going to be fresh and nutritious. People have the same perception about Subway because they use the word "fresh" in their marketing. The take home message from what we have learned is that fresh does not equal healthy.

But Baja Fresh tries to back up their marketing with the following Core Values listed on their Web site:

"At Baja Fresh® we believe eating well is a way of life and a state of mind. We always choose the handmade, not the processed. The farm-fresh, not the tin-canned. Flavor and nutrition over fillers and fads. Try Baja Fresh® today and discover the difference that fresh food can make."

While it may be true that they are using fresh ingredients, the food is not nutritious. This is for a number of reasons, the main one being the amount of salt they use. It is really appalling how hard it is to eat at Baja Fresh, considering the number of items on the menu. For example, they do not have a single burrito containing less than 1,000 milligrams of sodium. The average is actually 2,519 mg across their 150 different burritos.

That's over a teaspoon of salt per serving!

Their Dos Manos Shrimp and Black Bean burrito contains 5,020 mg of sodium. That's over 2 teaspoons! Likewise, every item in their "Favorites" category is over 1 gram of sodium and we can recommend only one of their salads.

As fast food goes, this is pretty bad for you.

I have created this list of selected items for you to use if you get stuck with Baja Fresh as your only option. The items listed fall generally (but not always) under 400 calories or so, under 15 grams of fat and under 500 milligrams of sodium. If you are going to be stuck eating at such restaurants, this is a fairly good guideline for the healthiest options on the menu.

Note: There are two sources for nutrition information on the Baja Fresh website: an interactive version in which you click on the image of the item, choose the protein option, then display the nutrition information or the downloadable Excel spreadsheet of all Baja Fresh items.

In every case the sodium levels were higher on the spreadsheet and our list of acceptable items is based on that (we always assume the worst case scenario). The Carnitas & Corn Tortilla Baja Taco is listed as having 435 grams of fat, which is impossible, so I'm assuming it's a typographical error. I've reached out to Baja Fresh for the corrected information and will update when they respond.

You can download a PDF of the Baja Fresh spreadsheet with our choices highlighted in green.

  Calories Fat in (grams) Sat. Fat (grams) Sodium (milligrams) Fiber (grams)
Americano Taco - Veggie 170 8.0 4.5 310 1
Grilled Wahoo Taco (Corn Tortilla) 210 9.0 1.5 470 4
Baja Taco - Carnitas & Corn Tortilla 150 435.0 (sic) 1.0 190 2
Baja Taco - Shrimp 150 6.0 1.0 400 2
Baja Taco - Wahoo 160 6.0 1.0 180 2
Baja Taco - Veggie 110 3.5 0.0 45 2
Primo Taco 250 13 5 460 2
Baja BBQ Chicken Salad 400 17.0 3.0 460 12
Breakfast Taco - Veggie 220 12 6 410 1
Pronto Romaine & Kale Salad 90 4.0 1.5 320 3
Avocado Salsa 10 0.5 0.0 140 1
Chili Lime Dressing 120 12.0 2.0 170 0
Corn Avocado Salsa 35 2.0 0.0 90 1
Mango Salsa 15 0.0 0.0 115 0

Updated: June 8, 2020