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Are Tamales Bad For You?



Short answer

Tamales provide a lot of nutrients and fiber, but they are quite high in fat and cholesterol - eating just two of them could reverse any of their benefits. Furthermore, most tamales are made using genetically modified corn, which although still being studies, may have to potential to introduce new diseases never seen before.



Long answer

Tamales are a much beloved Meso-American food. While they are rich in several vitamins and minerals, they are not a health food as far as we're concerned. Tamales contain B-complex vitamins such as vitamin B3, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12, the least two being important in healthy brain functioning. Tamales are also a decent source of iron, phosphorous, and sodium, which - though it is important - should be monitored. 

Though they do provide several nutrients, they are not in enough abundance to counteract one tamale's high amount of fat (particularly saturated fat), calories, and cholesterol. One tamale comes with nearly (or over) 300 calories, which is one-tenth the daily limit for fat, even more for saturated fat, and about 7% the daily limit for cholesterol. Eating foods that are high in fat and cholesterol raise the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a variety of other heart problems. 

Another concern regarding tamales is that they are usually made using corn dough. In the United States, the vast majority of corn has been genetically modified (around 88%), so eating tamales is a near guarantee to be eating GMO food. While various sources say various things, there is fear that GMO-tainted food may lead to problems such as cancer, infertility, poor insulin regulation, and even the creation of diseases / illnesses never seen before.

Because the fillings can vary at a whim, giving an exact representation of the nutritional value of tamales is nigh impossible, though vegetarian versions do tend to have fewer calories and less fat.

Possible long-term side effects

  • weight gain cardiovascular disease
  • cancer
  • infertility
  • inhibit proper insulin regulation

Ingredients to be aware of

Big are tamales bad for you 2


  • contains several vitamins and minerals
  • good source of dietary fiber

Healthier alternatives

  • wheat-dough tamale

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Written by Jeff Volling | 01-07-2016

Written by Jeff Volling
Suggest improvement or correction

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