If you’re like me, you love to warm up in the winter with a bowl of pozole. But you may be wondering: is pozole healthy? And if so, what specific nutrition benefits does it provide?
As a Registered Dietitian and proud Mexican-American, I’m very happy to share that pozole is a very healthy food, offering many nutrition benefits.
In this article we’ll take a closer look at the nutrition benefits of pozole, and compare nutrition facts for different types of pozole. Finally, I’ll share my tips for building a balanced meal when you’re eating pozole.
So let’s get started, shall we?
What is Pozole?
Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup made with hominy, meat, and a variety of herbs and spices. It is typically served with toppings such as shredded cabbage, radishes, avocado, and lime.
In Mexico, you’ll find pozole as both an everyday meal and as a special occasion food for holidays and celebrations.
Different types of pozole
The most famous type of pozole is pozole rojo, or red pozole. This refers to the color of the broth, which is made from dried chiles such as chile guajillo. Pozole rojo traditionally features pork.
Pozole verde (green pozole) is another popular variety. Green pozole uses tomatillos, fresh poblano peppers, and herbs to get the signature green broth. Chicken is more common in pozole verde.
There is also pozole blanco, or white pozole. This means that the broth is clear. To make pozole blanco, you will flavor the broth with onions and garlic, rather than chiles. Pozole blanco traditionally features pork as the protein.
To start our conversation on pozole’s nutrition benefits, let’s compare the nutrition facts for a few different varieties.
One challenge of writing about nutrition for cultural Latino foods is lack of data. I was able to find an entry for chicken pozole and an entry for pork pozole in the USDA’s Food Data Central resource.
However, upon reviewing the ingredients these entries seem to be closest to pozole blanco, rather than pozole verde or rojo.
I did find an entry in a Mexican database for pozole verde, and pulled the automatically calculated nutrition facts from an authentic pozole rojo recipe to round out the data. Please keep these differing data sources in mind when reviewing the nutrition facts below.
|2% daily value
|7% daily value
|11% daily value
|5% daily value
|0.4% daily value
|4% daily value
|5% daily value
|13% daly value
|23% daily value
First I want to acknowledge that I had to pull this data from three different sources. I got the serving sizes as close to each other as possible, but couldn’t make it an exact match.
Looking at the data, I also have my doubts about the accuracy of some of the vitamin and mineral data for pozole verde. But the data reported here is exactly as I found it in the database.
I would have liked to compare vitamins A, B, and C across the board as well but didn’t have access to that information.
I think there are two big takeaways from the nutrition comparisons we looked at above:
- Individual recipes can make a big difference. The differences in sodium are likely due to individual recipes (or even the difference between store bought vs homemade).
- In soups, broth can add significant nutrients. The recipes had big differences in the potassium content. Since all the recipes featured pork and hominy, we can credit this difference to the different vegetables used (or not) in the broth.
Surprisingly, the pozole verde had the lowest potassium content. This seemed counterintuitive to me since fresh fruits and vegetables are some of the best potassium sources.
But this recipe for pozole verde has a high potassium content. So I’m assuming this discrepancy is due to the specific recipe used and doesn’t speak for all green pozole recipes.
Health Benefits of Pozole
Looking at the nutrition facts is a good start, but doesn’t tell us everything. There are additional health benefits to talk about with pozole, including:
Promotes Digestive Health
Pozole can provide fiber thanks to the hominy, as well as any extra vegetables you may add to your bowl like cabbage or avocado.
Fiber can help promote digestive health by keeping things moving through the digestive tract. This can help prevent constipation and other digestive issues.
Additionally, the resistant starch found in hominy can help promote a healthy balance of bacteria in the gut.
Manage Blood Sugar
Pozole is a great source of complex carbohydrates, thanks to the hominy. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy (3).
And complex carbohydrates are digested more slowly, providing a steady stream of energy throughout the day. This can help prevent energy crashes and keep you feeling energized and focused.
Are there any nutrition risks?
Overall pozole is a very healthy dish. However there are two things to keep in mind:
- Pozole can be high in cholesterol, depending on which protein is used. If you are watching your cholesterol, you may wish to choose a pozole made with chicken instead of pork.
- Some pozole can be high in sodium. This is more true for store bought or canned pozole than homemade. If you are watching your blood pressure, keep this in mind. Look for low sodium options at the store or opt for homemade.
Building a Balanced Meal with Pozole
So far we have mostly discussed the ingredients in pozole without considering how it’s served at the table.
One thing to keep in mind with pozole is that it’s very common to serve pozole with several vegetable garnishes like shredded cabbage or lettuce, radish slices, diced onion, and more. Crumbled cheese and tostadas are other common ingredients to serve alongside pozole.
Load Up on Vegetables
A bowl of pozole is already most of the way there when it comes to building a balanced meal.
The only thing I would do is add at least a quarter cup of vegetable garnishes on top like shredded cabbage or diced onion. Pick two vegetables and add two tablespoons of each, and you’ll accomplish this goal.
I say a quarter cup because the broth for green and red pozoles already contributes some vegetables, so we’re just trying to close the gap with garnishes! You can add more if you wish, or if you are having pozole blanco.
Healthy Pozole Recipes
Based on the nutrition information above, we can confidently say that most traditional pozole recipes are quite healthy. Here are some you can try at home:
As we’ve seen in this post, pozole can be a healthy and nutritious addition to your diet. It is a good source of protein, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals.
You can get even more health benefits from your bowl by adding extra vegetables on top like shredded cabbage and radish slices.
As a Latina dietitian, I love sharing the health benefits of Latino cultural foods. If you’re looking for help planning nutritious meals with Latino foods, check out my free meal planning tool below.