Like many traditional Mexican dishes, pozole is a corn-based dish often enjoyed across the country during festivities. That said, you can also enjoy it any other day of the year if you wish.
It is a stew usually made of meat, vegetables, sauce, broth and hominy – an ingredient made from corn. There are many recipes to choose from, mainly varying the type of meat and sauce used.
Because it’s such a popular dish both inside and outside Mexico, you might be wondering if this flavor-packed dish is healthy.
This article reviews pozole and tells you if it is healthy or not.
Pozole is one of the most popular traditional dishes of Mexican cuisine. It is a soup or stew whose main ingredient is hominy.
Hominy is made by treating dried corn kernels in a process called nixtamalization. Nixtamalization was developed by ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations and includes the alkaline cooking of corn kernels (
Nixtamalization is traditionally done using a white substance called lime which consists mainly of calcium hydroxide. Corn kernels are cooked in lime, soaked overnight at room temperature, and washed in water to remove any excess lime (
To prepare pozole, hominy is cooked in pork or chicken broth.
Other ingredients typically include:
- pork or chicken
- green or red hot sauce
- shredded lettuce or cabbage
- radish slices
- diced onion
Among the many variations of recipes available, three main types stand out: red, green and white pozole.
Red pozole is made from a red hot sauce usually containing ingredients like red tomatoes and chili peppers.
As the name suggests, green pozole is made from a green hot sauce that replaces red tomatoes and chili peppers with green ones. It may also include cilantro and epazote, an herb native to southern Mexico.
In contrast, white pozole contains only the stew and no added sauce.
Pozole is a corn-based stew made with pork or chicken, vegetables, and condiments. It can be red or green depending on the choice of hot sauce used. It can also be white if no sauce is added.
Pozole is a balanced, nutrient-dense soup that provides all three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
A 1 cup (238 gram) serving of pozole with pork and chicken broth provides (
- calories: 214
- Crabs: 12 grams
- Protein: 18 grams
- Fat: 10 grams
- Niacin: 36% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Sodium: 25% DV
- Zinc: 20% of DV
- Phosphorus: 15% of DV
- Potassium: 8% DV
- Iron: 7% of DV
This dish is rich in vitamins and minerals like zinc, potassium and niacin, also known as vitamin B3. It also offers calcium and magnesium, both of which are increased during the nixtamalization process (
Interestingly, niacin deficiency or pellagra – a condition characterized by symptoms such as depression, listlessness, headaches, fatigue and memory loss – is rare in countries where many traditional dishes are centered on corn (
In addition, nixtamalization improves the protein quality of hominy and reduces the antinutrient content of maize. Antinutrients are compounds that can interfere with the absorption of certain nutrients in your body (
Therefore, enjoying a cup of pozole can be a comforting way to add more nutrients to your diet.
Pozole is a balanced dish rich in proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, vitamins and minerals. The content of certain nutrients is enhanced during the nixtamalization process that maize undergoes.
Pozole is a healthy dish that may provide some health benefits.
May support weight loss
As mentioned, pozole is a high-protein stew that provides up to 18 grams of protein per 1 cup (238 grams).
This represents 32 to 38% of the recommended daily nutrient intake (RDA) for protein. The RDA reflects the amount of protein you should consume per day to avoid protein deficiency and is set at 0.36 grams per pound (0.8 grams per kg) of body weight (
Research shows that high protein diets are effective for weight management. This is likely due to the effect of protein on energy expenditure and appetite (
Protein increases your energy expenditure by increasing diet-induced thermogenesis (DIT) and resting metabolism. DIT refers to the energy needed to absorb, metabolize, and store nutrients in your body (
For comparison, fats and carbohydrates increase DIT by 0–3% and 5–10%, respectively, while protein produces a 20–30% increase (
Protein also helps increase feelings of fullness and reduce your appetite by modulating gut hormones (
Specifically, evidence suggests that protein can increase hunger-reducing hormones like glucagon-like cholecystokinin (CCK), peptide 1 (GLP-1), and peptide YY (PYY). Protein also lowers levels of ghrelin, an appetite-promoting hormone (
Rich in fiber
The nixtamalization process used to produce hominy causes significant chemical, nutritional, and quality changes in maize (
One notable change is corn’s increase in resistant starch, a type of fiber associated with many potential health benefits (
Increasing the resistant starch content in a food is linked to better blood sugar control, as fiber helps lower the glycemic index (GI) of the food and improves insulin sensitivity (
A low GI means that a food containing carbohydrates will not raise your blood sugar level very much. Better insulin sensitivity means your cells will respond better to the hormone insulin, which is needed for sugar metabolism.
Resistant starch also acts as a prebiotic, which is food for the good bacteria in your gut. This increases the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which can improve your gut health (
Additionally, resistant starch may improve heart health by helping your body manage triglyceride and cholesterol levels (
Gluten-free diets can include foods such as fruits, legumes, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, and gluten-free grains and pseudocereals such as corn, rice, millet, sorghum, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth and teff (
Being a corn-based dish, pozole is naturally gluten-free. This makes it a great option for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity who follow a gluten-free diet (
Reports from the Celiac Sprue Association — the largest nonprofit celiac disease support group in the United States — indicate that zein, the main protein in corn, does not cause allergic reactions in people with celiac disease. celiac disease (
Thus, corn, cornmeal, and homily are safe ingredients to use in gluten-free products (
Pozole may promote weight loss due to its high protein content. It may promote health due to its resistant starch. In addition, it is a naturally gluten-free dish.
Despite the potential health benefits of pozole, the stew can also have downsides.
For starters, it can be high in sodium. This may be especially true if you’re using pre-made broth when cooking hominy and serving it with high-sodium sides like tortilla chips.
High sodium intakes have been linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure in some people. This, in turn, may increase the risk of stroke (
The pozole can also turn into a high-fat, high-calorie meal, depending on your choice of meat and toppings.
To control the sodium, fat, and calorie content of your meal, try making your own broth or using a lower-sodium version. Opt for leaner cuts of meat like pork tenderloin or skinless chicken breast, and limit your portion sizes of high-calorie sides and garnishes.
Pozole can be high in sodium, fat, and calories depending on your choice of ingredients. Opt for low-sodium broth, lean cuts of pork or chicken, and keep your serving size of toppings in mind.
Pozole can be enjoyed in different ways, for example depending on your choice of salsa.
In addition to choosing between red, green, or no sauce, some recipes add beans to the mix. Others only include beans as a vegetarian or vegan alternative to pork or chicken, often accompanied by vegetable broth.
While the pozole is typically topped with shredded lettuce or cabbage, sliced radishes, diced onions, avocado and lime wedges, it’s also common to find tortilla chips, cilantro and sour cream as a finishing touch.
Pozole recipes can vary depending on the choice of sauce, and some require additional ingredients. You can make vegetarian pozole by replacing the meat with beans and using vegetable broth. There is a wide range of toppings to choose from.
Pozole is a Mexican stew made with hominy, meat, hot red or green sauce, broth, and toppings like lettuce, cabbage, onions, avocado, and lime.
It’s a balanced dish made with nutritious ingredients that could help you lose weight, manage your blood sugar, and improve your gut health, all while being naturally gluten-free.
However, it can also be high in sodium, fat, and calories. Thus, it is advisable to use low sodium broths and lean cuts of meat.