What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “salad?” If you’re like most people, then it’s likely that you think of a light and healthy appetizer or snack. While it’s admirable that an increasing number of people are trying to eat better, far too many people are still eating the wrong meals. If you eat a salad but still order it from a fast food chain, you might be causing yourself more harm than good. Really! Don’t pack yourself on the back just yet; take a look at the facts and decide for yourself if fast food chain salads are healthy or not.
Are fast food chain salads healthy?
Sara Moulton, the food editor of Good Morning America, tried thirty salads from popular fast food chains like Subway, Burger King, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and even smaller chains like Au Bon Pain. In conclusion, she said that people would be better off choosing a burger for dinner if fat and calorie count were to be taken into consideration. But is that honestly a surprise? Let’s take a closer look at her findings.
Even though this chain is trying to offer more healthy food, they are still fast food. Instead of using real greens, the salad mostly consists of grape tomatoes and iceberg lettuce, which have zero nutrients and fiber. Their recommended choice of toppings on a basic salad, such as Caesar or California Cobb, all comes with either crispy fried or grilled chicken. The chicken contains 270 calories and fat of 13 grams. Putting some light balsamic vinaigrette dressing in the mix, the total comes to 360 calories and 21 grams of fat. Moreover, the grilled chicken is either too salty or over-seasoned. Bottom line: the food is tasty, but it is not what one would call healthy.
This fast food chain only offers two salads: the chicken Caesar salad and a side salad. While the chicken is quite salty and dry, the creamy Caesar salad is just decent. Again, you’re getting more iceberg lettuce than you can handle. If you have the salad and chicken, you will gain a total of 390 calories, fat of 26 grams, and sodium of 1370 mg. For another 65 calories and 3 grams less of fat, it is possible to have a double hamburger. As hard to believe as it might sound, these nutritional facts are real.
Subway salads take your sandwich topping and use it as a salad base. The base subway salad consists of two sandwich meal toppings choices, iceberg lettuce, sweet pickles, and pickled jalapeno peppers. Even though the calorie content for these isn’t quite high, the salad itself lacks taste. The veggie delight salad is just 50 calories and 1 gram of fat. In contrast, the veggie delight sandwich has 230 cals and 3 g of fat. A steak sandwich without cheese and oil makes up for 320 cals and 7 g fat. Moulton, says that if you find yourself at a Subway chain, just have a sub instead of a salad given how small and tasteless they are. Of course, you could always just go elsewhere, as Subway sandwhichs—while tasty—are not good for your health.
Even though when the salads were appealing to the taste buds, Moulton said that their salads weren’t better in nutritional value. Their newest addition, the Southwest Chicken Caesar salad, has 495 calories and 32 grams of fat when you add croutons and the South West dressing. The chicken BLT salad has the right amount of cheese and real bacon but could have used a little more mixed greens rather than iceberg lettuce. When you add the blue cheese, the calorie count comes to a total of 570 while the fat count is at 43 g. The dressing is at a minimum of 100 calories! Skip these salads at all costs.
As you can see, none of the salad preparations in these four fast food chains can be classified as healthy. Sure, they might not be all that bad if you have them on occasions, but regular fast food salad is a complete waste of effort. If you want to indulge, grab a small burger. If you want to eat a healthy salad, head elsewhere entirely!