Top 3 tips for eating Fast Food salads
Fast Food Salads – Healthy or Heart-breaking?
In an effort to cater to Canadians who are health-conscious, many fast food restaurants are changing their menus to include entrée salads in and amongst the usual burgers, fries and chicken nuggets.
At first glance, a salad seems like a better choice than a fat-laden, sodium-soaked cheeseburger. But don’t assume too quickly – you could be consuming as many (or more!) calories, grams of fat and milligrams of sodium as a burger with all the fixings.
The average entrée salad at a fast food joint weighs in at 405 calories, 28 grams of fat (6 grams from saturates) and 1054 milligrams of sodium. Given that a healthy woman should consume no more than 65 grams of fat (with less than 20 grams coming from saturates and trans fats) and no more than 2300 milligrams of sodium in one day, you could be consuming over 40 percent of your daily fat intake and over 45 percent of your sodium limit in one sitting!
For example, Arby’s Santa Fe Market Fresh Salad with Tortilla strips and Ranch dressing delivers 655 calories, 46 grams of fat, 9 grams of cholesterol-raising saturated fat and a whooping 1300 milligrams of sodium. That’s more than a Bacon Cheeseburger at McDonald’s which has 330 calories, 14 grams of total fat , 6 grams of saturated fat and 890 milligrams of sodium.
That’s not to say that you can’t make a healthier choice with fast food salads. Havey’s Warm Grilled Chicken Salad with Asian Sesame Dressing has a reasonable 230 calories, 5.5 grams of fat (5 grams saturated) and 814 milligrams of sodium. Mr.Sub’s Albacore Tuna Salad with Lite Italian dressing is an even better choice with only 220 calories, 1.4 grams of “bad” saturated fat and 600 milligrams of sodium.
The worst fast food salad was Taco Bell’s Fiesta Taco Salad, a crispy tortilla bowl filled with seasoned ground beef, real cheddar cheese, hearty beans, crisp, shredded lettuce, chives, diced ripe tomatoes and sour cream. (Chunky salsa and crunchy red tortilla strips are served on the side.) This combination packs 850 calories on to your waistline, including 45 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated, and 1690 milligrams of sodium. That’s 75 percent of your daily limit for fat in one salad!
Of course, eating salad without the dressing is the lowest calorie choice, but not many people would do that. So, looking how you can save calories but still have a light dressing, Mr. Sub’s Garden Salad with lite Italian dressing is one of the best choices at only 115 calories. However, the “lite” dressing has 9 grams of fat (full fat Ranch dressing at Mr. Sub as 20 grams).
3 Tips for Surviving the Fast Food Salad
1.) Always ask for a fat-free or fat-reduced dressing. If there isn’t one available, use only half the package given to you. This will not only drop the fat by up to 50 percent, but will also spare you a bit of sodium. A note of caution on dressings: Vinaigrettes such as the Kraft Balsamic offered at Burger King are not always lower in calories and fat than the creamy dressings.
2.) Skip most of the toppings. Some food fast chains have toppings – like silvered almonds and dried fruit – that are worth adding to your leafy greens. However, foregoing the less than nutritious optional deep-fried croutons, tortilla strips, crispy noodles, cheese and bacon can save your waistline up to 120 calories.
3.) Go for grilled chicken. McDonald’s, select Dairy Queen locations, Harvey’s. Mr. Sub and Subway all offer salads with grilled chicken as opposed to crispy, breaded, deep-fried chicken. Choose grilled and save yourself up to 7 grams of fat as in the case of McDonald’s Garden Fresh with Warm Grilled Chicken versus McDonald’s Garden Fresh with Warm Crispy Chicken.