Are Fast Food Salads Really Healthy for You?

Fast Food Salads

In our busy lives where we may or may not have the time to cook healthy and fresh food, fast food offers a good option of grab-and-go meals. But we all know that fast food is generally considered unhealthy because of too many calories and little nutritional content. So what do you do? You come up with a smart idea- or so you think. Eating salad is always healthy, right? So for every visit to a fast food restaurant you stick with one of their salad offerings, avoiding the greasy burgers, fries, nuggets or other unhealthy stuff. You think you are eating healthy by ordering a salad, but odds are you aren’t. Especially if it is a salad from a fast food chain, it can be quite unhealthy for you.

Low Nutritional Value

Many fast food salad offerings fall short of what you would expect in a healthy salad- baby spinach or spring mix, broccoli, carrots, onions, snap peas, and a lean protein such as egg whites, chicken, or tuna. You can also add chickpeas, kidney beans, or other legumes. But many fast food restaurants offer supposedly “healthy” salads such as a BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad (with chicken breast, grapes, bacon bits, iceberg lettuce, and cheese all laden with preservatives, coloring agents, and additives, and with 440calories and 24 grams of fat) or a Chicken BLT Salad (with deep fried chicken, strips of bacon, and cheddar cheese that comes to 790 calories and 67 grams of total fat). While some or many of the ingredients in such salads may seem healthy and fresh, unfortunately they can have more calories than a Big Mac or a side of fries. They include minimal amounts of fiber and lean proteins.

Choose Wisely

The sad reality is that many fast food salads are saturated with fats and sodium. The good news is that not all fast food salads are laden with mind-boggling amounts of calories. Some restaurants do offer healthy salad options, and if you switch to a fat-free dressing and take a pass on heavier ingredients such as bacon bits and croutons, you will make the calorie count go down even further. So the important thing to remember is to see the ingredients carefully and find out the total fats and calories in the salad. Go for a salad that contains ingredients with more nutritional value. Iceberg or romaine lettuce, for instance, have very few nutrients, while their greener counterparts such as kale, spinach, or arugula pack more of a nutritional punch. Look for nutrition information on the menu or restaurant website. Once you know that what you are getting from the drive-thru window is actually good for you, it will be easy to make it a regular part of your diet.

So as you can see, all fast food salads are not healthy for you, but by arming yourself with information about the ingredients, you can pick the healthy ones and avoid those that lead to a diet disaster.

Sadly, fast food salads can be unhealthy for you. Look for healthy ingredients and a low calorie count. Salads with spinach, lean proteins, and legumes are healthier and have higher nutritional value.