The 7 Healthiest Things To Eat At McDonald's

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7 Healthiest Things On McDonald's Menu
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It's not all that bad.

By Dominique Astorino

While saying the word McDonald's in the fitness world sometimes feels like telling an expletive in front of a priest, the truth of the matter is, there are times when you don't have other options. Sometimes you're in a bind! Whether you're on a road trip and there aren't rest stops for hundreds of miles, or you simply don't have access to nutritious food on the go, the golden arches of gluttony may, in fact, be your only option.

Fortunately, if you take a conscious approach to ordering, there are a few options that can actually provide a somewhat nutritious snack or meal.

1. Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich

How to order: no bun

In terms of calories and sodium, this chicken sandwich is not much better than a classic McDonald’s cheeseburger (crazy, right?). 

Quick fix: lose the Artisan Roll — you’ll also lose over 60 percent of the calories, nearly all the carbs, 350 milligrams of sodium, nine grams of sugar . . . Even a few grams of fat! The result will be a high-protein, low-calorie lunch that will leave you feeling full in a pinch.


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2. Fruit and Maple Oatmeal

How to order: no cranberry-raisin blend

McDonald’s Fruit and Maple Oatmeal with the works include brown sugar, diced apples, cranberries, raisins, and light cream. The breakfast dish is surprisingly high in protein, calcium, iron, vitamin C, and fiber while being low in fat and sodium. The downfall is the carbs and sugar — 32 grams of sugar is extremely high, and 58 grams of carbs is nothing to mess with either. 

By simply cutting the cranberry-raisin topping, you’ll lose half the sugar and still have the nutrients from the apples (and flavor from brown sugar and cream).

3. Fruit 'N Yogurt Parfait

How to order: as is

Although still high in sugar, the shorter list of ingredients on this yogurt parfait makes it a pretty safe bet if you’ve found yourself under the big yellow M. The sweetener in the low-fat yogurt is fructose, which is low on the Glycemic Index, meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar as much as other sweeteners. At four grams of protein, with only 150 calories, the Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait gets a solid “not bad” from us.


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4. Premium Southwest Chicken Salad With Grilled Chicken

How to order: no cilantro-lime glaze, no cheese, no tortilla strips

The idea that all salads are healthy can be deceitful. This salad, served as is, has as many calories as a McD’s double cheeseburger and even more sodium. Although super high in protein, the chicken filet accounts for nearly 600 grams of sodium — 25 percent of your daily value. 

Here’s your best bet: cut the unnecessary toppings. Lose the cilantro-lime glaze, the cheese, the chili-lime tortilla strips, and go easy on the dressing. You’ll take it to 180 calories from 450, 2.5 grams of fat from 19, 13 carbs from 37, and 610 milligrams of sodium from 1220 — all while keeping the protein super high with the chicken and reaping the vitamin A, calcium, iron, and vitamin C benefits of the greens and veggies.

5. Side Salad

How to order: as a substitution for fries

Skip the fries in your combo meal and opt for greens instead. This side salad is easy to deconstruct: baby kale and spinach, green leaf and romaine lettuce, and grape tomatoes. You know exactly what you’re getting.

The pitfall is the lackluster assortment of dressings — options are either calorie-laden or don't have enough healthy fats. While Newman’s Own Ranch is decadent, it’s loaded with fat and calories, so if you opt for that, be mindful of your portions. Also, try not to go for the low-fat dressings; while they may seem like a healthier option, salads typically need a dressing with fat to allow your body to absorb the vegetables’ nutrients.


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6. Fruit (Cuties or Apple Slices)

How to order: as a substitution for fries

Did you know there's fresh fruit on offer at McDonald's? Opt for Cuties for a natural sugar source or apple slices for a vitamin-rich snack instead of french fries or dessert.

7. Egg McMuffin

How to order: no Canadian bacon, no salted butter (optional: no cheese) 

Eggs are a great go-to for a protein fix, and there are no added ingredients in McDonald’s egg patties.

Although the Canadian bacon is “lean,” there are nitrites on the ingredient list, so it’s best to avoid it. Although optional, skipping the salted butter and cheese will save you half the fat, while still keeping the protein high. Surprisingly, the English muffin itself has five grams of protein, 1.5 grams of iron, and 140 milligrams of calcium, so consider keeping it around if you’re not on a gluten-free or low-carb diet.

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All photos courtesy of McDonald's

This article was originally published at Popsugar Fitness. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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