Well to start off with we must define what you mean by healthy. There are many different ways that you can count things as healthy and it may depend on what type of diet you are on. So are you looking for low calorie McDonald's food or low carb McDonald's or even low fat? Whicheve one you want to choose and are considering healthy in your criteria may dictate choosing different food at McDonalds to eat.
What we also must say at this point is that overall it is obviously not fantastically healthy to eat fast food but a lot of the fast food providers these days are looking carefully into their nutritional information and trying to make food more healthy for us. Added to that we cannot always be as good as we need to be with our food and occasionally we might want to treat ourselves to something different or we might be out with friends and not be able to dictate where we can eat.
So what I am trying to do here is to point you in the direction of the most healthy food that you can choose at McDonalds.
Low Carb McDonalds
Low carb diets still seem to be very popular these days and McDonalds do provide nutritional information on carbohydrates. If you can eat anything on the menu that does not have a bun then you are off to a good start. For example take Chicken McNuggets. 4 pieces of Chicken McNuggets contain 11g of carbs. You could also choose one of the chicken wraps - the tortilla contains most of the carbs but not as much as a bun.
But the best thing to do is to go for a burger (big mac is fine) and just don't eat the bun. If you have a big mac without the bun then you are only talking 6g of carbs.
Whatever you do, don't go for fries (and this is a theme that will carry on through this article!). These are really the worst things to choose and have the most carbs.
Low Calorie McDonalds
With trying to find low calorie McDonalds options this time the meat and the bun have pretty much a similar quantity of calories. For example in a Big Mac there are around 540 calories of which 210 come from the bun.
The grilled chicken breast fillet does have less calories than the beef burger so that would be a preferred option.
But overall you are going to be better off having a McDonalds salad rather than any kind of burger. The lowest calorie dressing to choose is a light vinaigrette dressing rather than caesar dressing or anything similar. Croutons are only an extra 50 calories so probably worth it for the extra taste they bring.
Caesar salad: 220 calories
Croutons: 50 calories
Caesar dressing: 160 calories (you could easily just have half of it)
Light vinaigrette dressing: 45 calories
Low Fat McDonald's
So for low fat options at McDonald's the chicken caesar salad with croutons is again the best option (7g of fat) but definitely don't go for the caesar dressing, stick with the light vinaigrette.
If you want to go for a sandwich type option then then actually the burgers are not hugely high in fat. A hamburger contains 9g of fat in a 100g serving which is not huge. The majority of the burgers contain less than 10% fat overall particularly if you do not have cheese in them. Even the Angus mushroom and swiss comes in at 17g of fat for 283g of burger.
However, don't touch the fries!
Obviously if you stick to the diet drinks then you will be OK. If you can, get a bottle of water and that will be even better. Diet Coke has no carbs, no calories and no fat so in terms of those diets you are fine.
Only have the shakes if you are on the low fat plan as they are heavily loaded with carbs and calories but have 13g of fat to 350g of shake (still 41% of your fat intake though!).
Nutritional Information on McDonald Fries
So, a word about fries (in addition to don't go there). Regular fries have:
- 485 calories
- 25g of fat
- 60g of carbs
Nothing more need be said!
July 2011 Announcement on Nutrition Changes
In July 2011 McDonalds announced that it would take further steps to increase the nutritional value of its' products. The majority of changes are aimed at the children's meals - in particular the Happy Meal, which from September 2011 onwards included a serving of apples and a smaller serving of fries. There is also the option of a fat free chocolate milk drink or low fat white milk.
In addition to these changes there are others being put into place to reduce the salt content, saturated fat content and calorific value of food over the next few years. Some of these changes will be made be reducing portion sizes but others will be made by "reformations and innovations".
Sometimes fast food is just a way of life and can't be avoided but if you do have it then it's good to know what your best options are. McDonald's have made a lot of efforts to provide healthy food so don't feel bad about indulging every so often, just choose wisely if you do.
Also, different countries do provide different options so there may be other things to choose from where you are, as well as some common items having slightly different nutritional vlues.
All images are from mcdonalds.com website.
peachy from Home Sweet Home on November 27, 2014:
I thought mcd us full og cholesterol, maybe we should choosr the items
Melanie Palen from Midwest, USA on January 05, 2014:
I think this is really interesting, especially considering that at least at the McDonald's around here they no longer sell the Caesar salad. That was the only thing I would ever get there!
Great hub, voted up and shared!
cybill on August 06, 2012:
I KNOW A GREAT WAY FOR MCDONALD'S RESTURANT TO MAKE THEIR FOOD EVEN MORE NUTRITIONAL @ THAT'S BY CONSIDERING USING CANOLA SENSE CANOLA IS A HEALTHY COOKING OIL.
Marian L (author) from UK on April 15, 2011:
Yes cogerson I think the fries are my favourite and before researching this I didn't realise quite how bad they were!
@jennybus I do have the salads sometimes and the chicken itself is quite nice but there does seem to be a lot of lettuce!
Jenny from Sydney, Australia on April 15, 2011:
the chicken salads are nice. they taste better than the chicken burgers and are healthier too.
UltimateMovieRankings from Virginia on April 15, 2011:
Well it sounds like all the stuff I like from McDonald's is not good for me.....but the fries...they are so good...thanks for posting.....I guess I can get the 4 piece and things will be better...a very interesting hub...thanks for sharing