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Are Fast Food Salads Healthy?

Niharika Arya Mar 8, 2020
The word 'salad' sounds healthy, as it reminds us of green, crunchy, and fresh vegetables. However, not all salads are good for health. Fast food salads might be a convenient option, but can add to your calories. Find out what makes fast food salads unhealthy, and how you can increase their nutritional content.

Did you know?

Some fast food salads have more calories, fat, and sodium content than a cheeseburger.
Salads have always been the first choice of food for people who want to lose weight, or are on a diet. But are all salads healthy? Does switching to a fast food salad really help you to lose weight? I don't think so. Fast food salads are among those unhealthy foods that just sound healthy. Actually, these salads contain excess calories and saturated fat.
To attract health-conscious consumers, many fast food chains have started offering various fast food salads on their menu. Addition of dressing which make it more juicy, tasty, and attractive, makes it all the more unhealthy.

What Makes Fast Food Salads Unhealthy?

Fast food salads are not always a bad option.
The culprit behind its high calorie content is the choice of ingredients. The food items we choose are high in carbohydrates and fats, and the dressing we use is way too high in sodium. These are the two major problems with fast food salads.

Food Items High in Fats and Calories

Food items such as bacon, fried chicken, bread crumbs, cheese, etc., are loaded with calories and fats.
You might think that having them with greens is healthy, but the fact is, that you will end up eating more of the unhealthy stuff. Even the choice of cheese can shoot up the calorie content of the salad.

High Sodium Content

Fresh vegetables and herbs in salad have nothing to do with the sodium content.
Here, the main culprit is the dressing. Dressing is used to enhance the taste of salad and to make it more juicy. These dressings are very high in sodium, and majorly contribute in increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Crispy coating on the chicken and other crunchy substances like fried noodles, also contribute to the increase in sodium content.

Tips to Make Fast Food Salads Healthy

Given aheadĀ are some of the tips that you can follow to make this disguised 'healthy' option, healthy for real.
The foremost thing to do is to switch to lean meat. Lean steak, fish, sea food, chicken without skin, etc., can be included in your salad.
Avoid deep-fried items like fried chicken, fried bread crumbs, fried potatoes, breaded chicken, etc., in the salad. Instead, go for roasted or grilled items.
As dressings have high sodium content, it is better to opt for unseasoned chicken or seafood. If you are ordering it in a restaurant you can ask for the dressing separately, and can add it according to your requirement.
Try to go for a low calorie dressing that includes low-fat, plain yogurt, low-sodium soy sauce, etc. Do not use the entire dressing; half of it is more than enough.
Order dark green lettuce, as it has a high content of vitamins and minerals. Order for plenty of fresh vegetables in your salad, like spinach, carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, etc.
Add beans, nuts, and other seeds which are filling and will provide you with extra protein and fiber.
If you are selecting a salad from the menu, then read the nutrition information provided, and then order accordingly.
Choose small-sized meal and eat slowly. You will not only eat less, but it would also save you from consuming extra calories.
Limit your consumption of cheese, mayonnaise, and other sauces.
People who think that salad is smaller than a meal and hence, order a large portion, should keep in mind the ingredients they have to avoid. Keep a check on the items and calculate the calories, if you are really looking for a healthy meal. Eating a high-calorie, fast food salad once in a while is absolutely fine, but do not make it a habit. You can also ask your nutritionist to give you a list of healthy food items that you can include in your salad.