Fast-food restaurants aren’t known for being healthy. Fortunately, some of them are mending their ways by adding more health-friendly options to the menu including such options as oatmeal, yogurt, and salads. Some healthy eaters order a fast-food salad instead of a burger in hopes of avoiding the pitfalls of drive-thru dining – but are fast-food salads healthy?
Are Fast-Food Salads Healthy?
The word “salad” conjures up healthful images of green leafy veggies tossed with vitamin-rich tomatoes, carrots, and red cabbage – to add color. There’s little doubt that these vegetables are a rich source of nutrients and antioxidants. But not many fast-food restaurants leave it at that. Instead, they sprinkle those greens with buttery-flavored croutons, fried chicken strips and generous helpings of full-fat cheese – and then top it off with a creamy dressing. By the time they finish, you could have saved yourself calories by ordering a burger and a greasy order of fries.
For example, Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Caesar Salad has almost 750 calories – not to mention 49 grams of fat, while a quarter pound single has 550 calories. With romaine lettuce and tomatoes as the only vegetables in the salad, you’re not getting a significant number of antioxidants – and by the time these pre-prepared salads rest on shelves for a while, much of their nutritional value is lost. Not to mention, the vegetables aren’t grown organically and are sprayed with pesticides.
How to Avoid Being a Fast-Food Salad Junkie
A salad can be a healthy and nutritious lunch, but ordering a fast-food salad could do you more harm than good. If you’re on the go and need a salad, head for a grocery store that has a salad bar where you can make your own – and avoid the high-fat croutons and fried chicken strips.
Whole Foods Market has an organic salad bar with a large selection of brightly colored veggies you can use to make your own healthy salad creation. Other grocery stores also offer salad bars, although they may not be organic.
If there’s a Ruby Tuesday nearby, they have a salad bar – and you can get it to go. Bring along your own dressing since they have the standard, high-calorie ones.
Another alternative is to buy already-bagged organic salad mixes at the grocery store and make a salad-to-go to take to work the next day.
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