At the time of this writing, McDonalds sells six premium salads and one side salad option. Actually, there are only three different kinds of salads to choose from, but choosing a plain salad or one with grilled or crispy chicken gives you a total of seven salad choices. McDonalds has always gotten a bad rap for selling unhealthy food to an already obesity-ridden population, especially in the United States. In an effort to bring a few healthier choices to the proverbial table, they added salads to the menu many years ago. Different salads have come and gone since then, but the debate still remains as to whether the colorful greens are really a healthier choice to the traditional burger and fries.

Forget what you know about salads and don’t trust what you see in front of you when it comes to a McDonalds salad. Just how healthy these salads are depends on the choices you make when you order.  See also, should you eat salads for breakfast?.


McDonalds Salads at First Glance

At first glance, a McDonalds salad is most definitely a healthier choice. Plain or with grilled chicken, these salads range anywhere from 20 calories and zero grams of fat up to 290 calories and 9 grams of fat. Not too bad for a big ole’ salad from a fast food joint.

I like to call plain salads “naked salads” because they aren’t dressed – they contain no dressing of any sort, nor any other add-ins such as croutons that add carbs, calories and fat.

A Closer Look at McDonalds Salad Choices

So far, these salads sound like exactly what the doctor ordered, right? Not so fast…

If you simply ate your McDonalds salad like this, you’d be right. You could walk away from the table feeling full and proud that you made a healthy choice for lunch. However, McDonalds knows what you really like on your salad and is all too eager to make sure you get what you want. Other not-so-healthy choices are available for your salad that can jack up the calorie and fat content so high that your salad suddenly becomes one of the most unhealthy choices on the menu.

For example:

The “naked” Premium Bacon Ranch Salad only has 140 calories and 7 grams of fat. Add in grilled chicken and it’s up to 230 calories and 9 grams of fat – still not too bad. But, maybe you decide you want crispy chicken instead – that brings the count up to 390 calories and 22 grams of fat! This still doesn’t include the dressing! Dare I tell you the calorie and fat content with dressing?  Chicken is a good source of protein. It’s considered as the highly important nutrient for the body. It helps to find a sufficient balanced diet to stay well. People all around the world seek desperately the high protein chicken breast to meet their desired requirement.

I’m going to tell you anyway.

Say you choose the traditional ranch dressing, which is actually Newman’s Own Ranch Dressing, you would be adding an additional 170 calories and 15 grams of fat. That’s a whopping 560 calories and 37 grams of fat in total for just one meal. At this point, you’d be better off ordering a Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich because it only has 350 calories and 9 grams of fat.

So, the choice is really up to you when it comes to whether your McDonalds salad is a healthy choice or not. It certainly can be, if you’re so inclined.

Image: McDonald’s