Fast Food Salad Review

The Physicians Committee

Download this fact sheetDoctors Rate New Salad Entrées Hyped by Chains


McDonald’s Chicken “Salad” Packed with More Fat and Calories Than a Big Mac

Offering a salad entrée is the latest marketing push for fast-food and quick-serve chains, but according to a new analysis by the nutrition experts at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), many fast-food salads are not any more healthful than a greasy burger. For example, McDonald’s Crispy Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad with dressing has a hefty 51 grams of fat and 660 calories while a Big Mac has 34 grams of fat and 590 calories. Surprisingly, this salad entrée also has just as much cholesterol, 85 milligrams, as the Big Mac.

All six of McDonald’s entrée salads are packed with fat and cholesterol, mainly from chicken and cheese, earning them all the lowest rating of one star. Other artery-clogging salads include Wendy’s Chicken BLT and Subway’s Meatball Salad. Two salads out of the 34 rated by PCRM earned five stars: Au Bon Pain’s Garden Salad and Subway’s Veggie Delite.

“We did not expect these new salad entrées to be so loaded with fat and cholesterol,” says Brie Turner-McGrievy, M.S., R.D., the clinical research coordinator at PCRM. “Americans thinking about getting in shape and heading to the beach this summer should steer clear of the heavily hyped ‘salads’ that are smothered with chicken, cheese and other fatty foods. Real salads with plenty of fresh veggies and chickpeas or beans for protein are best for heart health and slimming.”

The two top-rated salads earned five stars for meeting all of the criteria for healthfulness:

  • One star for ≤ 13 g fat
  • One star for ≤ 4.5 g saturated fat
  • One star for ≤ 50 mg of cholesterol
  • One star for ≥ 3 g of fiber
  • One star for ≤ 1,000 mg of sodium

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