Try as it might, McDonald’s still doesn’t have much of a reputation for being a healthy place to visit for lunch. And honestly, as long as burgers, fries, and shakes remain a focal point of its menu, it probably never will. But once you look past the obviously unhealthy menu items, there are actually plenty of opportunities to eat right at McDonald’s, and we’ve identified the 12 healthiest items on its menu.
So what exactly makes something “healthy”? While we could have easily just picked out the lowest-calorie items on the menu, being low in calories doesn’t automatically make something healthy. A small McDonald’s cheeseburger, for example, only contains 290 calories, but we’re not going to argue that it’s good for you.
In that vein, we’re not including burgers or anything fried in our ranking (including French fries and fried chicken), because even though they might be lower in calories than some other menu items, fast food burgers and fried foods lack real nutritional value. All of these menu items aren’t just low(ish) in calories, they also offer some actual nutrition. These menu items aren’t just ranked by calorie count; fat, sodium, saturated fat, and vegetable content were also taken into account. These are also all items that can be considered meals (some admittedly light ones); we didn’t include apple slices, for example.
A couple quick notes: Most of the sandwiches contain cheese, so asking for it to be made without that (or creamy sauce) will lower the calorie count. Sandwiches with bacon can also (obviously) be made healthier by taking the bacon off. The salads are also listed without dressing; we suggest you order it with the healthiest salad dressing on offer, Newman’s Own Low Fat Balsamic Vinaigrette; it’ll add 290 calories, 11 grams of fat, and 680 grams of sodium. You can customize your own meal on McDonald’s nifty Nutrition Calculator, and find the healthiest McDonald’s menu items here.