10 Fast Food Favorites Made "Healthy"

Everyone knows fast food isn't good for you. But what if there were ways to eliminate some of the fat and calories from your favorite cheeseburger? Do you really have to go cold turkey from the drive-thru, or are there ways, with a few concessions, to make eating that Whopper or Big Mac, if not healthy, perhaps a little less damaging to the waistline. By identifying ingredients that contribute the most calories to iconic fast foods, it's theoretically possible to single them out, and order low-calorie (or at least, lower-calorie) versions of your most favorite guilty pleasures.

To do this, you have to look closely at your food. Really closely. You have to examine the nutritional information nested on fast food websites and read ingredient lists that contain things, you might argue successfully, no human should ever eat. You start to learn things you might not want to know. And indeed, researching how to make 10 fast food favorites more healthy raised some troublesome questions.

For instance, the beef patty alone at McDonald's has an ingredient list the length of a paragraph, containing words that are largely unrecognizable to most anyone. Take for example: citric acid, maltodextrin, dextrose, autolyzed yeast extract, spice extractive, and calcium silicate. It would be difficult to analyze and break down these ingredients without a team of scientists by your side. So before we even begin counting calories, it's worth pausing for a second to consider the simple assumption that food should be recognizable as food. After all, any conversation about health would be incomplete without some consideration of its origins.

These qualms aside, this list of 10 fast food favorites deconstructs everything from the Big Mac to the KFC chicken wing to discover how to cut the most calories during your next fast food excursion. Many national fast food chains make nutrition information accessible on their websites, and some, such as McDonald's, have even made promises to increase the health value of their menus in the future. Until that happens, here are some suggestions for enjoying that burger and fries with a little less guilt.

Click here for 10 Fast-Food Favorites Made "Healthy" Slideshow.