Fast Food Salads High in Fat

The New "Salads": The Latest in Fast Fraud

Rating the New Fast-Food and Quick-Serve Salad Entrees

The latest marketing trend in the fast food industry is the salad entree, promoted as a "healthy" alternative to fatty burgers and fries. But how healthy are these salads?

To see how they stack up nutritionally, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) analyzed them based on five dietary measures. One star was given for meeting each of the following criteria, with five stars signifying the highest rating.

Each salad was rated using two ounces of the dressing that it is served with or, if no dressing is recommended, the lowest-fat dressing on the menu.

PCRM rated the salad entrees offered at Au Bon Pain, Burger King, McDonald's, Panera, Subway, Taco Bell and Wendy's.

Additionally, PCRM reviewed the amount of calories in each salad. Although calorie content was not one of the five formal criteria, nutritionists highlighted those salads with particularly high calorie content in the written descriptions below.

The report's results were quite surprising. Only two out of 34 salads received all five stars. Most of the salads were no more healthful than a burger without the bun, dipped in salad dressing. And clear patterns emerged. Salads that relied on fresh vegetables received top billing whereas salads heavy with meat, cheese, or dressing fell flat.

Most shocking of all, McDonald's Crispy Bacon Ranch Salad has more fat and calories and just as much cholesterol as a Big Mac.

Unfortunately, very few salads relied on beans (chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans) as a healthy source of protein. A popular item on salad bars, beans would have significantly boosted fiber. If restaurants would replace high-fat toppings, such as chicken and cheese, with cholesterol-free, high-fiber legumes, many more salads would receive five stars.

Fast-Food and Quick-Serve Salad Entrees

Au Bon Pain

Salad Fat (g) Saturated Fat (g) Cholesterol (mg) Fiber (g) Sodium (mg) Number of stars
Caesar Salad 12
6 30
4
450
4 Stars
Charbroiled Salmon Filet & Yellow Peppers Salad 7
1
50
2 215
4 Stars
Chef's Salad 15 7 65 3
1370 1 Star
Chicken Caesar Salad 14 7 70 4
800
2 Stars
Cobb Salad 22 10 220 8
1640 1 Star
Garden Salad 4
1
0
5
480
5 Stars
Mediterranean Chicken Salad 12
3
50
3
1090 4 Stars
Mozzarella & Red Pepper Salad 25 16 90 2 460
1 Star
Nicoise Salad 16 3
245 4
1030 2 Stars
Thai Chicken Salad 8
.05
45
4
1460 4 Stars
Tomato & Mozzarella with Basil Pesto 19 11 60 3
260
2 Stars
Tuna Salad 25 4
10
6
960
4 Stars


Burger King

Salad Fat (g) Saturated Fat (g) Cholesterol (mg) Fiber (g) Sodium (mg) Number of stars
Chicken Caesar Salad with Creamy Caesar Dressing, Croutons, and Parmesan Cheese 27 7 70 3
1850 1 Star


McDonald's

Salad Fat (g) Saturated Fat (g) Cholesterol (mg) Fiber (g) Sodium (mg) Number of stars
Crispy Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad with Newman's Own Ranch Dressing 51 11.5 85 3
1570 1 Star
Crispy Chicken Caesar Salad with Newman's Own Creamy Caesar Dressing and Croutons 35.5 8 70 3
1530 1 Star
Crispy Chicken California Cobb Salad with Newman's Own Cobb Dressing 32 8.5 135 3
1610 1 Star
Grilled Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad with Newman's Own Ranch Dressing 43 9.5 95 3
1360 1 Star
Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad with Newman's Own Creamy Caesar Dressing and Croutons 56.5 7 80 3
1320 1 Star
Grilled Chicken California Cobb Salad with Newman's Own Cobb Salad 23 7.5 140 3
1400 1 Star


Panera

Salad Fat (g) Saturated Fat (g) Cholesterol (mg) Fiber (g) Sodium (mg) Number of stars
Asian Sesame Chicken Salad 15 4*
60 4
1070 2 Stars
Caesar Salad 26 7.2* 110 3
1130 1 Star
Classic Cafe Salad 36 2.7*
0 4
340
4 Stars
Fandango Salad 28 5.3* 25
7
410
3 Stars
Greek Salad 45 16* 10
5
1850 2 Stars
Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad 27 7.3* 170 3
1620 1 Star
* The data for these values were either incorrect on the restaurant's Web site, or were not available. Therefore we calculated the values by using the nutrient analysis program Nutritionist V.

Subway

Salad Fat (g) Saturated Fat (g) Cholesterol (mg) Fiber (g) Sodium (mg) Number of stars
Meatball Salad with Fat-Free Italian Dressing 20 9 55 4
1660 1 Star
Subway Club Salad with Fat-Free Italian Dressing 3.5
1.5
35
3
1720 4 Stars
Veggie Delite Salad with Fat-Free Italian Dressing 1
0
0
3
920
5 Stars


Taco Bell

Salad Fat (g) Saturated Fat (g) Cholesterol (mg) Fiber (g) Sodium (mg) Number of stars
Taco Salad with Salsa 51 14 60 13
1760 1 Star
Taco Salad with Salsa (without shell) 21 10 60 13
1500 1 Star


Wendy's

Salad Fat (g) Saturated Fat (g) Cholesterol (mg) Fiber (g) Sodium (mg) Number of stars
Chicken BLT Salad with Homestyle Garlic Croutons and Honey Mustard Dressing 47.5 12.5 85 4
1630 1 Star
Mandarin Chicken Salad with Roasted Almost, Crispy Rice Noodles, and Oriental Sesame Dressing 36.5 4.5
59.5*
5
1520 2 Stars
Spring Mix Salad with Honey-Roasted Pecans and House Vinaigrette Dressing 44 10 30
7
1125 2 Stars
Taco Supremo Salad with Taco Chips, Sour Cream, and Salsa 34 15.5 80 10
1695 1 Star