Fast Food Salads High in Fat
The New "Salads": The Latest in Fast Fraud
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.
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