Salads sound like they should be a healthy alternative to some of the calorie-, fat-, and salt-packed options you find at typical fast food and restaurant chains.
However, sometimes, they can be just as bad or worse for your health than burgers like the ubiquitous Big Mac.
Check out which popular salads are worse for you than McDonalds’ notoriously unhealthy burger, and think about avoiding these so-called “healthy” options next time you pick up a quick meal.
Our Benchmark: The Big Mac
The following salads will be compared to McDonalds’ Big Mac. One of these burgers contains 550 calories, 29g of fat, and 970mg of sodium.
1. The Chicken BLT Garden Fresh Salad at Burger King
On the fat and calorie front, this salad is only slightly worse for you than a Big Mac. With 550 calories, the Chicken BLT Garden Fresh Salad is dead even with a Big Mac, but the 37g of fat tips it solidly into the “worse than” category. Tack on 1640mg of sodium, and a Big Mac becomes the clear winner.
2. The Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad at Olive Garden
Because it features grilled chicken instead of fried, Olive Garden’s Caesar salad isn’t quite as bad for you as some competitors’ versions. That said, one serving still contains 610 calories, 40 grams of fat, and 1230mg of sodium, thanks to a creamy dressing, cheese, and croutons.
3. The Baja Chili Salad at Wendy’s
The Southwest-inspired Baja Chili Salad packs 47 grams of fat and 730 calories into each serving, likely due to a large helping of fried tortilla chips hidden under a mountain of chili, cheese, and a creamy dressing.
4. The Beef Fiesta Taco Salad at Taco Bell
With 780 calories, 42 grams of fat, and 1380mg of sodium, this beefy, cheese-laden salad is most certainly not the healthiest thing you can choose on the Taco Bell menu. Even the slightly more health-conscious chicken version of this salad will only save you 50 calories and 7 grams of fat.
5. The Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad at T.G.I. Friday’s
T.G.I. Friday’s Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad contains 1080 calories, 71g fat, and a whopping 1650mg sodium per dish. Although it avoids the common creamy dressing pitfall with a fairly light balsamic vinaigrette, this salad contains one of the restaurant industry’s biggest non-healthy salad culprits: fried chicken.
6. The Grilled Chicken Tostada Salad at Cheesecake Factory
Unfortunately, grilled chicken does not always equal healthy. Cheesecake Factory’s Grilled Chicken Tostada Salad contains 1130 calories and almost a full day’s worth of sodium with 2150mg.
Although the restaurant doesn’t list total amounts of fat on their nutritional data website, this salad contains at least 15 grams of saturated fat alone.
7. The Oriental Chicken Salad at Applebee’s
While you might think that a sit-down restaurant would offer healthier salads than the drive-thru, you’d be sadly mistaken. Applebee’s takes the cake for one of the absolutely unhealthiest salads you can possibly get at a restaurant. One Oriental Chicken Salad will provide you with 98 grams of fat and 1390 calories, not to mention 1600mg sodium.
What do you eat when you go out for fast food or to restaurants? Have you eaten any of these salads thinking it was a “healthy” option?