When most people think of fast food, they aren't exactly focused on health benefits. But over the last few years, several chains that are known for diet-busting cheeseburgers have introduced some better-for-you alternatives. The latest restaurant to get on the bandwagon? Burger King. But are their new menu items really healthier?
Burger King's new salad and smoothie menu options may be an attempt to emulate McDonald's successful move into more healthful fare, according to a recent AP story:
[T]here are unmistakable similarities between Burger King's new lineup and the offerings its much-bigger rival McDonald's has rolled out in recent years. The Golden Arches already rolled out specialty salads in 2003, snack wraps in 2006, premium coffee drinks in 2009, and fruit smoothies in 2010.
While many of McD's latest products seemed healthier upon first perusal, as we later learned, they were anything but. McDonald's Fruit & Nut Oatmeal, for example, was revealed to have more sugar than a Snickers bar.
So how did Burger King do? We decided to compare the nutrition information from their new offerings to the traditional fare they're known for:
Garden Fresh Salad Chicken Caesar with grilled chicken and dressing has 490 calories and 28 grams of fat. That's roughly the same as a 10 piece order of Chicken Tenders, which have about 450 calories and 28 grams of fat. And while fresh lettuce and other veggies will always be healthier than breaded meat -- rendering the salad the defacto healthier option -- 28 grams of fat is more than <em>anyone</em>, let alone someone on a specialized diet, should consume in a single meal. The <a href="http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-PolicyDocument.htm" target="_hplink">2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans</a> recommends that adults get 20 to 35 percent of their daily calories from fat -- or about 44 to 70 grams a day.
What a difference a grill makes. If the Garden Fresh Salad Chicken Caesar is prepared with crispy chicken instead of grilled (and dressing), it shoots up to 670 calories and 43 grams of fat -- about the same as a BK Triple Stacker, which contains three beef patties, three slices of bacon and American cheese. The sandwich has a near-identical 670 calories and 44 grams of fat.
Garden Fresh Salad Chicken BLT with grilled chicken and dressing has 510 calories and 33 grams of fat -- about the same as a Double Bacon Cheeseburger, which clocks in at 520 and 31 grams of fat.
Garden Fresh Salad Chicken BLT with fried chicken and dressing has 690 calories, 48 grams of fat. Similarly, the Double Croissan'wich, made up of sausage, egg and cheese, has 660 calories and 48 grams of fat.
The Chicken Apple & Cranberry Garden Fresh Salad with grilled chicken and dressing has 520 calories and 26 grams of fat. But those in the market for an over-500 calorie lunch could just as easily indulge in the Italian Original Chicken Sandwich, which also has 520 calories and 22 grams of fat.
The Garden Fresh Salad Chicken Apple & Cranberry, when with crispy chicken and dressing shoots up to 700 calories and 41 grams of fat. That's nearly identical to the Club Original Chicken Sandwich at 700 calories and 44 grams of fat.
A 16 ounce Strawberry Banana Smoothie will set you back 310 calories and 60 grams of sugar. That's a bit better than the OREO Sundae (440, 57 grams), but not much.
The Doctors reveal that fast food restaurants don't offer whole grains.