FOOD & DRINK
07/11/2017 09:15 am ET

The Best And Worst Salads You Can Order At Chain Restaurants

Ordering a salad doesn't always mean you made a healthy choice.

If you’re the type of person who goes to a fast food (or fast casual) restaurant and orders a salad, we’re willing to bet it’s because you care about eating a healthy meal. You know you should be eating a certain amount of vegetables a day, and that salads will help you do that.

But just how nutritious are salads at these restaurants? Here’s the thing: it varies, by a lot. Some salads can make for healthy meal, while others can pack more calories, fat and sodium than a Big Mac.

We rounded up the updated nutritional information on popular salads you can find at McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell ― yep, they make a salad ― and Panera. The findings were somewhat surprising: while we weren’t shocked to learn that a taco salad served in a fried shell is probably the least healthy salad choice out there, we were surprised to learn that you really can get a healthy salad option at some of the other chains.

Check it out ― in order from most caloric to least caloric ― and eat smarter:

  • <strong>Ingredients:</strong>&nbsp;seasoned beef, seasoned rice, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, reduced fat sour cream, red strip
    Taco Bell
    Ingredients: seasoned beef, seasoned rice, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, reduced fat sour cream, red strips (crunchy tortilla), beans and fire roasted salsa.

    Nutritional information:
    760 calories
    39g fat
    1,320mg sodium
    27g protein
  • <strong>Ingredients:</strong>&nbsp;green romaine, green leaf and radicchio lettuce, crispy&nbsp;chicken, thick-cut smoked bac
    Burger King
    Ingredients: green romaine, green leaf and radicchio lettuce, crispy chicken, thick-cut smoked bacon pieces, shredded cheddar cheese, tomatoes, buttery garlic croutons and dressing. 

    Nutritional information:
    710 calories
    50g fat
    1,800mg sodium
    32g protein
  • <strong>Ingredients:</strong>&nbsp;buttermilk crispy chicken, chopped romaine, spinach, kale, red leaf lettuce, carrots, chee
    McDonalds
    Ingredients: buttermilk crispy chicken, chopped romaine, spinach, kale, red leaf lettuce, carrots, cheese, bacon, tomatoes and Newman's Own Ranch dressing.

    Nutritional information:
    690 calories 
    44g fat
    1,120mg sodium
    35g protein
  • <strong>Ingredients:</strong> mix of greens -- green romaine, green leaf and radicchio lettuce -- tomatoes, shredded cheese,
    Burger King
    Ingredients: mix of greens -- green romaine, green leaf and radicchio lettuce -- tomatoes, shredded cheese, buttery garlic croutons, grilled chicken and ranch dressing.

    Nutritional information:
    600 calories
    43g fat
    2010mg sodium
    40g protein
  • <strong>Ingredients:</strong>&nbsp;red and green apples, crumbled blue cheese, sweet cranberries, roasted pecans, warm grille
    Wendys
    Ingredients: red and green apples, crumbled blue cheese, sweet cranberries, roasted pecans, warm grilled chicken and Marzetti Simply Dressed Pomegranate Vinaigrette.

    Nutritional information: 
    560 calories
    24g fat
    1,020mg sodium
    38g protein
  • <strong>Ingredients:</strong> romaine, kale, arugula-radicchio blend, citrus and pepper chicken, avocado, tomatoes, hard-boil
    Panera
    Ingredients: romaine, kale, arugula-radicchio blend, citrus and pepper chicken, avocado, tomatoes, hard-boiled egg, green goddess dressing with whole milk Greek yogurt, pickled red onions and applewood smoked bacon pieces.

    Nutritional information:
    550 calories
    33g fat
    720mg sodium
    36g protein
  • <strong>Ingredients:</strong> romaine lettuce, quinoa sofrito tomato blend, Greek dressing, kale, cucumber, feta cheese, almo
    Panera
    Ingredients: romaine lettuce, quinoa sofrito tomato blend, Greek dressing, kale, cucumber, feta cheese, almonds, kalamata olives. 

    Nutritional information:
    530 calories
    41g fat
    870mg sodium
    11g protein
  • <strong>Ingredients:</strong>&nbsp;mango, strawberries, honey-roasted sunflower seeds, grilled chicken breast, feta cheese an
    Wendys
    Ingredients: mango, strawberries, honey-roasted sunflower seeds, grilled chicken breast, feta cheese and honey citrus vinaigrette dressing.

    Nutritional information: 
    470 calories
    19g fat
    1,140mg sodium
    39g protein
  • <strong>Ingredients:</strong> grilled chicken, salad blend of&nbsp;assorted greens, corn, black beans, tomato, poblano, jack&
    McDonalds
    Ingredients: grilled chicken, salad blend of assorted greens, corn, black beans, tomato, poblano, jack cheese, tortilla strips and Newman's Own Southwest dressing.

    Nutritional information:
    470 calories
    19g fat
    1,020mg sodium
    37g protein
  • <strong>Ingredients:</strong>&nbsp;Romaine lettuce, citrus and pepper chicken, Asian sesame vinaigrette dressing, crispy wont
    Panera
    Ingredients: Romaine lettuce, citrus and pepper chicken, Asian sesame vinaigrette dressing, crispy wonton strips, almonds, sesame seeds and cilantro.

    Nutritional information: 
    410 calories
    20g fat
    540mg sodium
    25g protein
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