The Healthiest Food to Eat at McDonald's

Eating a relatively healthy meal at McDonald's? It takes some serious discipline, but it can be done.

With over 37,000 restaurants across the globe, a McDonald's is never far. While some "health conscious" folks would never dream of dining at the Golden Arches, the truth is that every option at McDonald's isn't a nutritional nightmare—you just have to know where to look.

260 calories, 8 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 780 mg of sodium, 29 grams of carbs, 16 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber

McDonald's Egg White Delight McMuffin forgoes the sausage or bacon and mini-pancake bun you'd find on a McGriddle for a much more reasonable Canadian bacon and English muffin combo. The result is a fairly low-calorie, high-protein option.

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With over 37,000 restaurants across the globe, a McDonald's is never far. While some "health conscious" folks would never dream of dining at the Golden Arches, the truth is that every option at McDonald's isn't a nutritional nightmare—you just have to know where to look.

Healthiest Foods at McDonald's

Egg White Delight McMuffin

260 calories, 8 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 780 mg of sodium, 29 grams of carbs, 16 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber

McDonald's Egg White Delight McMuffin forgoes the sausage or bacon and mini-pancake bun you'd find on a McGriddle for a much more reasonable Canadian bacon and English muffin combo. The result is a fairly low-calorie, high-protein option.

Apple Slices

15 calories, 0 grams of total fat, 4 grams of carbs, 0 grams of protein, 0 gram of fiber, 3 grams of sugar

You can never go wrong with apples. McDonald's Apple Slices aren't enough to make a meal, but they can be a nice replacement for a side of fries.

Yoplait GO-GURT Low Fat Strawberry Yogurt

45 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 30 mg of sodium, 7 grams of carbs, 2 grams of protein, 5 grams of sugar

It's strawberry-flavored yogurt that's relatively low in sugar. You could do a whole lot worse.

Hamburger

250 calories, 8 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 480mg of sodium, 31 grams of carbs, 13 grams of protein, 1 gram of fiber

If you've got a burger craving, this is probably McDonald's healthiest option. This one is filling, relatively easy on the fat, and provides a solid balance of carbs and protein. The Cheeseburger only contains 50 more calories, making it a solid choice if you need your cheese fix. For comparison, McDonald's Double Bacon Smokehouse Burger, one of their highest-calorie burgers, contains as many calories as four-and-a-half of their Hamburgers.

Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich

380 calories, 6 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 1120 mg of sodium, 44 grams of carbs, 36 grams of protein, 2 grams fiber

Lots of protein and not-too-many calories make McDonald's Grilled Chicken Sandwich your best bet for a healthy chicken sandwich at the Golden Arches. If you absolutely must have a fried option, the McChicken is probably your safest pick, but stay the heck away from the Bacon Smokehouse Buttermilk Crispy Chicken sandwich, which boasts 920 calories.

Grilled Chicken Wrap

300 calories, 13 grams of total fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 720mg of sodium, 26 grams of carbs, 20 grams of protein, 2 grams fiber

Another great chicken option for a balance of protein and carbs, the Grilled Chicken Wrap keeps calories and sodium much lower than any other "wrap" option at Wendy's. If you got a hankering for some spice, the Spicy Chicken Wrap is a pretty solid choice, as well. The Crispy Chicken Nuggets aren't a bad choice, either, as a 4-piece comes in at just 170 calories. The key is limiting your sauce intake, as a single serving of Wendy's Barbecue Dipping Sauce contains nine grams of sugar.

Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad

350 calories, 11 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 1070mg of sodium, 27 grams of carbs, 37 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber

It doesn't have the fewest calories of any McDonald's salad, but it may be the overall healthiest thanks to a solid amount of fiber and protein and manageable amounts of fat. The sodium content is higher than you might like, but if you're forgoing fries, it's do-able. If you want the absolute lowest-calorie option, go with the Side Salad. It probably won't put much of a dent in your appetite due to its rather petite nature, but it contains just 15 calories sans dressing.

4-Piece Chicken McNuggets

180 calories, 11 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 340mg of sodium, 11 grams of carbs, 10 grams of protein, 1 grams of fiber

McNuggets? Healthy? Really? I hear you. McNuggets aren't exactly on par with a serving of vegetables, but this one's all about portion control. If you can limit yourself to just four McNuggets, it's not going to sabotage your diet. In fact, that's significantly less calories than a small order of McDonald's Fries. Just take it easy on the sauce.

Kiddie Cone

45 calories, 1 gram of fat, .5 grams of saturated fat, 20mg of sodium, 8 grams of carbs, 1 gram of protein, 0 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar

No one's going to confuse vanilla soft serve ice cream for a health food, but this is another one where portion control is the saving grace. If your sweet tooth is acting up at the drive-thru and you can't resist ordering some type of dessert, a Kiddie Cone, which is essentially just a mini ice cream cone, contains just 45 calories. Compared to the 380 calories in a Hot Caramel Sundae or the 510 calories in a regular size McFlurry with Oreo Cookies, it's a no-brainer.

Worst Foods at McDonald's

Cobbling together a decently healthy meal at McDonald's is as much about knowing what to order as it is what not to order. You want to generally steer clear of options that combine several hamburger patties or a piece of fried chicken with bacon, cheese, fatty sauces, etc. If you're looking to eat fairly healthy, you'd be wise to steer clear of these picks that rank as some of McDonald's most unhealthy choices:

  • Mushroom & Swiss Buttermilk Crispy Chicken
  • Bacon Smokehouse Buttermilk Crispy Chicken
  • All McGriddles
  • Big Breakfast with Hotcakes
  • Bacon, Egg & Cheese Bagel
  • All Biscuit Sandwiches
  • Milkshakes and McFlurries
  • Mushroom & Swiss Burgers
  • Bacon Smokehouse Burgers
  • Cookies
  • Full-Calorie Soda (even the diet varieties can have an unforeseen negative impact on your nutrition)

Photo Credit: jetcityimage/iStock

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Topics: NUTRITION | HEALTHY EATING | SPORTS NUTRITION | EATING HEALTHY | NUTRITION ADVICE