There are many different things that come to mind when someone hears the word “healthy.” Some may think of exercise while others may think of a healthy diet. Either way, what doesn’t tend to come to mind is fast food.
Fast food is great for so many reasons – it’s cheap, it’s quick, it’s delicious, and there’s a ton of options, including burgers, fries, and fish sandwiches. Generally speaking though, people don’t seek out fast food as a way to eat healthily.
However, healthier eating trends have picked up a lot of steam in recent years. More people are becoming aware of the dangers of certain foods and ingredients as well as how beneficial healthier eating can be. There are also many specific diets and lifestyles that are becoming more popular for how they can help you lose weight, get in shape, or whatever other goals you’re after.
As a result, fast food chains have had to change their approach a little bit in order to keep their customers happy. Not only do they want to cater to those who are changing their diets but they don’t want to lose out on entire groups coming to their restaurant just because one person wants to be healthier.
By adding healthy options to their menu, they have a better chance of that one healthy person in a group agreeing to eat there because they can get something acceptable.
While most fast food places have wised-up and added the necessary items to their menu, there are definitely some that do a better job than others. If you’re looking for a quick, yummy meal that isn’t the worst for your health, try some of these options.
Top Ten Healthy Fast Food Items
1. Chipotle Burrito Bowl
Chipotle’s Burrito Bowl is a really good choice because it’s so customizable. So, not only is it a healthier choice by default but you can pick exactly what goes in it and therefore how it’s going to taste.
First, you have your choice of freshly grilled meat, including chicken, steak, sofritas, carnitas, and carne asada. If you don’t want any meat you can choose a base of veggies instead. From there, you can add white rice, brown rice, or cauliflower rice as well as black or pinto beans. Then, you have a huge selection of toppings to add for even more flavor. These include guacamole, tomato salsa, sour cream, cheese, fajita veggies, and more.
If you want a little treat on the side, you can get some chips and dip as well as your choice of drink from their many available options including soft drinks and fruit juice.
Though Chipotle doesn’t do breakfast, and a fast food burrito would typically be considered “unhealthy” because of the high-carb tortilla, I do think that burritos typically are healthier than many other American fast food because they don’t contain all the sugar like pancakes, waffles, syrup and other sweet items.
2. Culver’s Beef Pot Roast Sandwich
Culver’s keeps it simple with this beef pot roast sandwich, filling their signature bun with a whole lot of their premium shredded chuck roast. The meat is slow-braised in a special blend of herbs and spices before being hand-shredded in the restaurant to ensure the perfect level of tender and moist while making sure it’s always fresh.
Beef is high in protein and this sandwich has a ton of beef. So, if you’re trying to tone up and build muscle, this is a great sandwich for you even though it’s fast food. Beef also contains lots of vitamins, amino acids, and iron.
3. Dunkin Donuts Wake up Wrap
Most people think of coffee and donuts when they think of Dunkin Donuts but that’s not all they do well. Their breakfast menu has plenty of options, including the wake-up wrap. This wrap features your classic combination of eggs, bacon, and cheese all wrapped up in a fresh tortilla. The sandwiches are made to order every day to ensure freshness.
The sandwiches are a good source of protein, especially to get you jump started in the morning. While it’s nothing fancy, it stands out from the rest of the menu due to its lower fat and sodium content compared to everything else. It’s a healthy, hearty breakfast that doesn’t overdo the less desirable stuff.
4. Panda Express Broccoli Beef
The Brocolli Beef entree from Panda Express is a very simple dish that’s packed with a surprising amount of nutrients, considering it’s found at a fast food joint. They toss a generous helping of broccoli and beef chunks in a tangy ginger soy sauce. The broccoli is fresh and crunchy and the beef is tender – you can’t go wrong with this quality meal.
Not only does the beef provide protein and iron but you get plenty of fiber, potassium, and vitamins from the broccoli. As vegetables go, broccoli is fairly high in protein as well, so it’s a great meal if you’re trying to increase your protein intake. It’s also fairly low in calories as fast food items go, coming in at only 150.
5. Wendy’s Apple Pecan Chicken Salad
Salads are generally considered healthy across the board, but you do have to be careful with the ones at a fast food restaurant. Often, they’re loaded with a high-calorie, high-fat dressing that’s extremely unhealthy. While this doesn’t negate the nutrients from other healthy ingredients, it defeats the purpose somewhat – if eating healthy is your goal.
Thankfully, the Apple Pecan Chicken Salad from Wendy’s is one you don’t have to worry about. The salad includes chunks of crisp red and green apples, grilled chicken, and roasted pecans. On top, you’ll find crumbled blue cheese and a simple pomegranate vinaigrette. Even the dressing is a healthier choice as pomegranates are filled with healthy antioxidants.
6. Wendy’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich
If a salad just won’t hit the spot, Wendy’s grilled chicken sandwich is a great second choice. The sandwich features a large, herb-marinated piece of grilled chicken breast with smokey honey mustard, fresh spring mix, and a thick, juicy slice of tomato.
It’s served on a warm, toasted bun. The grilled chicken automatically makes this a healthier choice as it lacks the sodium and carb-ridden breading of crispy chicken. Chicken is also among one of the leanest meats available, making it great for toning muscles and losing weight. It also contains several vitamins and minerals that contribute to healthy brain function and it promotes a healthy, high-functioning heart.
7. McDonald’s Grilled Snack Wrap
If you don’t want an entire meal but still need a snack on-the-go, Mcdonald’s chicken snack wrap is a pretty good bet – as long as you get the grilled chicken. It’s a small, simple wrap containing just the chicken, some fresh lettuce, cheese, and ranch sauce.
If you’re extra hungry, you can grab two and still have a nice snack. The wraps are quick and easy while also containing some nutrients in the chicken. If you want to be really vigilant, ask for minimal ranch sauce, or substitute it all together with something a little lighter on the sugar and sodium.
8. Jack in the Box Chicken Fajita Pita
The chicken fajita pita is a healthy fast food choice that caters to those who want a little kick in their meal. First of all, it’s served on a whole grain pita that contains 16 grams of healthy whole grains. You also get your fill of flame-grilled chicken which offers plenty of quality protein.
It’s also filled to the brim with shredded cheese, fresh iceberg lettuce, grilled onions, and tomatoes. It’s fresh, warm, and delicious on its own but you can add a side of fire-roasted salsa if you want a little something extra.
9. Starbucks Oatmeal
Oatmeal is certainly one of the healthiest breakfast options there is. Not only are oats packed with nutrients but they’re famous for filling you up. This means they’re fantastic for anyone keeping track of calories or trying to lose weight. You’ll get a super healthy, energizing start to the day and you’ll stay full for longer. It’s the perfect breakfast for anyone with a physically demanding job, or even just a long day ahead of them.
Starbucks oatmeal is a blend of rolled and steel-cut oats topped with dried fruit and a nut medley, topped with some brown sugar for a little extra sweetness. Not only do you enjoy the benefits of oatmeal, but the fruit and nuts add that much more nutritional value.
10. Chick-Fil-A’s Superfood Side
Chick-Fil-A has some great healthy options on their menu in the form of grilled chicken and some super healthy salads. Nothing is quite as nutrition-packed as their superfood side, though. Roasted nuts and dried cherries sit atop a bed of fresh broccoli and crisp kale – every single morsel of this little side salad has something good to offer.
Broccoli is a great source of fiber while kale is touted as one of the healthiest foods available. The nuts offer a little kick of protein and the cherries contain high levels of antioxidants as well as nutrients like calcium, potassium, vitamin A, and more. It’s a great snack on its own, or you can pair it with almost anything else on the menu to add some quality nutrition to your meal.