Known internationally for their burgers and fries, McDonald's is now trying to tap into the health food market with kale wraps and garden salads.
But are the new changes enough to win over dietitians?
"Honestly. it has been about 10 years since I have visited McDonald's," registered dietitian Shauna Lindzon tells the Huffington Post Canada. "When I look at the current menu, unfortunately not a lot has changed. The majority of the options are still high in fat, sodium and low in fibre."
McDonald's is doing one thing right when it comes to nutrition, though. Their website makes it easy to find out the nutritional facts on all of the items on their menu, a feature dietitian and owner of Dietetic Directions, Andrea D'Ambrosio, says could still use some upgrades. "My recommendations for improvement of this tool would be to add dietary filters for low sodium and high fibre options."
We asked dietitians across the country to take a look at the McDonald's menu to determine which foods we can indulge in without eating a day's worth of calories in a meal. And while some items seem a little on the small side, Toronto-based dietitian Christy Brissette says to watch out for the labels — calling something a snack doesn't make it so.
"A chicken sandwich isn't a snack — it's a meal! The name makes it sound like you should be having two or three of these. Would you eat two or three sandwiches in 1 sitting?"
In our series The Dietitian Dish, we ask Canadian dietitians what they would recommend as breakfast, lunch or dinner options at specific fast food and chain restaurants in the country. Please note, none of the dietitians below are associated with the restaurants we choose, and the restaurants are not paying us to dissect their food. Which restaurant would you like to see us tackle next? Shoot us an email at CanadaLiving@huffingtonpost.com or let us know in the comments below
Calories: 280 Total Fat: 12 grams Sodium: 770 milligrams Sugar: 3 grams Protein: 27 grams Expert: Lalitha Taylor, registered dietitian and owner of Taylor Nutrition Consulting in Edmonton, AL. "This particular salad has the least amount of sodium and fat in comparison to all other McDonald’s salads. Furthermore, this salad is a rich source of lean protein (27 grams), vitamin A (35%), C (70%) and iron (20%)."
Calories: 240 Total Fat: 8 grams Sodium: 510 milligrams Sugar: 7 grams Protein: 11 grams Expert: Andrea D’Ambrosio, registered dietitian and owner of Dietetic Directions in Waterloo, ON. "This plain and simple option has less than half the calories of a Big Mac (240 kcal), less than a third of the fat (8g) of a Big Mac as well as half the sodium (510mg)."
*Calories: 290 Total Fat: 11 grams Sodium: 720 milligrams Sugar: 7 grams Protein: 14 grams Expert: Melissa Baker, registered dietitian in Vancouver, BC. "I can’t go to McDonald's without getting a burger and fries. But I chose mini fries, and a simple cheeseburger which is only 290 calories compared to the Double Big Mac sandwich at 680 calories! Adding an apple and garden salad pump up the nutrient density of this meal." *Nutrition information for cheeseburger only
*Calories: 530 Total Fat: 24 grams Sodium: 1250 milligrams Sugar: 13 grams Protein: 23 grams Expert: Shauna Lindzon, a registered dietitian in Toronto. "The Sweet Chili Signature McWrap with Grilled Chicken had what I was looking for. It is made with a whole wheat wrap, and has double the protein of the Mediterranean McWrap and half of the fat. This would therefore be my choice if I were ever to visit McDonald's."
*Calories: 290 Total Fat: 13 grams Sodium: 640 milligrams Sugar: 2 grams Protein: 14 grams Expert: Vanessa Yurchesyn, registered dietitian in Saint John, NB. "There are many items on this menu that are high in fat and sodium (including the Signature wraps and salads). I've chosen these three items that will provide a balanced meal." *Nutrition for snack wrap only
*Calories: 40 Total Fat: 2 grams Sodium: 70 milligrams Sugar: 1 gram Protein: 3 grams Expert: Christy Brissette, registered dietitian at 80 Twenty Nutrition in Toronto, ON. "They've finally moved beyond iceberg lettuce and added a little bit of baby kale. Finally, something green other than pickles!" *Nutrition for side salad only
*Calories: 200 Total Fat: 2 grams Sodium: 100 milligrams Sugar: 28 grams Protein: 6 grams Expert: Nicole Osinga, registered dietitian at Clarington Physiotherapy Health and Wellness Centre in Courtice, ON. "Ditch the sugary granola and add some almonds to the parfait. [Then] ask for a side of peanut butter to dip the apples in. These modifications decrease to sugar content and increase the protein and healthy fat content of your meal!" *Nutrition for McDonald's parfait only.