Salads are healthy, right? Well, if it's McDonald's Keep Calm, Caesar On kale salad, that answer might actually be no.
The new McDonald's salad, which is made with baby kale, bacon, Parmesan, garlic croutons and crispy chicken comes in at 520 calories, 1,140 mg of sodium and 31 g of fat without dressing. Add on the Asiago Caesar Pure Kraft Dressing and those numbers go up to a whopping 730 calories, 1,400 mg of sodium and 45 g of fat — more than a Double Big Mac and just 10 calories shy of a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese!
And while keeping an eye on calories is always a good idea, the real concern with consuming fast food is high sodium intake.
The World Health Organization recommends consuming two grams of sodium daily with a limit of 2.3 g, although experts say the human body only requires 500 mg of sodium per day to function normally.
The salads aren't the only salty items on McDonald's menu. Last month the company made headlines for the salt content of their Canadian French fries, which have a 35 per cent increase in sodium compared to the French fries in the United States.
If you're in search of healthier options at McDonald's, check out the slideshow below for suggestions from some Canadian registered dietitians.
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.