Fast food gained its popularity because it's inexpensive, convenient and tastes good. However, increasing rates in obesity, diabetes and heart disease have led many quick serve establishments to provide healthy alternatives for their more health-conscious consumers. McDonald's has been a leader in offering its customers a number of healthy food options.
Healthy Breakfast Options
McDonald's offers several healthy breakfast choices. The Egg McMuffin with 300 calories, 12 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat and 820 mg sodium is a great biscuit alternative. You can also choose a plain English Muffin with jam or preserves, which has 195 calories, 3 g fat, .5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat and 280 mg sodium. The new Fruit & Maple Oatmeal with 290 calories, 4.5 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat and 5 g of fiber is a great source of fiber and can be made without the brown sugar, which reduces the total calorie content to 260.
Healthy Sandwiches and Salads
At McDonald's, you can choose the typical American meal of a burger and fries, but there are also many healthy alternatives. The Grilled Chicken Ranch Snack Wrap with 270 calories, 10 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 832 mg sodium, 26 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber and 18 g protein is a great source of protein. In addition, the Premium Southwest Salad with grilled chicken with 320 calories, 9 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat and 960 mg sodium provides a low calorie, high protein, high fiber meal. The addition of low-fat salad dressing increases the total calorie content to 370 and the sodium content to 1690 mg.
Healthy Sides and Desserts
McDonald's fries are famous, but the company also offers many healthy sides. The Premium Southwest Salad can be made without the grilled chicken. Add the low-fat dressing and you have a great fry alternative with 180 calories, 7.5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat and 880 mg sodium. The Fruit 'n Yogurt Parfait with 160 calories, 2 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat and 85 mg sodium. On those hot summer days, you can have a Fresh Fruit Smoothie, which has 210 calories, 0.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat and 35 mg sodium.
Healthy Beverages and Kid Choices
Healthy beverage options are available as well. Instead of soda, pick the 1 percent low fat Milk Jug, which has 100 calories, 2.5 g fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat and 125 mg sodium. The Chocolate Milk Jug adds 70 calories. McDonald's also offers bottled water and Minute Maid orange juice, which has 150 calories. Kids have many healthy choices at McDonald's too. An order of the Apple Dippers with low fat caramel sauce has 100 calories, 0.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat and 35 mg sodium; it provides a full serving of fruit. In addition, kids can choose the Milk Jug, Chocolate Milk Jug, Apple Juice box or water instead of soda. Both the Kiddie Ice Cream Cone with 45 calories, 1 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat and 20 g sodium and the Fruit 'n Yogurt Parfait are healthy dessert options.
Making healthy choices requires planning and McDonald's recognizes the importance of nutritional information. The company offers nutrition facts information for all the available items in several different formats. In the store, all product packaging and tray liners contain the nutrition facts information. The most complete information can be found on their website. The company goes a step further with the "Bag a McMeal" option, an online tool that allows you to enter your specific meal information to determine the complete nutrition facts including total calories and fat.