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Salad Shocker

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We’ve talked before about how salads purchased in restaurants or at the drive through are rarely what they appear to be, but I was shocked when I saw the cold, hard numbers. In the latest Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine review of fast-food and sandwich chain salads, only TWO out of 34 sampled salads checked out and received full marks on a five-star nutritional scale for fiber content and low saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and calorie levels.

Some dishes, like McDonald’s Crispy Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad, pack an even nastier nutritional punch. This salad actually has more fat and calories than a Big Mac. In fact, the results were so stark that researchers explained that consuming many of the salad offerings at fast food chains is equivalent to eating a burger without the bun, dipped in fatty salad dressing.

HALF of the salads in the study were given a 1-star “Unacceptable” ranking. Some of the reasons they received this rating were for massive fat quantities (many were in the 30-40 gram range, with a few offerings topping the 50 gram mark) as well as absurd saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol levels. The PCRM lamented the fact that the salads relied on cheap, high-calorie, high-sodium toppers such as cheese and meat instead of protein-rich, nutritious beans or healthful vegetables.

Some salads were salvage-able – that is to say, you can still order them, with modifications. For example, try one of Wendy’s salads without the calorie-dense, carb-laden crispy noodles, and substitute fat-free dressing instead of the loaded dressing that comes with the salad. Avoid cheese and meat-topped salads, like Subway’s Meatball monstrosity. The report also listed salads that are simply to be avoided at all costs, such as the previously-mentioned Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad or Taco Bell’s Taco Salad, which packs upwards of 800 calories. So before you opt for a salad next time you’re at a fast-food place, check the nutritional guide before you make any decisions. You could be buying something that’s actually worse than the more obvious culprits on the menu!

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