10 of the Healthiest Items at McDonald’s

6 min read

Looking for a quick snack but McDonald’s is the only food available? You can still attempt to eat on the healthier side by following these guidelines of what foods nutritionists recommend as healthy items to order at McDonald’s.

10. Salads

Source: Pexels

It should come as no surprise that salads would be on this list. After all, the salad is the epitome of healthy eating. And, as you know, you can turn something so healthy and nutritious into a diet disaster if you’re not careful. But, if you follow these tips from nutritionists, you should be okay:

Opt for the grilled chicken salad instead of the crispy chicken salad.
-Avoid any salads with words like “bacon,” “ranch,” or “crispy.” These salads have “as many calories as more traditional fast-food options,” Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN, CSO, told INSIDER.
-Make sure to have good carbs with your salad. “I like that [the Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad] has black beans and corn on it, which adds some satisfying high-fiber carbs to the meal,” Rachel Hartley, RD, LD and certified intuitive eating counselor, told INSIDER. “One mistake people often make is having a salad with just vegetables, protein, and dressing, but without carbohydrate, our body’s favorite source of fuel, that meal won’t last long.”
-Top your salad with a low-fat dressing, such as a vinaigrette.
-If you’re a vegetarian, order your salads without chicken and bacon. If you’re vegan, add cheese to that list as well.
-Those seeking a gluten-free option should skip the tortilla strips on the Southwest salad.
-You can always order a side salad to go along with your burger or chicken nuggets.

9. Grilled Chicken Sandwiches

Grilled Chicken Sandwich
Source: Wikimedia Commons

If you want to get in some lean protein (37 grams to be exact) and plenty of iron, order one of McDonald’s grilled chicken sandwiches (the crispy version adds an additional 180 calories and 14.5 grams of fat). Another way to trim down the calorie count is to hold the cheese, mayo and other unhealthy sauces. Use hot sauce, ketchup, mustard, onions and pickles instead, suggests Hultin. Some nutritionists also recommend ditching the bun, which will slash 350 milligrams of sodium and reduce the carb count from 44 grams to a mere 2 grams.

8. Egg White Delight McMuffin

Egg Mcmuffin
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Hold the Canadian bacon and the butter, and this breakfast sandwich will have only 250 calories. Plus, skipping the bacon will save you 200 milligrams of sodium. What’s more is that this sandwich has just 2 grams of sugar. And, if you decide to go with the the whole egg version, you’ll get plenty of carotenoids, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, Christine M. Palumbo, MBA, RDN, FAND, a registered dietitian and nutrition communications consultant based in Chicago, said in an article published by Eat This, Not That!

TIP: To make this sandwich even healthier, opt for the open-faced version. Or, go muffin-less!

7. Oatmeal

Source: Pixabay

For a quick morning pick-me-up that’s as delicious as it is nutritious, opt for McDonald’s Fruit and Maple Oatmeal. It’s “a good choice for a healthy morning start. Oats offer whole-grain nutrition and provide soluble fiber, which is important for heart health and weight management. Oats also provide antioxidants for good health,” Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN, nationally known nutritionist and healthy cooking expert, said in an article published by Eat This, Not That!

TIP: Ditch the cranberry-raisin blend and add diced apples instead to cut back on the amount of sugar in this breakfast dish.

6. Hamburgers

Mcdonalds Hamburger
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Did you know that hamburgers are generally healthier than chicken sandwiches? That’s especially true when the chicken is fried. According to Kristin Kirkpatrick, M.S., R.D., “chicken is very often fried in trans fats, like partially hydrogenated oils. Trans fat makes food last longer and improves its mouth feel, but it’s also so dangerous health-wise that the FDA has decided to ban it.” Plus, all that mayo slathered all over the sandwich just makes it worse. So, even if the burger you order is “loaded with cheese and the bun is made of refined flour, it’s still the better bet,” Kirkpatrick added. With that said, a plain McDonald’s hamburger has 250 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 480 milligrams of sodium.

-Since they’re a source of red meat, you should consider consuming hamburgers in moderation.
-Go easy on the condiments. They add extra sodium.

5. Chicken McNuggets

Chicken Mcnuggets
Source: Wikimedia Commons

If low-sugar is your thing, order McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets. According to an article published by CNN, they’re the “lowest-sugar option” on the menu. In fact, they have zero grams of sugar. To keep the sugar count low, opt for the spicy buffalo dipping sauce and avoid the tangy barbecue, sweet ‘n’ sour and honey mustard sauces, all of which contain a lot of sugar.

Another plus is that, due to changes in recent years, these nuggets are now made with no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Beware, however, as they are breaded and deep-fried.

Recommended pairings:

-If you’re ordering a Happy Meal for your child, opt for the apple slices, GoGurt, and low-fat (1 percent) milk jug.

4. Coffee

Source: Pixabay

Coffee is low in calories and high in antioxidants, plus it’s the perfect drink to get you going in the morning. To make sure it’s as healthy as possible, Mandy Enright, MS, RDN, RYT, creator of Nutrition Nuptials, recommends ordering unsweetened coffee and adding the milk or creamer yourself. Or, if plain is your thing, you can always drink it black.

TIP: Avoid the frappés, machiattos and other sugar-laden coffee products served up at McDonald’s. Yes, they’re delicious, but in addition to sugar, they’re also loaded with calories and fat.

3. Water

Source: Pixabay

When it comes to healthy dining, there’s no better option than good old-fashioned water. It’s the only thing that’s 100 percent calorie-free. Plus, water has so many health benefits. You can use it to detox. It relieves fatigue, promotes weight loss, aids in digestion, boosts your mood, promotes healthy skin, regulates your body temperature, and combats bad breath. Plus, it can even be used to treat headaches, including migraines. And, most importantly, you can’t live without it. So, drink up!

2. Fish Sandwich

Filet O Fish
Source: Wikimedia Commons By BrokenSphere [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

You can’t go wrong with fish, especially when it’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids like McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish sandwich, which by the way is made using pollock. Even though the tartar sauce only adds about 1.5 grams of saturated fat, removing it, and the cheese too, will make it one of the chain’s lowest-sodium sandwiches on the menu. With the sauce and cheese, it has a sodium count of 570 milligrams. Without it it’s 360 milligrams.

Recommended pairings:

Filet-O-Fish with…
-a mandarin orange
-yogurt parfait
-apple slices

1. Parfait

Source: Pixabay

If you need something to satisfy your sweet tooth, look no further than McDonald’s Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait. This delicious dessert has 150 calories and 4 grams of protein, which makes it “a good snack,” Gina Consalvo, MA, RD, LDN, Pennsylvania-based owner of Eat Well With Gina, said in an article published by Eat This, Not That! Plus, it offers a good dose of calcium, potassium, and antioxidants.

Recommended pairing:

Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait with…
-a side salad with a low-sodium dressing

-An oatmeal raisin cookie is another good choice for satisfying your sweet tooth. According to The Daily Meal, it’s “the least sugary and calorie-dense option. One cookie has 140 calories and 12 grams of sugar.”
-Steer clear of the McFlurry, which has about 630 calories and “more sugar than eight glazed donuts,” The Daily Meal says.


While the name McDonald’s isn’t synonymous with healthy eating, as you can see there are some things on the menu you can enjoy guilt free. So, why not head down to Mickey D’s now and partake of some of their delicious and nutritious eats? Thanks for reading, and bon appétit!