Posted on: February 24, 2017 at 3:20 pm
Last updated: September 22, 2017 at 12:46 pm

In this day and age, it is pointless to try and argue that McDonald’s is a healthy and nutritious meal choice. Though at one point in time, you could catch Bill Clinton on his weekly jogs finishing his route at McDonald’s for a high-calorie meal.[1]

When influential figures like Clinton seem to glorify unhealthy foods it can send a confusing message that bad fast food is “O.K.” Never mind the fact that it is convenient when you’re pressed for time. But what about when McDonald’s advises their own ~700,000 employees against eating their own product?[2] If that isn’t enough to make you go elsewhere, maybe these awesome and often inexpensive healthy fast food chains will.

How Healthy is McDonald’s Healthy Menu?

McDonald’s has made changes in recent years that do seem like a positive step forward. In one case, for example, they swapped iceberg lettuce for red leaf lettuce and carrot curls. In another, they also made the shift from margarine to butter when it came to their McMuffins, which resulted in doubling their sales.[3]

While it seems like McDonald’s acknowledges the health-consciousness as a movement and is making necessary changes, there are still some discrepancies. You probably think that opting for McDonald’s salads, fruit smoothies or wraps would make a difference. However, the numbers don’t lie.

In some cases, the seemingly healthy options are higher in calories, fats, sugars, or preservatives. Check it out:[4]

  • Medium Blueberry Pomegranate Smoothie: 260 calories and 54 grams of sugar (compared to a medium Coke: 170 calories and 42 grams of sugar)
  • Guacamole Chicken Burger: 499 calories, 24.1 grams of fat, and 2.95 grams of salt
  • Six-Pack of Chicken Nuggets: 259 calories and 13 grams of fat
  • Buttermilk Chicken Salad with Edamame and Kale: 410 calories, 22 grams of fat, 1.85 grams of salt, and 12 grams of sugar

Some experts attribute these high-calorie foods to things like the salad dressings.[4] But even though these meals are hefty, they’re full of empty calories that provide your body with little nutritional value. (If you’re interested, here is McDonald’s Nutrition Facts sheet as of February 16, 2017.)

9 Healthy Fast Food Chains

The numbers are available for you to mull over. Whether you do decide to continue to eat from major fast food chains is up to you. All we’re saying is that you’re no longer limited to places like McDonald’s or Burger King. Now you have some real delicious (and healthy) contenders to choose from.


While many of these healthy fast food chains are limited to a single or a few states, almost all of them plan to expand nationwide![5] This will enable the population to have access to healthy (or healthier) food quickly, conveniently, and inexpensively.

1. LocoL (Los Angeles, California)

The food these guys put out is still high in calories but they use high-quality, whole ingredients that they source locally.

Perks: cooked grains and tofu comprise thirty percent of all their beef patties and aguas frescas are made in-house daily instead of sodas.

2. Freshii (North America)

This fast food franchise began in Canada and soon spread to the United States. Freshii specializes in salads, wraps, and bowls.

Perks: most of its foods cost less than seven dollars and are no more than seven hundred calories.

3. Eatsa (San Francisco, Los Angeles, DC, and New York)

This automated vegetarian chain takes your order via an iPad and has a kitchen team prepare it in the back.

Perks: quinoa bowls are their specialty, cost under seven dollars, and range from four-hundred-and-fifty to seven hundred calories.

4. Veggie Grill (California, Washington, and Oregon)

This vegan chain restaurant serves “burgers” and “chicken” that are entirely made up of soy, pea, and/or wheat proteins.

Perks: prices start as low as $3.50 and Veggie Grill claims that its burger tastes better than McDonald’s Big Mac (but we’ll let you decide that one for yourselves).

5. Salad and Go (Arizona)

This is strictly a drive-thru salad chain that is trying to rival other drive-thru chains by offering faster and more convenient service.

Perks: you can get forty-eight ounce salads for about six dollars and soups, smoothies, or breakfast items for about four dollars.

6. LYFE Kitchen (California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Tennessee, and Texas)

This healthy chain doesn’t label itself as “healthy” per se. However, everything on the menu contains under six hundred calories and a thousand milligrams of sodium.


Perks: You can order most of their food for under ten dollars and LYFE Kitchen’s dishes are free of high-fructose corn syrup, butter, cream, trans fats, MSG, and preservatives.

7. Dig Inn (New York City and Boston)

This healthy chain works in partnership with local farmers which helps keep the prices relatively low and ensures fresh food.

Perks: Most dishes cost between eight and eleven dollars which are on the higher end. But ultimately, you’re paying for convenience and quality. Their menu prides itself on locally sourced vegetables and serves their meals in compostable boxes.

8. Everytable (Los Angeles)

This chain changes its prices based on the neighborhood’s average income in order to make food available and accessible to everyone.

Perks: They source their ingredients locally and make their dishes fresh every day. They keep things fast and nutritious so you can simply grab and go!

9. The Kitchenette (Memphis, Tennessee)

This healthy fast food chain is part of a larger restaurant chain called the Kitchen. The Kitchenette serves salads, soups, and sandwiches.


Perks: Most items cost $4.95 and strive to use locally sourced produce and meats as much as possible.

Wanna know more about the fast food industry?

You can check out these articles:

The Hearty Soul
Health Network
We believe in using natural ingredients to be as healthy as possible. We believe dieting will never work as well as a lifestyle of healthy habits will. We believe you can treat pain and disease without relying on addictive drugs. We believe being happy is a big part of a healthy life.

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