Science Proven Natural Health

David Rodgers, LN, MS
Licensed Nutritionist

Fast Food

The Best Healthy Fast Food Restaurants – Chipotle Wins

Fast Food French FriesIn the media and in real life, fast food has come to mean “unhealthy junk food.” And this idea largely has merit. After all, the nutritional value of a Big Mac, Large Fries, and Large soda, (or diet which is even worse – sign up for my free report for details), is terrible. The meal might as well be called “heart disease on a tray.” Perhaps the only thing in the entire meal that doesn’t increase heart disease risk is the beef and the lettuce (yes, unprocessed beef doesn’t cause heart disease – again see my report), but both of those are loaded with pesticides and/or hormones.

So to make a list of healthier fast food restaurants seems like an oxymoron, but it’s not. There are a few fast food restaurants that offer truly healthy meals that you can feel good about. Not only that, they are tasty as well.

Here is the list of Best Healthy Fast Food Restaurants –

1. Chipotle – This Mexican restaurant wins because they do almost everything right. Most of the meats, poultry, and dairy are hormone and antibiotic-free, a significant portion of the veggies and beans are organic, and starting recently, they offer brown rice in addition to white rice as an option. They also support local farms when possible. Chipotle’s foods are rather spicy, so they don’t appeal to all, but if you can stand the heat, it is likely that you’ll enjoy the taste. Chipotle is not available in all areas, but it is growing, especially in bigger cities and along major freeways. Other Mexican chains, such as Qdoba, Rio Wraps, Baja Fresh, etc., also offer some healthy options, however they don’t have the humane and non-chemical versions of foods as noted above. No matter which Mexican restaurant you go to, never get the salad shell/bowl because it is loaded with trans fats and is worse for you than a large fry.

2. Panera Bread
– All of Chipotle’s chicken is dark meat, and all of Panera’s chicken is white meat. Interestingly, they are the same chickens, split and sold to the two different chains. Therefore you can be happy that at Panera Bread, you also get hormone/antibiotic free chicken. Panera also has chips with sunflower oil (no processed items like chips are healthy, but if you eat them, it’s better to eat those with sunflower than canola, corn, soybean, or cottonseed oils). Panera offers a large selection of bread, of course including many whole wheat varieties. Whole wheat can sometimes be deceiving (really just white bread turned brown), but Panera’s breads are higher quality and are a true whole grain. Do note that Panera’s meals, unlike Chipotle above and Noodles and Company below, have very few vegetables.

3. Noodles and Company
– The main negative about Noodles and Company is that it is a carb heavy meal, which I generally don’t advocate. This being said, they offer whole wheat and gluten-free rice noodles at Noodles and Company which adds to the healthy factor, so once in a while you can indulge in a a few more carbs than you should . Take note that menu items list several veggies each, but you are allowed to swap veggies for your favorites at no charge. You can also specially request an egg mixed in like they do for Pad Thai.

In general, eating at home is the best and cheapest way to ensure quality, healthy foods. But, I admit that we do live in a modern society with modern conveniences like fast food, so you might as well know your healthy options, should the need for fast food arise. Just be sure to get water rather than any type of soda, because that alone would ruin the health factor of your meal.

 

 

 

Image: Keerati / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

2 Comments to “The Best Healthy Fast Food Restaurants – Chipotle Wins”

  1. Thank you, this was awesome. There is a fast food place here in Southern CA called Flame Broiler. I wonder how they rate. Brown rice, steamed veggies, and grilled chicken or steak. Isn’t all chicken and dairy hormone free by law? But is it antibiotics that hasn’t been outlawed?

    • Hi Sonya,

      I’m not too sure about Flame Broiler but any place that takes the time to serve brown rice is at least somewhat thinking the right thoughts about nutrition. As far as I know, the laws say that poultry cannot have hormones, which confuses me based on how they talked about trying to make the chickens bigger and bigger in the movie “Food, Inc.” – not sure how they could accomplish that without hormones. Red meat and dairy can have hormones, although a very large number of dairy producers now tout hormone-free on the label. Any animal can have antibiotics in their feed.

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