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9 Lower Sodium Fast Food Orders at Popular Chain Restaurants

Tasty Big Mac hamburger french fries of McDonald's restaurant

Convenience drives us to popular chain restaurants for a quick and satisfying meal in our fast-paced modern lives. However, health concerns—specifically, excessive salt consumption—are more widespread than ever. The good news is that for customers who want to choose healthier restaurants, many of these chains now have lower-sodium options available. We explore the world of popular chain restaurants’ lower-sodium fast food options in this dietary exploration. This guide will assist you in navigating menus and finding tasty but lower-sodium options, whether you’re trying to control high blood pressure or just eating a heart-healthy diet. We’ll look at the best options that demonstrate that tasty and nutritious can coexist, from salads to sandwiches.


McDonald’s

Double McDonald's Hamburger Combo Set

McDonald’s specialties are burgers and fries, but you can consume low-sodium fast food by asking them to hold salty condiments and fixings.  You can’t go wrong with a Fruit & Maple Oatmeal cup for breakfast. It’s the lowest sodium item on the McDonald’s menu, weighing in at only 150 mg of sodium (7% DV). It includes whole grain rolled oats, diced apples, a cranberry raisin blend, and light cream.  If it’s lunch or dinner, order a high protein (14g) Filet-o-Fish sandwich with no cheese and no tartar sauce with 370 mg of sodium (16% DV), which is originally 580 mg. Try the Classic McDonald’s Hamburger, but ask them to hold the pickles, ketchup, and mustard for only 380 mg of sodium (17% DV) compared to the usual 510 mg. 


Subway

Honey oat sandwich at Subway sandwiches restaurant.

Subway serves deli subs and salads, making it easier to find low sodium options. Customize your own sub or salad to meet your taste desire.  If you are a vegetarian or vegan, try the Veggie Delight. An average 6” Veggie Delight is about 200 calories and 320 mg of sodium. You can consume even lower sodium if you keep cheese, dressings, pickles, and other high-sodium fixings off the sandwich. Turn it into a salad to cut out the bread to intake only 75 mg of sodium. Try a Tuna Salad with 390 mg of sodium, which comes with tuna, lettuce, tomato, onion, olives, green peppers, and cucumbers. Download the Nutrition Data Tables (USA) PDF file to learn more about Subway’s menu options. 


Taco Bell

Taco Bell building exterior

Consuming tacos can be a sodium bomb because of the meat, salsa, cheese, and flour tortillas. However, there are some low-sodium fast food options you can try at Taco Bell.  A hash brown (280 mg) and orange juice (20 mg) total 300 mg. Order a regular crunchy taco for the same intake. Try the cheesy rollup for 430 mg of sodium. The nacho cheese Doritos Locos taco is 350 mg. The side of chips with nacho cheese is 280 mg. For a light dessert, order the cinnamon twists, my personal favorite, which is 115 mg.  Expert Tip: Steer clear of Taco Bell’s hot sauce packets as they add on an additional 30 mg to 55 mg of sodium per packet. 

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Chick-fil-A

Two chicken sandwiches, waffles fries and salad on a red tray.

Chick-fil-A specializes in chicken sandwiches and salads with low sodium options. For example, the Grilled Market Salad with no chicken weighs in at 190 mg of sodium as long as you do not use the zesty apple cider vinaigrette (460 mg of sodium for the whole packet). A Greek yogurt parfait and a fruit cup (no salt) contain only 80 mg of sodium for breakfast, and Simply brand orange juice is only an additional 10 mg, which makes your meal less than 100 mg of sodium intake.  For lunch or dinner, choose the five-count grilled nuggets (270 mg) and the small waffle potato fries (190 mg) for a tasty meal. Pair with a small lemonade for an additional 5 mg. Cut the sodium completely by ordering water. 


Chipotle

Chipotle plate and receipt. Chipotle restaurant logo

Chipotle’s build-your-own burritos, salads, and tacos make it easy to order low-sodium fast food with over 53 ingredient choices.  Out of the meats, chicken has the lowest sodium at 310 mg. A salad with lettuce, chicken, and fajita vegetables (150 mg) totals 460 mg of sodium. Substitute the chicken for pinto or black beans to cut 100 mg of sodium out of this total.   When I’m in the mood for extra crunch, I choose the chicken tacos on a crispy corn tortilla. The 310 mg of sodium count divides into the three crispy corn tortillas containing no sodium. Add lettuce, tomato, and black or pinto beans for an additional 210 mg of sodium. 


Panera Bread 

Tuscan Grilled Chicken Sandwich on a white plate at a Panera

Panera Bread’s bowls and soups in grocery stores are high in sodium, from 600 mg to over 1000 mg per serving. However, they have lower sodium snack options.  Try the Everything Cheese Crisps that are 160 calories and 350 mg of sodium for 24 crisps. One plain Panera Bread bagel or everything bagel is 330 mg of sodium. Choose the cinnamon swirl bagel to cut out 30 mg of sodium.  Consume a half cup instead of one to tame your soup cravings. A half cup of autumn squash soup is 410 mg, while a half cup of creamy tomato soup is 250 mg.  Panera’s salad menu also has some healthier offerings!


Burger King

Burger king set has hamburger french fries and cola drink

For a breakfast at Burger King, have a sweet yet low sodium treat of three French Toast sticks for only 317.8 mg of sodium. Split the small hash browns with a friend to intake 405.9 mg of sodium.  Low sodium options for lunch and dinner include the four-piece chicken nuggets (495 mg), four-piece jalapeno cheddar bites (453.6 mg), the Whopper Junior or Classic Hamburger, both at 570 mg of sodium (omit the pickles and ketchup the reduce the sodium count even further). If you’re looking for a low-sodium dessert, try the order of two chocolate chip cookies, which are only 220 mg. Soft serve in a cup is 146 mg of sodium, while the same in a cone is an additional 7.6 mg. 

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Starbucks

Starbucks frappuccino Irish coffee and Green tea latte frappuccino

Starbucks mostly specializes in hot and iced coffee beverages, but you can enjoy low-sodium breakfast meals or snacks with your daily cup of coffee.  Low-sodium fast food breakfast options are plentiful at Starbucks. Try the Kale and Mushroom Egg Bites for 340 mg of sodium, which is the least salty out of the available options. The Rolled and Steel-Cut Oatmeal with Blueberries is 130 mg of sodium. The Strawberry Overnight Grains have only 15 mg of sodium, while the Berry Trio Parfait has 125 mg of sodium.  When I’m not particularly hungry, I’ll grab a Vanilla Biscotti with Almonds for 135 mg or the Squirrel Brand Fruit and Nut snack pack, which is only 100 mg of sodium. 


Wendy’s

A Wendy's fast food restaurant is pictured.

Wendy’s is another hamburger and fry chain that will take some navigating to find low-sodium fast food options, unless you recreate their recipes at home with less salt..  Even a Sausage Biscuit comes in at 470 calories and 980 mg of sodium. Split the sandwich with a friend to lower the sodium intake to 490 mg. Some lower sodium options for lunch and dinner include the four-piece crispy chicken nuggets with 380 mg of sodium or the Jr. Hamburger with 420 mg of sodium; remove the pickles and ketchup to reduce the sodium count even further.  The good news is, if you’re looking for a tasty treat instead of a full meal, there are plenty of low-sodium options. The apple bites contain no sodium, while the Junior Strawberry Frosty contains 85 mg, and the Junior Chocolate Frosty contains 90 mg of sodium. 

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

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