If you have trouble thinking of a fast-food restaurant as anything but an indulgence, some of McDonald’s’ healthy options might surprise you.
McDonald’s, the company Ray Kroc started in 1955, is a name everyone in the developed world has heard, and most have eaten there at least once or twice.
The restaurant chain was such a success that it had sold its millionth hamburger only three years after opening, in 1958.
McDonald’s is still going strong over 65 years later, but the menu has shifted with the times. You can still get Big Macs and fries, but McDonald’s healthy items like the iconic Egg McMuffin, Chicken McNuggets, or a hamburger can easily fit into most people’s eating plans.
If you’re counting calories and need tasty food on the go, you can find some healthier options at McDonald’s to keep you on track.
Best Healthy Options at McDonald’s
Check out our favorite low calories McDonald’s items to stick to your diet on the go.
The Egg McMuffin was the first breakfast sandwich McDonald’s put on their menu in 1972.
The ingredients are simple. It includes one fresh egg, a circle of Canadian bacon, and a slice of American cheese sitting between buttered and toasted English muffin halves.
The Egg McMuffin doesn’t have any sauces or condiments, letting the melting cheese and the fried egg add a creamy texture.
For 310 calories and 13 grams of fat, you’ll get a hearty 17 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and about 15% of your daily iron, calcium, and Vitamin D.
This sandwich contains about one-third of the recommended limit for daily sodium, which you should keep in mind. Overall, it’s one of McDonalds healthy items and one of the best fast breakfast options available anywhere.
Fruit & Maple Oatmeal
McDonald’s Fruit & Maple Oatmeal is a lower fat and sodium option than the Egg McMuffin for about the same amount of calories.
I miss McDonald’s serving breakfast all day because oatmeal makes a great afternoon pick-me-up as well as a healthy breakfast.
Afternoon oats helped me make up for nutrition deficits earlier in the day by packing two servings of whole-grain oats and some fruit into my diet to make up for poor breakfast and lunch decisions.
Apples, raisins, golden raisins, and cranberries with cream and brown sugar make this oatmeal textured, sweet, and creamy.
At only 320 calories, this makes a great breakfast to kick off the day.
It’s hard to find a more simple and delicious sandwich than the Filet-O-Fish.
The fish in these sandwiches comes from fisheries managed with sustainable practices that make me feel better about eating them.
This wild-caught fish sandwich also happens to be one of the McDonalds healthy items on their menu for decades.
They fry the fish patties until they’re golden brown, then put them on a soft bun with half a slice of American cheese and tangy tartar sauce.
At only 380 calories, the Filet-O-Fish is a healthy choice as a lunch or dinner sandwich, especially paired with vegetables or a salad.
I got into the habit of always ordering fries with burgers and sandwiches, and I think many people do the same thing.
If you’re trying to eat healthier, dropping the regular French fries order is a good idea.
Try apple slices instead. At only 15 calories for a snack-sized pouch, you’ll save 205 calories and eliminate the 10 grams of fat a small order of fries contains.
The slices are also a healthier dessert option than the baked apple pie.
Sometimes I want a sweet treat in the afternoon, and instead of splurging 500 or more calories on ice cream, one or two pouches of apple slices can help.
Apples are one of the McDonalds healthy items that’s great for kids and can replace fries in their Happy Meals.
Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait
The Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait disappeared when McDonald’s simplified its menu during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of January 2022, there’s no word on when this delicious treat will be back.
I hope it returns soon because this parfait was a great way to enjoy something sweet and dessert-like without indulging in a milkshake or another fat-filled treat.
Healthy blueberries, strawberries, granola, and low-fat vanilla yogurt only add 150 calories and 2 grams of fat to the daily tally, making it one of the McDonalds healthy items that made me feel a little less guilty about eating from a drive-thru.
Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad
McDonald’s removed their Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad and all other salads from its menus in 2020 to respond to COVID.
If the company knows whether the premium salads will return, they haven’t announced it yet.
This salad was one of the best Mcdonald’s healthy items. Chopped, white-meat grilled chicken lightly seasoned with garlic powder, parsley, and salt sat on a bed of mixed greens like baby kale, spinach, and romaine.
Other ingredients included carrots, corn, tomatoes, poblano peppers, black beans, cilantro, and shredded cheese. A sprinkle of chili-lime tortilla strips topped it off and added a satisfying crunch.
The classic McChicken sandwich has been a permanent menu item since 1988 and remains one of the best and least expensive McDonalds healthy items.
This sandwich has only a few ingredients, which keeps the cost and calories down.
A fried and peppery chicken patty sits on a soft, toasted bun with shredded lettuce and mayonnaise.
Unlike McDonald’s artisan chicken sandwiches, the McChicken patty is a blend of dark and white meat instead of all white.
The dark meat makes the patty juicy and tender, while the perfect amount of mayo lends the sandwich creaminess. The lettuce adds a light crunch.
For only 400 calories, the McChicken is a healthy lunch or dinner choice.
Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich
The Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich was another casualty of the pandemic that hasn’t returned yet.
I hope this and the other chicken sandwiches come back soon because they added variety to the menu.
Instead of fried chicken, a seasoned and grilled chicken breast filet with tomato, lettuce, and a light but creamy vinaigrette dressing sat between halves of a toasted artisan bun.
This sandwich was an option for people who wanted a chicken sandwich with fewer calories and less fat than their deep-fried crispy chicken sandwiches.
As one of McDonald’s healthy items, this chicken sandwich had 360 calories and 6 grams of fat.
The original Hamburger is another of the McDonalds healthy items with a simple list of ingredients.
The burger is a 100% pure beef patty that contains no artificial colorings, flavorings, or preservatives.
Salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard, chopped onions, and a pickle top the burger and add the familiar flavors we associate with hamburgers.
The pickle slices contain an artificial preservative, but everything else in this sandwich is preservative-free, including the soft bun.
A McDonalds Hamburger is only 250 calories and 9 grams of fat. A small order of fries doubles the fat but still keeps the whole mean under 500 calories.
Six Piece Chicken McNuggets
McDonald’s Six Piece Chicken McNuggets contain 250 calories and 15 grams of fat, and you’ll also get 14 grams of protein if you have these for lunch or dinner.
The secret to the addictive taste of McNuggets is the 100% white meat chicken and the crispy outer crust that’s lightly seasoned and fried to perfection.
These nuggets are delicious, but I think a lot of the appeal is the variety of dipping sauces.
Choose from pure honey, honey mustard, tangy barbecue, sweet ‘n sour, spicy buffalo, or creamy ranch sauce. The sauces range from the buffalo sauce at 30 calories to the ranch at 110 calories.
Best Healthy Options at McDonald’s
- Egg McMuffin
- Fruit & Maple Oatmeal
- Apple Slices
- Fruit ‘N Yogurt Parfait
- Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad
- Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich
- Six Piece Chicken McNuggets
No matter what kind of eating plan you follow, McDonalds healthy items can be a great choice if you’re on the go or want to grab something fast instead of cooking at home.
While the McDonald’s menu does contain several high-fat and calorie items like McFlurries and Big Macs, you can make healthy choices that won’t blow your calorie budget.
I live a busy life and often don’t have time to cook or sit down at a restaurant for a leisurely meal. I’m glad I have fast-food options that I can enjoy without feeling guilty.
You don’t have to avoid drive-thrus, thanks to the variety of McDonalds healthy items that are tasty and available fast. You can even get it delivered to you.
Looking for something different? Check out McDonald’s secret menu items you never knew you could order!
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