Is McDonald’s healthy? 10 menu options for when you’re trying to be good

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In some circles, tentatively asking, “Is McDonald’s healthy” will likely get you laughed out of the room. After all, most people agree that eating double-stacked cheeseburgers on sugar bread isn’t necessarily the path to a six-pack.

However, it’s also true that there’s much more to the Golden Arches’ menu than meets the eye. As it turns out, there are plenty of ways to eat without at Maccies when you’re trying to be a bit more restrained.

How much does McDonald's CEO make There’s much more to the Golden Arches’ menu than meets the eye (Credit: Pexels)

Is McDonald’s healthy?

While McDonald’s might lack the health credentials of some popular restaurants, McDonald’s can be healthy and there are plenty of healthier options on the menu.

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In fact, plenty of the franchise’s most popular items actually aren’t as bad for you as you might think.

Here are 10 of the healthiest options at McDonald’s for when you don’t want to wake up with a food hangover.

1. Porridge

Quaker oats McDonald's Is McDonald's healthy McDonald’s Porridge is a great breakfast option (Credit: McDonald’s)

McDonald’s breakfasts are the stuff of legend. However, if you don’t fancy the full sausage McMuffin or bacon bap, there are several great alternatives.

Featuring genuine Quaker oats, the McDonald’s porridge pots are a great breakfast choice. At under 200 calories and with around 5 grams of fat, they’re a delicious, nutritious way to start the morning.

2. Hamburger

Is McDonald's healthy hamburger The classic McDonald’s hamburger is healthier than you might think (Credit: McDonald’s)

Perhaps surprisingly, the classic hamburger is one of the least calorific burger choices at McDonald’s.

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Without cheese, the dish weighs in at just 250 calories and includes just 8 grams of fat. The only downside is the 480mg of salt, but you can’t have everything.

3. Grilled chicken salad

McDonald's grilled chicken Grilled chicken is a common component in several McDonald’s menu items (Credit: McDonald’s)

Some McDonald’s salads can actually be surprisingly bad for you. The key is to choose something with grilled chicken.

Grilling is a far healthier alternative to frying and can make all the difference to your lunch. Another tip is to try and avoid options with creamy dressings, but going grilled is a great place to start.

4. Chicken nuggets

6 McNuggets Is McDonald's healthy A six-piece McNugget meal is a smart choice for when you’re trying to be good (Credit: McDonald’s)

This might seem too good to be true, but Chicken McNuggets really aren’t as bad as you might think. In fact, compared to other fried chicken favourites, they’re positively saintly.

A selection of six McNuggets contains around 100 calories less than three Chicken Selects. This makes them a great option for the health-conscious.

5. Grilled chicken wrap

McDonald's grilled chicken wrap Grilled chicken wraps are one of McDonald’s healthier choices (Credit: McDonald’s)

McDonald’s lunch menu provides plenty of pitfalls for the health-conscious – but the Grilled chicken wrap isn’t one of them.

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Just like the salads, the inclusion of grilled rather than fried chicken makes all the difference. With just 181 calories, it’s certainly worth considering.

6. Carrot sticks

McDonald's carrot sticks in a bag McDonald’s carrot sticks are a popular snack (Credit: McDonald’s)

It goes without saying that a bag of vegetables is better for you than a burger. Nevertheless, it’s worth being aware that carrot sticks are available at McDonald’s.

Carrots are a great source of nutrients and make for a great side snack to a salad or wrap. It’s certainly more health-conscious than a packet of French fries.

7. Filet-o-Fish

McDonald's filet-o-fish The Filet-o-Fish is a classic McDonald’s option (Credit: McDonald’s)

Another surprising inclusion, McDonald’s signature seafood sub has long been a hit with health aficionados. At 390 calories, it’s probably the heftiest inclusion on this list. However, the Filet-o-Fish has other benefits.

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The sandwich is actually a great source of protein (14 grams) as well as omega-3 oils and other important minerals such as iron and potassium. Add that to the fact it’s absolutely delicious and you have a surefire winner.

8. Egg and Cheese McMuffin

Is McDonald's healthy The Egg & Cheese McMuffin is a breakfast classic (Credit: McDonald’s)

Another stalwart of the breakfast menu, the Egg and Cheese McMuffin stands head and shoulders above other sandwich options.

The dish comes with one slice of cheese and a free-range egg, meaning it’s packed with 16 grams of protein. If you’re looking for a breakfast to keep you feeling full until lunchtime, this is a great bet.

In addition, the Egg and Cheese McMuffin  comes in at just 250 calories – a stark contrast to the Sausage and Egg McMuffin’s 430 calories.

9. Apple Pie

McDonald's apple pie Baked Apple Pies are actually one of the healthier dessert choices at McDonald’s (Credit: McDonald’s)

In no universe is deep-fried pastry a key part of any diet plan. However, the McDonald’s Apple Pie is actually a better option than you might think.

Not only is the dessert baked rather than fried, but it also compares favourably to desserts like the McFlurry. At 230 calories, with 9.5g of sugar – as opposed to 37g in a Smarties McFlurry – this treat offers the lowest sugar content of all the desserts on the McDonald’s menu. It also boasts 1.4g of fibre per serving, meaning a Maccies apple pie certainly isn’t as bad as it’s sometimes made out to be.

10. Veggie Dippers

Veggie Dippers Is McDonald's healthy Veggie Dippers contain high levels of fibre (Credit: McDonald’s)

McDonald’s plant-based alternative to McNuggets may be slightly more calorific, but Veggie Dippers make up for it in other ways.

At 321 calories, a four-pack also includes a generous amount of protein and 6g of fibre. This makes them among the most fibre-rich snacks on the menu.

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While it might require some careful planning, there’s no doubt that McDonald’s can be healthy.

If you know where to look, the Golden Arches definitely can deliver if you’re on your best behaviour.