America's Top 5 Healthiest Fast Food Restaurants

  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 16, 2010 2:19 PM GMT
    Who hasn’t unwrapped a sandwich while driving down the highway or pulled a hard U-turn into a fast-food joint on the way home from a late meeting or soccer game? We practically live in our cars, so we need quick food, and please, we’d like it to be healthy.

    Well, guess what: We surveyed the nation’s 100 largest fast-food chains, as defined by the number of locations, and found many are creating menus that look more and more like what we’d cook ourselves (if we had the time)—from nutritious soups and healthy salads to fresh whole grains and sensible desserts. Even better: They’re offering good-news Mexican, Asian, and Mediterranean fare.

    Using criteria that was created with the help of our expert panel, we scored the chains on such factors as the use of healthy fats and preparations, healthy sodium counts in entrees, availability of nutritional information, and the use of organic produce to determine the 10 highest-ranking restaurants.

    One big surprise: A traditional fast-food chain, McDonald’s, cracked our top 10. Sure, it’s the home of the Big Mac, but did you know it also serves a mean yogurt-and-granola parfait? Here, the standouts that are making grabbed food healthy food.


    1. Panera Bread
    Over 1,230 locations nationwide (and in Canada)

    This bakery-cafe-based eatery wowed our judges with a comprehensive menu of healthy choices for every meal. “Variety makes it easy for everyone to choose healthy,” praises registered dietitian and panelist Marisa Moore. What does that mean for you? For starters, you can pick from two whole-grain breads for your sandwich and have an apple with it instead of chips (though the chips are fine, too—they can be baked!). Half-size soups, salads, and sandwiches make it a cinch to control portion size. Also, most of the chicken is antibiotic- and hormone-free, a rarity for large chains.

    Panera also won top honors for kid fare, dishing out RD-approved crowd-pleasers like squeezable organic yogurt, PB&J (with all-natural peanut butter), and grilled organic cheese on white whole-grain bread.

    We love: Delicious, nutrient-packed combos like a half–Turkey Artichoke on focaccia bread with a bowl of black bean or garden vegetable soup.
    Danger zone: Sticky buns and cheese danishes are on display at the counter.

    Health.com: The 50 fattiest foods in the states

    2. Jason’s Deli
    206 locations in the West, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, South

    How did this up-and-comer snag second place? Largely because of its devotion to organic food: About one-fifth of all its ingredients are organic, from blue-corn tortilla chips and whole-wheat wraps to field greens and spinach. Plus, its creative salads—like the Nutty Mixed-Up Salad with organic field greens, grapes, chicken breast, feta cheese, walnuts, dried cranberries, pumpkinseeds, raisins, and organic apples—make you actually want to order the greens.

    Our judges applauded the portion-control option: Reduced sizes of, say, a stuffed baked potato, are $1 less. Jason’s menu also highlights ultrahealthy sandwiches and provides the nutitional info.

    We love: Being able to build any sandwich on an organic whole-wheat wrap.
    Danger zone: High-sodium counts on some sandwiches; if sodium is a concern, stick to the ultrahealthy choices.

    3. Au Bon Pain
    280 locations nationwide

    A pioneer in healthy fast food, Au Bon Pain serves up sandwiches, soups, salads, and hot entrees made with whole grains, veggies, and hormone-free chicken.

    New this year: Portions, a 14-item menu of nutritious small plates—from appetizers like apples, blue cheese, and cranberries to salads like chickpea and tomato—all of which are less than 200 calories. Another impressive feature: Au Bon Pain provides on-site nutritional information via computer kiosks, so before you even order you know each option’s calories, fat, and sodium. “It’s a great way to empower customers,” praises judge Amy Jamieson-Petonic.

    We love: Yummy low-cal soups, from Jamaican Black Bean to Fire Roasted Exotic Grains and Vegetables.
    Danger zone: The sodium counts can get high if you don’t pay attention.

    Health.com: 25 diet-busting foods you should never eat

    4. Noodles and Company
    204 locations in West, Midwest, South

    Noodles and Company isn’t your typical greasy Asian food-court joint. In fact, it goes beyond Asian fare and cuts out the grease (only healthy soybean oil is used in sauteing). Here, you choose from three food types: Asian, Mediterranean, or American, then within each style, pick from four noodle bowl options. Lean proteins—hormone- and antibiotic-free chicken, beef, shrimp, and organic tofu—can be added, too.

    The result? Tasty combos like Japanese Pan Noodles with broccoli, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, Asian sprouts, and sauteed beef. Also key: “You don’t have to chow down on a giant bowl of noodles. You can opt for a small portion,” says judge Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, Health’s Senior Food and Nutrition Editor. The small Bangkok Curry bowl has just 250 calories.

    We love: The whole-grain linguine—usually hard to find when eating out.
    Danger zone: The desserts. The only options are two kinds of cookies and a Rice Krispy Treat bar that checks in at 530 calories and 19 grams of fat!

    5. Corner Bakery Cafe
    111 locations in West, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, South

    What sets Corner Bakery apart? A fantastic breakfast menu, which is rare in the quick-serve world. We love the Farmer’s Scrambler: eggs scrambled with red and green bell peppers, red onion, mushrooms, potatoes, and Cheddar cheese. (It’s only 260 calories when ordered with egg whites.) There’s also Swiss oatmeal, a chilled European breakfast cereal made with rolled oats, green apples, bananas, currants, dried cranberries, low-fat yogurt, and skim milk.

    But Corner Bakery also has healthy salads, sandwiches, and soups made with whole grains, fresh, lean meats, and vegetables, as well as great portion-controlled combinations that make limiting calories a no-brainer.

    We love: Healthy oven-roasted chicken that comes on most pastas and salads.
    Danger zone: You have to go to their Web site to get nutritional info.

    http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/food/americas-top-5-healthiest-fast-food-restaurants-2397396/
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Oct 16, 2010 6:36 PM GMT
    Jason's Deli makes me salivate. I love their muffalettas!
  • jlly_rnchr

    Posts: 1759

    Oct 16, 2010 6:40 PM GMT
    I loved Noodles in college. Had it once a week at least.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 16, 2010 6:47 PM GMT
    What about Chipotle's??? ... icon_eek.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 16, 2010 6:59 PM GMT
    Chipotle made the list at number 6. I love their bowls (sans sour cream and cheese of course).
  • BlackBeltGuy

    Posts: 2609

    Oct 16, 2010 7:25 PM GMT
    where's LONG JOHN SILVERS? thats my favorite.
    a number 2 add a piece shrimp add a piece chicken
  • JockNerd

    Posts: 89

    Oct 16, 2010 11:57 PM GMT
    It's a shame that of the Top 10, we only have 3 in New York...and one of those three is McDonald's.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 16, 2010 11:59 PM GMT
    Jason's deli is awesome, Sante Fe chicken sandwich and their Ice teas, yummy
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 22, 2010 4:49 PM GMT
    Panera (started as St. Louis Bread Co. <-- also started within my family), is my favorite.


    Chicken Noodle Soup, or Potato soup if I'm feeling up for a 7 mile run.

    <3 Corner Bakery too, haven't had that since I moved from Dallas.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 22, 2010 5:12 PM GMT
    Other than Panera Bread, I've never heard of any of those places on the list. My concerns with eating out is the food being healthy and supplying me with enough nutrients. I need to eat a lot of protein and many places I go to don't give me enough so I don't even bother, even if their meals are healthy.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 23, 2010 5:41 AM GMT
    I've never heard of any of these places... we certainly don't have them in Australia... there is definitely a need for them though, given we recently overtook the US as the fattest nation on Earth!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 23, 2010 5:58 AM GMT
    They kinda double-dipped. Panera and Au Bon Pain are the same company. I've eaten at Panera and Corner Bakery Cafe. The food is pretty decent, but somewhat pricey.

    I like Chioptle. Carbs, carbs, carbs. Perfect for restoring your muscle glycogen stores after a hard workout.

    We have a local chain here called Wahoo's Fish Tacos. It's surf/beach inspired Mexican food. The food is so light and clean. Tastes great, and affordable.

    I also like Sansai. It's pseudo-Japanese food. Their spicy chicken bowl is pretty good.
  • chapguy123

    Posts: 25

    Oct 24, 2010 12:07 AM GMT
    Chipotle is so not healthy. The last burrito I had was 1100 calories and so loaded with bad carbs.
  • mtnsky

    Posts: 17

    Oct 24, 2010 12:31 AM GMT
    "healthiest fast food" is an oxymoron
  • jessetriguy

    Posts: 339

    Oct 24, 2010 12:36 AM GMT
    I love PANERA!!! icon_biggrin.gif


    Wan2GetBigR saidWho hasn’t unwrapped a sandwich while driving down the highway or pulled a hard U-turn into a fast-food joint on the way home from a late meeting or soccer game? We practically live in our cars, so we need quick food, and please, we’d like it to be healthy.

    Well, guess what: We surveyed the nation’s 100 largest fast-food chains, as defined by the number of locations, and found many are creating menus that look more and more like what we’d cook ourselves (if we had the time)—from nutritious soups and healthy salads to fresh whole grains and sensible desserts. Even better: They’re offering good-news Mexican, Asian, and Mediterranean fare.

    Using criteria that was created with the help of our expert panel, we scored the chains on such factors as the use of healthy fats and preparations, healthy sodium counts in entrees, availability of nutritional information, and the use of organic produce to determine the 10 highest-ranking restaurants.

    One big surprise: A traditional fast-food chain, McDonald’s, cracked our top 10. Sure, it’s the home of the Big Mac, but did you know it also serves a mean yogurt-and-granola parfait? Here, the standouts that are making grabbed food healthy food.


    1. Panera Bread
    Over 1,230 locations nationwide (and in Canada)

    This bakery-cafe-based eatery wowed our judges with a comprehensive menu of healthy choices for every meal. “Variety makes it easy for everyone to choose healthy,” praises registered dietitian and panelist Marisa Moore. What does that mean for you? For starters, you can pick from two whole-grain breads for your sandwich and have an apple with it instead of chips (though the chips are fine, too—they can be baked!). Half-size soups, salads, and sandwiches make it a cinch to control portion size. Also, most of the chicken is antibiotic- and hormone-free, a rarity for large chains.

    Panera also won top honors for kid fare, dishing out RD-approved crowd-pleasers like squeezable organic yogurt, PB&J (with all-natural peanut butter), and grilled organic cheese on white whole-grain bread.

    We love: Delicious, nutrient-packed combos like a half–Turkey Artichoke on focaccia bread with a bowl of black bean or garden vegetable soup.
    Danger zone: Sticky buns and cheese danishes are on display at the counter.

    Health.com: The 50 fattiest foods in the states

    2. Jason’s Deli
    206 locations in the West, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, South

    How did this up-and-comer snag second place? Largely because of its devotion to organic food: About one-fifth of all its ingredients are organic, from blue-corn tortilla chips and whole-wheat wraps to field greens and spinach. Plus, its creative salads—like the Nutty Mixed-Up Salad with organic field greens, grapes, chicken breast, feta cheese, walnuts, dried cranberries, pumpkinseeds, raisins, and organic apples—make you actually want to order the greens.

    Our judges applauded the portion-control option: Reduced sizes of, say, a stuffed baked potato, are $1 less. Jason’s menu also highlights ultrahealthy sandwiches and provides the nutitional info.

    We love: Being able to build any sandwich on an organic whole-wheat wrap.
    Danger zone: High-sodium counts on some sandwiches; if sodium is a concern, stick to the ultrahealthy choices.

    3. Au Bon Pain
    280 locations nationwide

    A pioneer in healthy fast food, Au Bon Pain serves up sandwiches, soups, salads, and hot entrees made with whole grains, veggies, and hormone-free chicken.

    New this year: Portions, a 14-item menu of nutritious small plates—from appetizers like apples, blue cheese, and cranberries to salads like chickpea and tomato—all of which are less than 200 calories. Another impressive feature: Au Bon Pain provides on-site nutritional information via computer kiosks, so before you even order you know each option’s calories, fat, and sodium. “It’s a great way to empower customers,” praises judge Amy Jamieson-Petonic.

    We love: Yummy low-cal soups, from Jamaican Black Bean to Fire Roasted Exotic Grains and Vegetables.
    Danger zone: The sodium counts can get high if you don’t pay attention.

    Health.com: 25 diet-busting foods you should never eat

    4. Noodles and Company
    204 locations in West, Midwest, South

    Noodles and Company isn’t your typical greasy Asian food-court joint. In fact, it goes beyond Asian fare and cuts out the grease (only healthy soybean oil is used in sauteing). Here, you choose from three food types: Asian, Mediterranean, or American, then within each style, pick from four noodle bowl options. Lean proteins—hormone- and antibiotic-free chicken, beef, shrimp, and organic tofu—can be added, too.

    The result? Tasty combos like Japanese Pan Noodles with broccoli, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, Asian sprouts, and sauteed beef. Also key: “You don’t have to chow down on a giant bowl of noodles. You can opt for a small portion,” says judge Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, Health’s Senior Food and Nutrition Editor. The small Bangkok Curry bowl has just 250 calories.

    We love: The whole-grain linguine—usually hard to find when eating out.
    Danger zone: The desserts. The only options are two kinds of cookies and a Rice Krispy Treat bar that checks in at 530 calories and 19 grams of fat!

    5. Corner Bakery Cafe
    111 locations in West, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, South

    What sets Corner Bakery apart? A fantastic breakfast menu, which is rare in the quick-serve world. We love the Farmer’s Scrambler: eggs scrambled with red and green bell peppers, red onion, mushrooms, potatoes, and Cheddar cheese. (It’s only 260 calories when ordered with egg whites.) There’s also Swiss oatmeal, a chilled European breakfast cereal made with rolled oats, green apples, bananas, currants, dried cranberries, low-fat yogurt, and skim milk.

    But Corner Bakery also has healthy salads, sandwiches, and soups made with whole grains, fresh, lean meats, and vegetables, as well as great portion-controlled combinations that make limiting calories a no-brainer.

    We love: Healthy oven-roasted chicken that comes on most pastas and salads.
    Danger zone: You have to go to their Web site to get nutritional info.

    http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/food/americas-top-5-healthiest-fast-food-restaurants-2397396/
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 24, 2010 12:40 AM GMT
    Karate1974 saidwhere's LONG JOHN SILVERS? thats my favorite.
    a number 2 add a piece shrimp add a piece chicken


    Long John Silvers uses MSG and alot of sodium in their foods
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 24, 2010 12:43 AM GMT
    Steel241 said
    Karate1974 saidwhere's LONG JOHN SILVERS? thats my favorite.
    a number 2 add a piece shrimp add a piece chicken


    Long John Silvers uses MSG and alot of sodium in their foods


    I think he was using sarcasm..
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 24, 2010 12:44 AM GMT
    ZJ_JB said
    Steel241 said
    Karate1974 saidwhere's LONG JOHN SILVERS? thats my favorite.
    a number 2 add a piece shrimp add a piece chicken


    Long John Silvers uses MSG and alot of sodium in their foods


    I think he was using sarcasm..


    I knew that....I think icon_redface.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 24, 2010 12:44 AM GMT
    Steel241 said
    ZJ_JB said
    Steel241 said
    Karate1974 saidwhere's LONG JOHN SILVERS? thats my favorite.
    a number 2 add a piece shrimp add a piece chicken


    Long John Silvers uses MSG and alot of sodium in their foods


    I think he was using sarcasm..


    I knew that....I think icon_redface.gif


    icon_smile.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Oct 24, 2010 5:25 AM GMT
    What do you know? #1 and #4 are two of my favorite restaurants. icon_smile.gif There's even a Noodles and Co. across the street from campus.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 16, 2013 7:53 AM GMT
    well, in new york city it's all about 'subway, eat fresh'.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 16, 2013 7:55 AM GMT
    coolarmydude saidJason's Deli makes me salivate. I love their muffalettas!


    The New York Yankee!

    JasonsDeli-NewYorkYankee1.jpg

    BAM!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Jan 17, 2013 12:30 AM GMT
    There's a place in Tucson, called Beyond Bread, and it is healthy, delicious, and filling! icon_razz.gif
  • cavecanem10

    Posts: 70

    Jan 17, 2013 1:28 AM GMT
    I love Bread Co. (what it's called in the St. Louis), I grew up on all that stuff, and it still tastes pretty much exactly like it did back then, which is awesome.

    Noodles is somewhat surprising, especially if you consider the Wisconsin Mac & Cheese, which is amazing, but surely not great for you.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
    Log in to view his profile

    Feb 23, 2013 7:45 AM GMT
    Subway should be on top since they are available almost everywhere. I like their foot long hams.