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The Best And Worst Salads You Can Order At Chain Restaurants

Ordering a salad doesn't always mean you made a healthy choice.

If you’re the type of person who goes to a fast food (or fast casual) restaurant and orders a salad, we’re willing to bet it’s because you care about eating a healthy meal. You know you should be eating a certain amount of vegetables a day, and that salads will help you do that.

But just how nutritious are salads at these restaurants? Here’s the thing: it varies, by a lot. Some salads can make for healthy meal, while others can pack more calories, fat and sodium than a Big Mac.

We rounded up the updated nutritional information on popular salads you can find at McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell ― yep, they make a salad ― and Panera. The findings were somewhat surprising: while we weren’t shocked to learn that a taco salad served in a fried shell is probably the least healthy salad choice out there, we were surprised to learn that you really can get a healthy salad option at some of the other chains.

Check it out ― in order from most caloric to least caloric ― and eat smarter:

Taco Bell
Ingredients: seasoned beef, seasoned rice, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, reduced fat sour cream, red strips (crunchy tortilla), beans and fire roasted salsa.Nutritional information:760 calories39g fat1,320mg sodium27g protein
Burger King
Ingredients: green romaine, green leaf and radicchio lettuce, crispy chicken, thick-cut smoked bacon pieces, shredded cheddar cheese, tomatoes, buttery garlic croutons and dressing. Nutritional information:710 calories50g fat1,800mg sodium32g protein
Ingredients: buttermilk crispy chicken, chopped romaine, spinach, kale, red leaf lettuce, carrots, cheese, bacon, tomatoes and Newman's Own Ranch dressing. Nutritional information:690 calories 44g fat1,120mg sodium35g protein
Burger King
Ingredients: mix of greens -- green romaine, green leaf and radicchio lettuce -- tomatoes, shredded cheese, buttery garlic croutons, grilled chicken and ranch dressing.Nutritional information:
600 calories
43g fat
2010mg sodium
40g protein
Ingredients: red and green apples, crumbled blue cheese, sweet cranberries, roasted pecans, warm grilled chicken and Marzetti Simply Dressed Pomegranate Vinaigrette.Nutritional information:560 calories24g fat1,020mg sodium38g protein
Ingredients: romaine, kale, arugula-radicchio blend, citrus and pepper chicken, avocado, tomatoes, hard-boiled egg, green goddess dressing with whole milk Greek yogurt, pickled red onions and applewood smoked bacon pieces.Nutritional information:
550 calories
33g fat
720mg sodium
36g protein
Ingredients: romaine lettuce, quinoa sofrito tomato blend, Greek dressing, kale, cucumber, feta cheese, almonds, kalamata olives. Nutritional information:
530 calories
41g fat870mg sodium11g protein
Ingredients: mango, strawberries, honey-roasted sunflower seeds, grilled chicken breast, feta cheese and honey citrus vinaigrette dressing.Nutritional information:470 calories19g fat1,140mg sodium39g protein
Ingredients: grilled chicken, salad blend of assorted greens, corn, black beans, tomato, poblano, jack cheese, tortilla strips and Newman's Own Southwest dressing.Nutritional information:470 calories19g fat1,020mg sodium37g protein
Ingredients: Romaine lettuce, citrus and pepper chicken, Asian sesame vinaigrette dressing, crispy wonton strips, almonds, sesame seeds and cilantro.Nutritional information:410 calories20g fat540mg sodium25g protein