If you have any heart problems like high blood pressure, high cholesterol or coronary artery disease, your doctor may have told you that you should stay away from foods that carry risk factors for heart health. Things you’ll want to avoid are cholesterol, sodium, and saturated fat.
When we combined all the data across fast food menus, the averages of unhealthy component content of fast food meals came to 2110mg sodium, 260mg cholesterol, 14g saturated fat, and 1,193 calories per meal. Compared to the recommended maxima of 460mg sodium, 60mg cholesterol, 20g saturated fat, and 670 calories you can see why fast food might not be the healthiest choice.
But you don’t need to abandon fast food completely just because of your medical conditions. You just need to know what the most heart-healthy options are.
In this article
To create this list, we looked for restaurants that have a lot of options that are:
- Low in sodium
- Low in cholesterol
- Low in saturated fat
Bonus points if these foods also have:
- Higher plant-based fiber content
- Lower calories
Top 10 Heart Healthy Fast Food Meals
Here are the top ten restaurants with their most heart-healthy options.
1. Fruit n Yogurt Parfait
If you’re in the mood for something lighter or if you’re coming in for breakfast, the Fruit and Yogurt parfait has only 150 calories, 1g saturated fat, 5mg cholesterol, and 80mg sodium.
2. Premium Southwest Salad
If you want something a little more satiating, try out the Premium Southwest Salad. This salad has only 160 calories, 3g saturated fat, 15mg cholesterol, and 190mg sodium. This choice also provides significant nutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Calcium.
Spinach Savory Foldover
This item is sure to satisfy with 250 calories, 8g saturated fat, 50g cholesterol, and 380mg sodium. This option also brings a little bit of fiber, which is great for digestion.
6 pc Grilled Nuggets
The grilled nuggets have less fat and cholesterol content than their fried counterpart, with only 110 calories, 1g saturated fat, 50mg cholesterol, and 330mg sodium. This option has great protein content for the calories with over half of the calories coming from protein.
4. Taco Bell
The Crunchy Taco is versatile and healthy, the healthiest options for the type of taco are beans and chicken. The bean variant is more heart healthy, though. The Bean Crunchy Taco comes in at 170 calories, 3.5g saturated fat, 25mg cholesterol, and 300mg sodium. The bean option gives you 8 grams of protein, but switching that out for the chicken would boost that value.
The Jr. Hamburger is the best option for your heart, with 90 calories, 3g saturated fat, 30mg cholesterol, and 70mg sodium. The only other main menu item that stays under the required limits is the 6pc nugget. All other main menu items surpass sodium limits.
6. Dunkin’ Donuts
The hashbrowns from Dunkin’ are the lowest calorie option that stays under the heart-healthy limits. The hashbrowns have 110 calories, 1.5g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, and 360mg sodium. Single donut holes pass the test as well.
7. Burger King
4pc Chicken Nugget
The chicken nuggets from Burger King are pretty heart-healthy, with a calorie content of 170, 15g saturated fat, 25mg cholesterol, and 310mg sodium. Many items on this menu are passable like the Crispy Taco, French Toast Sticks, Unsalted Fries, and more.
This is the only sandwich that stays under limits at subway, with 160 calories, 3g saturated fat, 20mg cholesterol, and 430mg sodium.
None of the meat-based protein sources can be considered healthy, so our next best main meal option is their Fajita Vegetables. They have 20 calories, 0 saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, and 170mg sodium.
Sonic does not have any main menu items that fill the prerequisites for being heart-healthy. The fries have 290 calories, 2.5g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, and 300mg sodium. I’m honestly impressed that Sonic doesn’t have any cholesterol in their fries, so at least they have that going for them.
You don’t need to abandon fast food completely just because of your medical conditions, but there are smarter choices if you’re on the go or don’t feel like cooking. If you’d like to see more options for healthy choices at fast food restaurants, check out this master article.
Keep in mind, most physicians will tell you to try to limit your fast food intake to once a week or less if you have heart problems.