Often fast food is high in salt, saturated fat, and sugar which can pose many health concerns. Salt is of special concern as it can increase blood pressure and the risk of heart disease. But there are low sodium Burger King Options available?
Because I know… it is exhausting cooking meals every day for yourself and your family, and that’s what makes fast food so desirable. It’s convenient in this fast-paced world. Fast food restaurants are accessible since some are open 24 hours, some have drive-thrus, and some are available for delivery.
When asked to estimate the sodium content in fast food options, up to 90% of adults and 88% of adolescents underestimated the number (1). It is already difficult to estimate the sodium content for one food option and even harder to provide an estimation for a fast food meal.
With growing concerns for fast food nutrition, It is important to know which menu items will satisfy your cravings that also fit into a heart-healthy diet.
If you’re looking for healthy options to order at Burger King, keep on reading!
- Sodium And Fast Food
- Sodium And Health
- Where Can You Find Nutrition Information At Burger King
- Low Sodium Burger King Breakfast
- Low Sodium Burger King Lunch And Dinner
- Low Sodium Burger King Kids Meals
- What You Should Avoid At Burger King
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Tips On Lowering Sodium When Eating At Fast Food Restaurants
- Top 3 Healthy Menu Options At Burger King
- Final Thoughts
Sodium And Fast Food
Who could say no to some crunchy French fries or an immaculately grilled burger? Unfortunately, such options contribute substantially to the sodium intake for consumers, making fast food a growing component of the North American diet.
And Burger King’s salt content is no different.
A study reports that across 3 menu categories (entrées, sides, and desserts) at 10 different fast food franchises, including Burger King, all of them have been shown to increase their portion sizes and as a result their sodium content over a 30-year period (2).
Sodium And Health
Eating salty food can cause an array of discomforts such as bloating, dehydration, bloating, nausea, fatigue, etc. These are short-term consequences of high sodium consumption.
Long-term consequences of eating too much sodium include high blood pressure, calcium loss, kidney disease, heart attack, and stroke.
A high sodium intake is associated with elevated blood pressure, from children and adolescents to adults (3). It is common knowledge that sodium increases blood pressure, but how does it induce such an effect?
Your body retains more water when you consume more sodium to maintain electrolyte balance. More water is in your bloodstream, putting more pressure on the walls of blood vessels.
If your blood pressure is consistently above the normal range, you might be diagnosed with hypertension which is high blood pressure.
As a result, the DASH diet, short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, was created. This diet focuses on lowering blood pressure through increased intakes of heart-healthy fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products (4).
Calcium Loss From Bones
The sodium-proton exchanger (NH3) is responsible for both sodium and calcium reabsorption (5). The exchanger reduces its workload in response to a high intake of sodium which as a result lowers calcium absorption. To replenish this drop in calcium level, your body breaks down its calcium reservoir in the bones.
A lower concentration of calcium in the blood also triggers the production of parathyroid hormone that can bring the calcium level back to normal. The hormone stimulates the breakdown of bone tissue to release calcium into the bloodstream. Over time, this could lead to osteoporosis in which bones are brittle and fragile, making one prone to fractures.
Older adults, especially postmenopausal women, are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. A study involving postmenopausal Korean Women following an Asian diet that has a relatively higher amount of sodium and a lower amount of calcium has identified the coexistence between high blood pressure and osteoporosis (6).
As discussed, an excessive sodium intake can result in increased fluid retention and in turn high blood pressure. The kidneys, our body’s filtration system, and their blood vessels have to work overtime to remove excess nutrients and toxins.
This increased workload can decrease the kidney’s efficiency, meaning that they are not able to excrete sodium as well, leading to increased blood pressure. Gradually, kidney function declines.
A study has also established a positive association between sodium intake and proteinuria, an excessive amount of protein in urine which is a risk factor for chronic kidney disease (7). Sodium restriction can consequently lower blood pressure and be a therapeutic treatment for the disorder.
Heart Attack or Stroke
We have discussed how increased sodium can raise blood pressure. This high pressure can stiffen the arteries to compensate for the increased workload. Arterial stiffness has been a predictor for heart attack or stroke as it reduces the blood flow and oxygen delivery to the heart and brain respectively (8).
Recent studies have suggested that elevated sodium can trigger endothelial cells which form a single cell layer that lines blood vessels to promote inflammation and coagulation (9). This increases the risk of the buildup of materials in arteries, blocking the blood flow to heart and brain.
How Much Sodium Per Day?
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends consuming at most 2,300 mg of sodium per day with an ideal limit of 1,500 mg or less for adults (10).
Where Can You Find Nutrition Information At Burger King
Looking for Burger King’s salt content of all their offerings?
You can find nutrition information on Burger King’s official website. Click on the “Menu” section and then choose a specific menu item you are interested in. A nutritional information window for your chosen item will pop up and you can make an educated choice from there.
You can also download the Burger King app on your mobile device.
What Is Considered A Low Sodium Choice
According to AHA, a low sodium product contains 140 mg or less per serving, a very low sodium product contains 35 mg or less per serving, and a sodium-free product contains less than 5 mg per serving (10).
The US Food & Drug Administration advises that products with 5% Daily Value (DV) or less of sodium, equating to 115 mg for an individual whose daily intake is 2,300 calories, can be considered low sodium (11).
Unfortunately, the majority of Burger King’s menu options do not qualify for the low-sodium title but there are options that are under the ideal limit of 1,500 mg of sodium.
Low Sodium Burger King Breakfast
- 3 French toast sticks: 312.7 mg or 14% DV ( this is also low in unhealthy fats and cholesterol)
- Egg & Cheese English Muffin: 497.8 mg or 22% DV (low in unhealthy fat, and also contains a decent amount of protein)
- Egg & Cheese Croissan’wich: 544.2 mg or 24% DV (low in unhealthy fat, and again decent amount of proteins but less fiber than the english muffin)
- Pancake platter: 602.7 mg or 26% DV (this choice is also low in unhealthy fats and cholesterol)
Low Sodium Burger King Lunch And Dinner
- Roadhouse Burger: 402.4 mg or 17% DV
- Whopper Jr: 570.9 mg or 25% DV (low in unhealthy fats and cholesterol, decent amount of protein)
- Garden Side Salad: 620.7 mg or 27% (low in saturated fat, no cholesterol, some fiber)
- Veggie Burger: 731 mg or 32% DV (low in unhealthy fats and cholesterol, decent amount of protein and fiber)
- Angry Cheeseburger: 732.5 mg or 32% DV (low in unhealthy fats and cholesterol, decent amount of protein)
Low Sodium Burger King Kids Meals
- Hamburger: 551.9 mg or 24% DV (low in unhealthy fats and cholesterol, decent amount of protein)
- 4pc Chicken Nuggets: 689.8 mg or 30%
- Cheeseburger: 731.9 mg or 32% (low in unhealthy fats and cholesterol, decent amount of protein)
Even though these items are in Kids Meals, they are great low-sodium for adults so don’t hesitate to try them out!
What You Should Avoid At Burger King
The majority of the menu options exceed the ideal daily limit of 1,500 mg. Within those options, there are a few that exceed the AHA’s recommended daily limit of 2,300 mg in just one food item! They are:
- BBQ Bacon King: 2,371.1 mg
- Bacon king: 2,377.7 mg
- Roadhouse King: 2,402.9 mg
- Angry Poutine: 2,540 mg
- Roadhouse Crispy Chicken Sandwich: 2,653.4 mg
- Poutine with Bacon: 3,104.6 mg
- Medium Hash Browns: 4,323.3 mg
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the lowest sodium item at Burger King?
The lowest sodium item at Burger King is all items from the Sweets section. These contain no more than 300 mg of sodium per item. Thus, you don’t have to worry about the dessert adding to your daily sodium intake and still be able to enjoy a sweet treat.
What is the healthiest thing on Burger King’s menu?
The healthiest item on Burger King’s menu is arguably the Roadhouse Burger. It is one of a few burgers that have a relatively low amount of sodium. This delicious burger is also low in calories, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol while providing a decent amount of proteins.
To make this even healthier, you can add in vegetables (onions, tomatoes, lettuce, etc.) or pair it with the Garden Side Salad.
Can you get Burger King fries without salt?
Yes, you can enjoy Burger King’s classic fries without any salt added. Ask your cashier or note in your mobile app to order for no salt.
Can you order a burger with no salt?
The burger patty is not made fresh so it’s impossible to ask for no salt in the patty. However, you can still ask for no salt and they will not add any additional sodium.
How much sodium is in Burger King onion rings?
There is 880.2 mg of sodium or 38% DV in a medium portion of onion rings contains.
How much sodium in Burger King fries?
A medium portion of French fries contains 619.2 mg of sodium or 27% DV.
Tips On Lowering Sodium When Eating At Fast Food Restaurants
Besides reading the nutrition information the restaurant provides, there are other tips and tricks for when you want to eat out on a low-sodium diet.
Watch The Size When You Order
Some menu items have different sizes (small vs medium, single vs double) to choose from and the bigger the portion, the more sodium the item contains. Opt for smaller sizes or split your meal into smaller portions to lower the sodium content of one meal.
Burger King has provided a PDF of nutrition facts for their menu items that you could use for comparison.
Customize Your Order
Customizing your order can lower your sodium intake while enhancing your meal with other nutrients.
You can pass over toppings such as pickles, cheese, processed meat (bacon, sausage, hot dogs, deli 5 Delicious Alternatives to Deli Meat You Will Love meat), and condiments as they tend to be high in sodium. You can also ask for condiments and salad dressing on the side for some control over the amount consumed.
Don’t forget to accompany your meal with some vegetables, for example adding tomato, lettuce, and onions to your burger or getting a salad. Vegetables are naturally low in sodium and fiber can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol.
You can also pair your meal with milk for a boost of protein or calorie-free beverages such as water or unsweetened coffee.
Ask For Menu Items To Be “Unsalted”
Don’t hesitate to ask for no salt to be added to your order. Depending on the restaurants and menu items, it is plausible to ask for no salt to be added, why not try?
Looking for other tips on eating out? Check out my blog post on the Mediterranean diet eating out. Or try to add foods that will unclog arteries and lower blood pressure when possible.
Top 3 Healthy Menu Options At Burger King
The first healthy option is the Roadhouse Burger which we have discussed above.
The second option is the Egg & Cheese English Muffin which is low in unhealthy fat and some protein. The English muffin provides selenium which is associated with a reduction in heart disease and manganese which play a part in protecting against hypertension (12, 13).
The third healthy option is the classic Hamburger which has a similar nutritional composition to the Roadhouse Burger. Additionally, the sesame on the buns provides magnesium that is involved in muscle contraction and generating heartbeats (14).
Fast foods shouldn’t be enjoyed on a regular basis as most items are high in sodium, unhealthy fats, and cholesterol which could negatively affect your heart health. But when you do, check out low-sodium options and tips mentioned above.
And if you are interested in other low sodium options check out my low sodium diet recipes, top 10 DASH diet cookbook or recommended low sodium cookbooks.
Or learn about what to order on the Tim Hortons Breakfast Menu, or for some low sodium Subway options.
This article was written by Shirley Le, Nutrition Student, and Veronica Rouse, MAN, RD, CDE.