Do you love McDonalds, but have high blood pressure? Are you looking for low sodium McDonalds options? Then if so, you are in the right place!
Fast food places like McDonald’s saves time from cooking meals at home and is easy to take on the go on a busy day.
However, there are growing concerns about fast food and its impact on our health. McDonald’s food is highly processed and is high in saturated fat and sodium. Regular consumption of fast food is also linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Therefore, it is important to find ways to reduce your sodium intake to achieve optimal heart health.
If you are looking for low-sodium McDonalds options, keep on reading!
- Sodium And Fast Food
- Sodium And Health
- How Much Sodium Per Day?
- Where Can You Find Nutrition Information At McDonalds
- Is McDonald’s A Low Sodium Choice?
- Low Sodium Food At McDonalds – Breakfast
- Low Sodium Food At McDonald’s Lunch And Dinner Options
- McDonalds Low Sodium Kids Meals
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Tips On Lowering Sodium When Eating At Fast Food Restaurants
- What Does a Heart Dietitian Order At McDonalds (Video)
- Top 3 Healthy Menu Options At McDonalds
- Other Low Sodium Articles
- Final Thoughts
Sodium And Fast Food
Fast food restaurants are popular more than ever and have become a staple in the modern diet. Sodium helps enhance the flavor of fast-food items and is used as a preservative, which makes their food quite delicious, but unfortunately, many of their food items are high in sodium and saturated fats.
According to Heart and Stroke, around 80% of sodium we consume is from processed foods, including fast food (1).
Sodium plays an important role in maintaining our fluid balance, our blood pressure and is important for our nerve and muscle function.
However, consuming high amounts of sodium does have negative effects on our health. This can range from short-term effects like severe thirst, bloating, and nausea to long-term effects such as kidney disease, hypertension, and heart disease.
It affects your heart because your kidneys need to maintain a balance of water and sodium in your body. When excess sodium is consumed, the kidneys retain excess water to balance the higher amounts of sodium consumed.
The excess water increases the blood volume in the bloodstream, which can increase the pressure on your arteries and vessels and therefore your blood pressure. This means that your heart has to work harder to pump blood throughout your entire body.
Thus, a low sodium diet is very important if heart health is one of your nutrition goals.
Our bodies only need a small amount of sodium to function properly,
According to the FDA, the recommended sodium intake for adults is below 2,300 mg, which is equivalent to 1 teaspoon of sodium (2). However, the American Heart Association suggests keeping your sodium intake at 1,500 mg for optimal heart health (3).
The problem is, we may be unaware of the high levels of sodium we are consuming.
Great news! The nutritional information can be found on the McDonald’s website (4).
Click “Nutrition” at the top left of their website and scroll down to select which food item you are looking for. All of their food items are organized into categories such as “Breakfast” and “Beef” for easy navigation. Nutrition facts and ingredients are displayed for each food item.
The website even allows you to customize your sandwich to fit your food preferences and dietary needs. Simply, click on the food item that you are interested in, scroll to the bottom, and click “Edit Ingredients”.
Looking to get a hamburger with no pickles? The website will adjust the number of calories, sodium, protein, fats, and other nutrients accordingly.
Nutrition information can also be found on their app so that it is convenient for you to look at when you are on the go. They may also have a large poster as well as pamphlets of their nutrition facts around the restaurant. If you don’t see it, just ask!
A great way to identify if a food is low in sodium is using the percent daily value.
The percent Daily Value is a nutritional labeling system used on food labels in the United States and Canada to provide consumers with information about the nutrient content of a particular food product. It is based on a daily intake of 2,000 calories and 2300mg of sodium, which is the reference amount used for nutrition labeling.
Low sodium choice is considered a food item with a 5% daily value or less of sodium per serving, while a high sodium choice is considered a food item with a 20% daily value or more of sodium per serving (5).
Unfortunately, most McDonald’s food items contain a 20% daily value or more of sodium per serving. However, there are still some options on their menu that have a 20% daily value or less of sodium.
McDonald’s offers various food options on their menu, but are any of the items considered a low-sodium choice?
Let’s take a look at the nutrition facts between a hamburger and a Quarter Pounder with cheese:
|Hamburger||Quarter Pounder with Cheese|
|Sodium||490 mg (21% DV)||1050 mg (46% DV)|
Table 1: Comparison of sodium in a hamburger vs quarter pounder with cheese (4)
As seen in the table above, the Quarter Pounder contains twice as much sodium as a hamburger.
In fact, a quarter pounder is almost 50% of your recommended sodium for the day. This leaves very little room for other foods throughout the day.
|Food Item||Sodium Content||Other Benefits|
|Egg McMuffin||750 mg (33% DV)||-relatively low in saturated fat to help manage cholesterol levels-low in calories for weight management-good amount of protein to keep you full and satisfied in the morning|
|Burrito||570 mg (25% DV)||contains green peppers and onions which adds fiber to your diet-low in calories for weight management-adequate amount of protein|
|Everything Bagel with Butter||340 mg (15% DV)||-sesame seeds on bagel provide fiber, and heart healthy unsaturated fats-relatively low in saturated fat to help manage cholesterol levels|
Table 2: Comparison of low sodium breakfast options at McDonalds (4)
|Food Item||Sodium Content||Other Benefits|
|Hamburger||490 mg (21% DV)||-low in calories for weight management-adequate amount of protein to feel full|
|Filet-o-fish||570 mg (25 % DV)||-adequate amount of protein to promote satiety-provides some unsaturated fats which can be beneficial for the heart and brain|
|6 Piece Chicken Nuggets||450 mg (20% DV)||-low in saturated fats for cholesterol management-adequate amount of protein for fullness and satiety|
|McChicken||650 mg (28% DV)||– good amount of protein for satiety – lower in saturated fat than beef hamburger|
|Ranch Chicken Snack Wrap with Grilled Chicken||420mg (18% DV)||-relatively low in saturated fat to help manage dietary cholesterol-good amount of protein for satiety|
Table 3: Comparison of low sodium options (lunch and dinner) at McDonalds (4)
Here are three low sodium fast food McDonald’s kids’ meal options that have the least amount of sodium:
- A Happy Meal Snack Wrap with Grilled Chicken has 320 mg (14% DV) of sodium.
- The 4-piece chicken McNugget Meal has 430 mg (18% DV) of sodium.
- A Hamburger Happy Meal has 620 mg (26% DV) of sodium.
Low sodium McDonalds ids meals are also a great choice for adults as they are lower in sodium and are a lower portion size.
Pair the low sodium McDonalds kid’s meal with a bottle of water or white milk and substitute the french fries for apple slices for a well-balanced meal.
Here is a list of food items at McDonald’s that contain the most amount of sodium:
|Food Item||Sodium Content|
|20 Piece Nuggets||1490 mg|
|Sausage Egg and Cheese McGriddle||1360 mg|
|Double Quarter Pounder BLT||1300 mg|
|Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese||1210 mg|
|Double Big Mac||1020 mg|
Table 4: Comparison of McDonald’s menu items with the most amount of sodium at McDonalds (4)
The McDonald’s item with the least amount of sodium are any of the sides such as their apple slices and small and medium fries, which contain less than 300 mg of sodium. Other items that are relatively low in sodium would include some uncommon items on their menu such as an English Muffin with butter, which has only 280 mg of sodium.
In the past they had a fruit cup and yogurt parfait which were also excellent low-sodium foods.
Yes, you can ask for no salt at McDonalds.
The healthiest McDonald’s option would be an Egg McMuffin. This is because it is relatively low in calories for weight management, rich in unsaturated fats for heart health and contains a good amount of protein. Overall, a balanced amount of macronutrients.
The Egg McMuffin also contains some important nutrients such as calcium, selenium and manganese, which help reduce inflammation and are beneficial for heart health.
The Egg McMuffin is a great way to keep you full and satisfied on a busy morning.
McDonald’s is high in sodium. However, it does offer some low-sodium options on their menu. Overall, it is important to be mindful of your sodium intake when ordering at fast-food restaurants. Read below for some tips and tricks on how to reduce your sodium intake when eating at fast food restaurants.
Sometimes it can be challenging to lower your sodium intake when eating at fast-food restaurants as most of their items are high in sodium, but here are a few simple ways to do so.
McDonald’s offers different sizing options for some of their food items like their drinks and fries. Avoid supersizing your meal and choose a smaller size to help significantly reduce your sodium intake.
Consider choosing a smaller sandwich like a hamburger rather than a big sandwich like a Big Mac.
Another example is a large fry, which contains 420 mg of sodium, can be substituted for a small fry, which contains 180 mg of sodium.
Orders can be customized so that you can hold back on high-sodium condiments and toppings and add more nutrients to your diet.
McDonald’s uses cheese on most of their food items which is high in sodium and saturated fats which can increase your cholesterol, blood pressure and risk of heart disease. Therefore, it is best to hold the cheese.
Other toppings like pickles and bacon as well as condiments like ketchup, mustard, and Big Mac sauce are quite high in sodium and saturated fats. It is best to limit your intake of these toppings too.
Another great tip is to substitute crispy chicken for grilled chicken on your wrap for a healthier option. Grilled chicken is lower in calories, saturated fat and sodium and it is not prepared in oil, unlike crispy chicken.
And finally, vegetables like tomatoes, dehydrated onions, and shredded lettuce can increase your fiber intake and are a great source of vitamins and minerals. So don’t forget to add extra to your sandwich or order a side salad.
Feel free to ask for unsalted fries. It also doesn’t hurt to ask the employees for other unsalted items on their menu.
Top 3 Healthy Menu Options At McDonalds
You may be wondering if there is a healthy option to order at McDonalds. Well you are in luck! I have three best options to suggest. These low sodium McDonalds meals considering lheart healthy nutrients.
One of the healthiest menu options would be an Egg McMuffin as stated above as it is a great breakfast option.
#2 Ranch Chicken Snack Wrap With Grilled Chicken
The Ranch Chicken Snack Wrap with Grilled Chicken provides a good amount of protein, is low in cholesterol and is small in portion size.
The grilled chicken contains a significant amount of unsaturated fat and contains less sodium than crispy chicken. Feel free to add extra vegetables to your wrap to add more fiber nutrients to your diet.
A classic hamburger is low in calories, contains a good amount of protein and is small in portion size. It is also low in cholesterol and saturated fat, which is beneficial for heart health.
Other Low Sodium Articles
Although McDonald’s is such a convenient option for everyone, it is not recommended to eat there on a daily basis. Most of their food items are high in sodium and saturated fats which can increase your cholesterol and risk of heart disease.
If you are planning to go to McDonald’s for your next meal and you are on a low-sodium diet, consider these low-sodium McDonald’s options and tips on how to lower your salt intake at fast food restaurants.
Interested in other low-sodium fast food options? Check out my blog post on the Mediterranean diet eating out. Low Sodium Burger King Options, Low Sodium Subway Options, or Top 5 Picks On The Tim Hortons Breakfast Menu.
Tell me below – when you consider low sodium at McDonalds, what are you going to order?