11 Popular Fast-Food Salads—Ranked by Sugar Content

11 Popular Fast-Food Salads—Ranked by Sugar Content When you think of sugary foods, salads surely aren’t the first to come to mind. Still, some fast-food salads can sneak in as much sugar as a candy bar or bowl of ice cream… or more. If you’re not careful with your selections, your seemingly healthy fast-food order can quickly rack up the calories coming from sugar. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting your added sugar intake to no more than 6% of your total calories each day. That works out to about 25 grams for women and 36 grams for men. Eating a diet high in added sugar can contribute to a higher risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, and other chronic illnesses. So if you’re going the extra mile and ordering a salad instead of a cheeseburger and fries at your favorite fast-food chain, you’ll also want to make sure the bowl of greens you’re choosing isn’t riddled with sugar. Check out the highest-sugar salads on restaurant menus below, and order these 10 Best Restaurant Salads to Order, According to Dietitians instead. Chopt Crispy Chicken Ranch With 10 grams of sugar, this Chopt salad isn’t the worst option on this list. Most of the sugars come from the fresh produce, including the corn, carrots, grape tomatoes, and pickled red onion. Just watch out for the dressing you choose to pair with this crispy chicken bowl – some of the higher-sugar options include most of the vinegar-based dressings and the vinaigrettes (like the Balsamic Vinegar, the Sweet and Smoky Chipotle Vinaigrette and the White Balsamic Vinaigrette). To keep your salad less sweet, opt for the Mexican Goddess or Chopt Vinaigrette, which both have zero grams of sugar. Culver’s Bacon Bleu Salad With Vinaigrette Culver’s packs its salad with grilled chicken, bacon bits, and bleu cheese crumbles, but the sugar comes from what they call a “generous helping” of dried cranberries. While dried cranberries serve up antioxidants, they’re also high in sugar because manufacturers add sugar to help mask the berry’s naturally tart flavor and increase palatability. Fresh fruit is always a better bet because it’s less calorie-dense and contains less sugar per calorie. Sweetgreen Garden Cobb America’s favorite salad chain serves up a commendable selection of fresh, delicious, and locally sourced ingredients. That doesn’t necessarily mean that all their salads will align with your personal health goals. Sweetgreen’s twist on the classic Cobb salad contains 14 grams of sugar, which is more than half of your daily value. However, it admirably contains more fiber than sugar — and we love to see that because fiber works to steady your blood glucose levels. That means your blood sugar is less likely to spike and then crash, leading to energy dips and cravings later in the day. Sweetgreen Harvest Bowl Sweetgreen’s harvest bowl is studded with roasted sweet potatoes, apples, goat cheese, roasted almonds, and wild rice, and basically screams “fall.” While it doesn’t have quite as much sugar as a PSL, 15 grams is still pretty high, contributing more than half of your daily value. The balsamic vinaigrette dressing alone contributes 3 grams of sugar, so try swapping it out for the Caesar dressing or the Lime Cilantro Jalapeño Vinaigrette, which are both free of sugar. Wendy’s Taco Salad If your goal is to make taco Tuesdays a bit healthier, this Wendy’s salad isn’t the best bet. It’s made with romaine lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, tortilla chips, and the chain’s hearty chili. Let’s zoom in on the chili: The second ingredient in it is sugar, which contributes to most of the 16 total grams in the entire bowl. But we do like that this salad is high in fiber, providing 12 grams (which is about half of your recommended daily value) to help stabilize blood sugar levels and keep cravings at bay. Sweetgreen Super Green Goddess Salad Most of the sugar in this salad comes from the diced apples, a natural and nutrient-dense source of the sweet stuff. So while this salad is higher in sugar than other options at Sweetgreen, it also helps you hit your daily fruit goal with a healthy serving of fresh apples. Plus, this Sweetgreen salad contains a respectable 15 grams of fiber. Wendy’s Apple Pecan Salad Just like Sweetgreen’s Super Green Goddess salad, this pick is packed with apples, a source of natural sugar. However, this Wendy’s salad also contains dried cranberries, sugar-coated roasted pecans, and a syrupy pomegranate vinaigrette dressing that contributes unnecessary added sugars to your meal. You can easily improve this salad’s nutritional profile by doing without either the pecans or cranberries and skipping the vinaigrette. Panera Fuji Apple Salad With Chicken You’d be surprised to find out that most of the sugar in Panera’s Fuji Apple Salad doesn’t come from the apples. In fact, the popular salad and sandwich chain uses no-added-sugar apple chips in this bowl of greens for subtle sweetness and a whole lotta crunch. The majority of the added sugar comes from the white balsamic vinaigrette dressing, so swapping that sauce out can save you loads of added sugar. Chick-fil-A Market Salad This Chick-fil-A salad contains as much sugar as a Snickers bar. Sure, it’s brimming with fresh fruit including red and green apples, strawberries and blueberries but it also comes with the chain’s Harvest Nut Granola. And while we’re intrigued by the idea of adding granola to salad for crunch, this unnecessary topping contributes added sugars, so you’re better off skipping it. Subway Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Salad Subway lets you turn your favorite sub into a salad by piling the sandwich’s toppings onto a bed of greens. Subway’s Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Chicken is one of those classic, always-good choices, but it’s also swimming in sugar. So much so that this salad contains a staggering 31 grams of sugar — that’s more than a full cup of vanilla ice cream. Instead of going for the sweet teriyaki-slathered chicken, top your salad with a lean protein, such as grilled chicken or roasted turkey breast. Chopt Sweet Apple Orchard Salad Who would’ve thought that ordering a fresh salad for lunch could put you over your maximum sugar quota for the day? Chopt Sweet Apple Orchard Salad dumps an entire serving of sweetened cranberries onto its salad — and it turns out that the cranberries alone contribute a whopping 31 grams of added sugar. Skip the cranberries and add a serving of grilled chicken to this salad, and you’ve got yourself a pretty healthy lunch that’ll hold you over without giving you the equivalent of 1.5 cups of ice cream’s worth of sugar.

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