12 Healthy Food Options You Can Find At McDonald's

It's no secret that McDonald's is a celebrated fast-food restaurant with chains all over the world. However, it isn't generally associated with a healthy lifestyle, to say the least. Yet, over the years, the fast-food franchise has made an effort to add nutritious options to its menu. Unfortunately, many of those items have come and gone when McDonald's reduced its menu during the pandemic, eliminating a majority of its previously-added healthy options. Salads, the Egg White Delight McMuffin, fruit and yogurt parfaits, artisan grilled chicken sandwiches, and other health-conscious options which were part of the beloved pre-pandemic menu are no longer being served. 

We're not sure when or if they'll return, so the following McDonald's healthy food options aren't necessarily as healthy as they once were. Take these items with a grain of salt ... or don't since too much sodium isn't typically part of a healthy diet. Nevertheless, McDonald's is a fast-food gift that keeps on giving. Many foods are fine in moderation, including this list of healthy options you can find at the Golden Arches right now.

1. Apple slices

Although they can't be considered as a full meal, McDonald's apple slices are a healthy side that could adequately accompany any entrée –– whether it's breakfast, lunch, or dinner. According to WebMD, apples can help slow digestion which prevents overeating. The source adds that they contain antioxidants that can help slow the growth of cancer cells –– and that's just scratching the surface of the benefits that apples bring to the table.

As for the portion provided, each bag contains 15 calories, 4 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of sugar. If you're craving a McDonald's meal, then might we recommend substituting the fries for a side of apples the next time you roll through the drive-thru? Given the low-calorie content, a few bags of apple slices isn't even out of the question. 

2. Chicken McNuggets

We know what you're thinking ... McDonald's chicken McNuggets are breaded and fried, elements that are associated with unhealthy food. In moderation, these chicken nuggets will bring some serious nutritional value to the table, whether you dine-in or bring your order to your home table. Plus, the McDonald's website states that its nuggets "are made with 100% white meat chicken and no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives."

In terms of nutritional information, a four-piece order has 170 calories and 9 grams of protein, making this a light meal that's packed with some macro power. Of course, four nuggets also contain 10 grams of both fat and carbs, and they're not necessarily light on cholesterol or sodium. As we said, most foods are okay in moderation, and that rings especially true for chicken McNuggets. Beware about adding too much sauce, which is far easier said than done since McDonald's sauces are extra tempting.

3. Deluxe crispy chicken sandwich

Although the deluxe crispy chicken sandwich is undoubtedly delicious, it is fried and served on a sizable bun. Over the years, health-conscious people have been predisposed to loathe fried foods and buns (unless they're whole wheat). That said, this all-star chicken sandwich features a potato roll, accompanied by Roma tomatoes and shredded lettuce. 

By itself, it can easily be a meal and at 530 calories, it won't break the calorie bank. The deluxe crispy chicken sandwich also has a whopping 27 grams of protein so it might as well be a protein shake, only savory and satisfying by itself. Nevertheless, it also has 26 grams of fat, 47 grams of carbs, and 10 grams of sugar. This crispy chicken sandwich is a total winner if you're looking for a healthier option yet still want a mouth-watering and hearty fast-food meal.

4. Egg McMuffin

The egg McMuffin is a McDonald's classic. It's also low in calories (310), high in protein (17 grams per sandwich), and has 2 grams of fiber for good measure. Yet it also contains 13 grams of fat, 30 grams of carbs, and 3 grams of sugar. In terms of breakfast sandwiches at the Golden Arches, the egg McMuffin is one of the healthier and lower-calorie options. Did we mention it's delectable? Given the low calories, we wouldn't blame people if they just so happened to order two egg McMuffins. Just think, that would only be 620 calories and you'd be getting 34 grams of protein.

During a time when people are rightfully concerned about the ingredients in their food and what they put in their bodies, people can rest assured that the savory egg McMuffin only contains six basic ingredients: an English muffin, an egg, Canadian bacon, pasteurized processed American cheese, salted butter, and clarified butter. Of course, there are additional ingredients in an English muffin and processed cheese, but we digress.

5. Filet-O-Fish

Yes, McDonald's has a fish sandwich and it actually tastes amazing as the fish flavor is subtle. Enter the Filet-O-Fish, a low-calorie menu item that's worth the hype. Believe it or not dear readers, this McDonald's staple is actually made out of real fish. This sandwich contains a fish filet patty, a regular bun, tartar sauce, and half a slice of pasteurized processed American cheese. All this goodness leads to 380 delightful calories, 18 grams of fat, 39 grams of carbs, 16 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of sugar.

Though tartar sauce and fish are a perfect match made in the kitchen, if you want to drop some sodium and make this sandwich a bit healthier, you can opt for no tartar sauce. Even though the McDonald's menu has been minimized, the Filet-O-Fish is still a low-calorie and high protein option. For many people who need a quick bite on the go, that's a major benefit. 

6. Fruit & maple oatmeal

For years, people have been singing the praises of fruit and oatmeal –– and for good reason. Naturally, McDonald's combined the two and added the fruit & maple oatmeal item to its menu. "Our Fruit and Maple Oatmeal has two full servings of whole-grain oats with a touch of cream and brown sugar. Loaded with red and green apples, cranberries, and two varieties of raisins, our oatmeal makes for a hearty, wholesome breakfast of whole grains and fruit," (via McDonald's). 

Needless to say, this isn't your typical fast-food breakfast and it's loaded with elements that scream "healthy lifestyle." In terms of nutrition, this oatmeal contains 320 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 64 grams of carbs, and 6 grams of protein. It also has 4 grams of fiber and 31 grams of sugar. Given the high sugar content, this isn't a perfect meal per se, yet it does provide plenty of health benefits given the oatmeal and fruit.

7. Hamburger

A McDonald's hamburger might sound plain and simple (where's the cheese?), but don't knock it until you try it. This bad boy consists of a regular bun, a 100% beef patty, ketchup, pickle slices, onions, and mustard. Best of all –– aside from the taste –– it only contains 250 calories. It's also accompanied by 9 grams of fat, 31 grams of carbs, 12 grams of protein, 1 gram of fiber, and 6 grams of sugar. You could knock down the sugar a bit by asking for no ketchup, though it's not like the burger is overloaded with the sauce.

Given there are only 250 calories in this burger, might we suggest ordering two hamburgers the next time you venture to McDonald's? While you could certainly add cheese, doing so would raise the calories and other nutritional marks. However, according to McDonald's, their cheeseburger has 3 more grams of protein than the hamburger –– in case you were wondering.

8. Hash brown

A single hash brown isn't typically considered a full meal, yet this delicious item just so happens to be one of the healthier options on the McDonald's menu. The minimal calorie count is in part responsible –– according to the McDonald's website, there are only 140 calories in each hash brown. This version of the hash brown also contains 8 grams of fat, 18 grams of carbs, 2 grams of protein, and 2 grams of fiber.

Although this menu item is more of a breakfast side than a full meal, it's reassuring that it provides some nutritional value without breaking the daily calorie mark. And when made to perfection, it's crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside –– just as McDonald's intends its hash browns to be. While it might be better to opt for apple slices on the side, if you're craving a savory item, then the hash brown is always a marvelous option.

9. McChicken

The McChicken is worth every penny, though when it's available, the Hot 'n Spicy should be the go-to option. The McChicken is made up of a breaded chicken patty, a regular bun, shredded lettuce, and mayonnaise. The mayonnaise is a nice touch, as all sandwiches deserve to be lathered in a well-matched sauce –– yet if you want to make this sandwich a tad healthier, then you could always request no mayo.

Like many of McDonald's' current healthy options, the McChicken is a good choice because it's low in calories, coming in at 400 calories per sandwich –– and that's with the mayo. While it packs in 14 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber, it's also important to point out that the McChicken contains 21 grams of fat, 39 grams of carbs, and 5 grams of sugar. There are so many factors that go into a healthy lifestyle, and though the McChicken isn't a perfect option, it's low in calories and high in protein, which is a good place to start.

10. Sausage burrito

The sausage burrito is wrapped in a flour tortilla, which isn't always associated with a healthy diet, but it's a low-calorie item that does have other health benefits. After all, this breakfast burrito contains a scrambled egg, sausage, and vegetables, as well as a slice of pasteurized processed American cheese. One burrito will only put you back 310 calories, and you'll benefit from 13 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber. On the flip side, the sausage burrito also contains 17 grams of fat, 25 grams of carbs, and 2 grams of sugar. Yet the egg and vegetable mix make this a worthwhile meal and simply put, the flour tortilla and cheese make it utterly delicious. Having the willpower to order just one burrito is a feat in itself, yet don't feel guilty if you happen to order two as that's only a combined 620 calories and you'll get 26 grams of protein.

11. Sausage McMuffin

Perhaps surprisingly, the sausage McMuffin doesn't need an egg to make it whole. This breakfast sandwich is rather delicious with or without an egg as it already contains an English muffin, a sausage patty, a slice of pasteurized processed American cheese, and salted butter. This combination results in 400 calories, 26 grams of fat, 29 grams of carbs, 14 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and 2 grams of sugar.

However, if you opt for a sausage McMuffin with egg, then the calories shoot up to 480, which is still reasonable. If you're focused on low-calorie items that pack some protein, then there are plenty of foods to choose from on the McDonald's breakfast menu, yet the sausage McMuffin is as good a choice as any. Adding a side hash brown will make your meal a total of 540 calories, though macros like carbs will also go up.

12. Select sandwiches without a bun

When it comes to a healthy diet, there are many elements to consider since there are no one-size-fits-all answers. All the same, there are countless ways to achieve a healthy lifestyle, including low-carb diets. If you find yourself in a crunch but still want to abide by your low-carb ways, then McDonald's can be a good solution –– if you order a sandwich without the bun, that is.

Whether you follow a specific diet or not, ordering select sandwiches without a bun can help reduce the carbs and make them healthier options. Might we suggest a Big Mac or Quarter Pounder with cheese? A Big Mac contains 25 grams of protein and a Quarter Pounder with cheese contains 30 — if you're extra hungry order a Double Quarter Pounder with cheese and fill up with 48 grams of protein.

Fast-food restaurants might not be known for their healthy menu items, but there's typically always something to order if you're willing to bend your diet just a tad. Mostly, you'll find various low-calorie options available at these food franchises, and McDonald's is no exception.