What’s the ‘least unhealthy’ fast food?

McDonald's "Artisan Grilled Chicken" sandwich.
McDonald's "Artisan Grilled Chicken" sandwich. AP

Eating out and eating healthy are often mutually exclusive concepts, especially when it comes to fast food joints. I’ll admit that the last time I found myself in a certain fast food establishment I won’t name, I scanned the menu, looked at the (mandatory) calorie count and turned and walked out. Yes, the truth will sometimes make you lose your appetite and suck all of the fun out of it.

But there are some options that won’t exactly ruin you, according to one of my favorite websites to browse, Lifehacker. In a lengthy, very detailed story called “The Least Unhealthy Items at Seven Popular Fast Food Joints,” the life-improvement website has come up with options from some of the most notoriously unhealthy fast food companies, including McDonald’s, Taco Bell and KFC.

I have long been a fan of the Egg McMuffin (minus the cheese) as a decent pre-workout meal when I’m stuck. That didn’t make Lifehacker’s list, though the Egg White Delight McMuffin did, along with a sausage burrito, fruit and yogurt parfait and fruit and maple oatmeal.

For lunch and dinner, Lifehacker gives a passing grade to the basic (and tiny) hamburger, along with a side salad or the more satisfying Artisan Grilled Chicken Sandwich (yes, the word “artisan” is actually in the name, effectively rendering that word meaningless). It’s 360 calories and an impressively lean 6 grams of fat. The Big Mac, by comparison, is 530 calories and 27 grams of fat.

If you’re concerned you’re too skinny and your heart is overly robust, consider the the 20-piece Chicken McNuggets, which did not make the Lifeacker list, probably because of the 940 calories and 59 grams of fat.

Going onto Mickey D’s website to peruse the numbers taught me something else I didn’t know: they offer free wi-fi.

The article also gives a thumbs up to Taco Bell’s soft tacos and its new Fresco Menu, which has a line-up of healthy choices. KFC, which offers up fried chicken with eleven herbs and spices, has at least a few not unhealthy menu items, including the Kentucky Grilled Chicken, which Lifehacker calls “some of the most reasonable fast food out there.”

If you find yourself at Subway, limit yourself to the six-inch sub, even if the $5 price tag for a foot-long seems irresistibly affordable, because “they can be deceptively bad for you (despite Subway’s “healthy” marketing campaign). Andrew Wilder at Eating Rules notes that even a Veggie Delite without cheese starts at 540 calories and can have nearly 2400 mg of sodium.”

All those bread choices? Go with 9 grain or hearty Italian, advises Lifehacker.

Give the article a read and you’ll be more informed the next time your location or timing land you at a fast food joint. That Egg White Delight McMuffin is, of course, destined to become a classic, according to McDonald’s. I’m going to look up the word “classic” right after I finish writing this.

Blair Anthony Robertson: 916-321-1099, @Blarob