When you think of healthy foods, you don't necessarily think of fast-food restaurants. Fast food can get a negative reputation for being low-quality, having minimal nutritional value, and just being overall unhealthy. However, not all fast-food establishments should be thrown under the bus. Many times, you can find a well-balanced meal—you just need to know where to look.
Although it might be best to steer clear of certain fast-food restaurants, there are others that can really help you on whichever health journey you're taking. According to Amy Shapiro MS, RD, and member of our Medical Expert Board, the healthiest fast-food restaurant you can visit is Chipotle Mexican Grill.
"Chipotle is the healthiest fast food chain in my opinion," says Shapiro.
This Mexican-inspired food fast-casual dining spot allows you to customize your order, which makes it easy to find options that cater to your dieting needs.
"You can order to fit any diet including vegan, paleo, gluten-free, keto, low calorie, low carb, high protein, etc," explains Shapiro.
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Not only can the meals meet many dietary restrictions, but the ingredients are high quality.
"Additionally, the chain itself uses no artificial ingredients or preservatives," explains Shapiro. "You can't go wrong with that!"
Along with their no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives motto, Chipotle also makes it known that they do not use freezers, can openers, or "shortcuts" when making their food.
According to Chipotle, the company only uses 53 ingredients when cooking. Their website displays all ingredients and will tell you the recipe of how each food item is made.
For example, if you add protein to your meal (which has no added hormones, ever, by the way), the website displays all you need to know. This includes the seasonings, spices, and additional cooking ingredients they use on the specific protein along with all the nutrition information.
This layout makes it very efficient for customers to plan their meals ahead of time. And, it lets them know exactly what they are eating with full transparency.
The menu can be overwhelming if you don't know where to start, which is why Shapiro has some suggestions.
"I like to order a salad bowl there with chicken, extra vegetables, beans, and guacamole," she says. "I skip the simple carbs like chips, tortillas, and rice and avoid high saturated fat ingredients including sour cream and cheese. This makes for a great road trip pit stop or healthy meal any time."