Order This, Not That: Wendy's

by in Dining Out, Healthy Tips, July 21, 2009

wendyschili_lead
Are all fast-food burger joints created equal, or does Wendy’s live up to its claim to be “waaayy better than fast food”? (Sorry, but a bacon cheeseburger still isn’t a good choice.)

ORDER: Simple and Fresh
Basic salads, such as the Mandarin Chicken or Chicken Caesar, have between 200 to 300 calories even with their special dressings. Opt out of extra toppings like crispy noodles and garlic croutons to save 70 calories and 2.5 grams of fat. Even better, pass on regular dressings, and go for the light or fat-free options instead.

You don’t see a lot of baked potatoes on fast food menus, but they’ve been a staple at Wendy’s for years. With 270 calories (without toppings), a potato and a side salad make for a well-rounded meal. Chili is also a unique offering but stick to the small size. The large cup of chili has only 280 calories but 1240 milligrams of sodium –- that’s more than half of the daily recommendation of salt.

If you’re in the mood for a sandwich or burger, the Jr. Hamburger is the best option with 230 calories, 8 grams of fat and just under 500 milligrams of sodium. Or make a meal out of the Grilled Chicken Go Wrap, which has 250 calories, 10 grams of fat and 730 milligrams of sodium.

NOT: Everything Burgers, Boneless Wings and Frozen Treats
The Triple Burger with Everything and Cheese tips the scale at 970 calories, 60 grams of fat (including 27 grams of saturated and 3.5 grams of trans fat) and 2,010 milligrams of sodium. The Baconator burger (that name just bothers me) isn’t much better with 870 calories and 51 grams of fat. Of course, it’s easy to figure out that you shouldn’t order a triple cheeseburger. The Chicken Club Sandwich might seem like a light choice, but stay away — it still packs 550 calories and 26 grams of fat.

I’ve seen a lot of commercials lately for their new boneless wings. Whether you’re eying the Bold Buffalo (520 calories), Honey BBQ (580 calories) or Sweet & Spicy Asian (550 calories), none of them are a healthy choice. Each serving has 18 grams of fat and somewhere between 1990 and 2630 milligrams of sodium –- not to mention a laundry list of preservatives, according to the ingredient info.

And what about Wendy’s signature Frosty dessert? A small Chocolate Frosty has 320 calories and 8 grams of fat, which is enough for a meal. I remember when there was just one kind of Frosty -– now there are all kinds of choices, many with added cookies and candy that only jack up the calorie and fat totals. You’re better off enjoying a small serving of chocolate ice cream from your home freezer.

We have some kudos for Wendy’s: They’re conscientious about noting potential food allergens and providing a list of ingredients for all their menu items. You can look all that up at their site.

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