5 Salads Worse Than a Big Mac

5 times you're better off just ordering the fast food!5 times you're better off just ordering the fast food!by Elizabeth Goodman Artis

Salad. The word itself just sounds healthy: light, quick, easy to digest. But it's also taken on the so-called "health halo." Affix "salad" to anything and suddenly it becomes a good-for-you option, even if it's anything but. We asked Nicolette Pace, a registered dietitian at Nutrisource, Inc., a medical nutrition and weight loss center in Great Neck, NY, to describe five salads commonly found at fast food and restaurant chains, as well as diners and delis, that are actually worse, health-wise, than a Big Mac.

NOTE: For comparison's sake, a Big Mac has about 550 calories, 10g saturated fat, and 1000mg sodium.

1. Crispy Chicken Caeser Salad: Where You'll Find it: Au Bon Pain, Ruby Tuesdays, McDonalds, KFC, Chick-fil-A
Why it's Worse: Even before you add the salad dressing, which can clock in at 200 calories, this type of salad can easily reach 900-1000 calories due to the "crispy" (read: fried) chicken pieces. Add the creamy, cheese-packed dressing and the saturated fat can easily exceed 12 grams.

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2. Southwest Fiesta Salad: Where You'll Find it: Applebee's, Au Bon Pain, Chili's
Why it's Worse: Typically, this type of salad (which also may go by Santa Fe style or just "Fiesta") is essentially a deconstructed taco or burrito: loaded with cheese, rice, tortillas strips, not to mention add-ons like guac and sour cream, it can run anywhere from 800 to 1200 calories, 14g saturated fat, and more than 1400mg sodium.

3. Asian Grilled Chicken Salad: Where You'll Find it: Applebee's, Au Bon Pain
Why it's Worse: The name is deceptively healthy, but extras like fried noodles, almonds, and a sodium-packed Asian-style vinaigrette add up to sky high calories (about 1200), alarmingly high sodium (2000mg at Applebee's) and more than 12g saturated fat.

4. Buffalo Chicken Salad: Where You'll Find it: Chili's
Why it's Worse: Just like the bar food it's named for, this chicken and bleu cheese-laden salad is a calorie and sodium fest-more than 1200 calories and a whopping (and we mean whopping) 4320mg sodium in the Chili's version.

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5. Taco Salad: Where You'll Find it: Taco Bell, Del Taco, Pollo Loco
Why it's Worse: Like its cousin the Southwest Fiesta, this is no more than a taco turned inside out. In some ways it's even worse because you can fit so much more of those high-fat fillings-meat, cheese, sour cream-on plate than in a taco shell, spiking the calories, fat, and sodium counts: a Fiesta Taco Salad with beef at Taco Bell has 780 calories, 10g saturated fat, and more than 1300mg sodium.

Photo Credit: bonelesschickenrecipe.com

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