A proper heart-healthy diet contains whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, and lean protein, which differs significantly from the usual menu’s offerings in terms of fast food. However, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you won’t be able to find heart-healthy options at popular chains.
In reality, many fast-food chains are becoming more conscious of the need to especially deliver food with taking care of heart health because most Americans would like to eat healthier.
Fear not if you’re sick of squinting at a drive-through menu and racking your brain for ideas. We’ve compiled a list of some fast-food dishes that dietitians claim are genuinely heart-healthy.
- DIY Pizza at Blaze Pizza
Julie Chudak, RDN, CPT, CLT, of Lifelong Nutrition and Fitness, says, “You can go down the line of DIY Pizza at Blaze Pizza and build your own pizza.” There are endless veggie and seasonal veggie options. As there is an option to make your own pie, prefer leafy greens like fresh spinach, containing plenty of potassium and nitrates. Potassium helps balance the effects of sodium, while nitrates regulate blood pressure.
If you dislike many toppings of veggies on pizza, you can enjoy them in a salad. Moreover, you also have a choice to Take-Two option, where you can do a half order of pizza and a salad. Some of Blaze’s toppings are high in sugar and saturated fat, so you can go with this dressing.
- Lifestyle Bowls at Chipotle
Sharon Puello, MA, RD, CDN, CDCES, of F.R.E.S.H. Nutrition says that those looking to dine out and also considering heart-healthy choices can make an excellent selection by going to the Lifestyle Bowls. It has two options Whole30 and Paleo, for a healthy heart. These two options follow the whole foods approach, which helps reduce systemic inflammation, a known cause of cardiac plaques.
The Lifestyle Bowls meals also provide heart-healthy fats. To improve lipid particle size, a measure of risk for heart disease, intaking sufficient dietary fat while minimizing highly processed carbs. Additionally, the products included in these meals (cooked onion, salsa, etc.) provide nutrients beneficial for heart health, such as quercetin and lycopene.
- Fruit and Maple Oatmeal at McDonald’s
For having a heart-healthy breakfast, McDonald’s for its fruit and maple oatmeal, says Patricia Kolesa, MS, RDN. She suggests, ‘Oatmeal contains fiber, which helps lower cholesterol.” Additionally, this breakfast also contributes fiber with its fresh apple slices at the top (a total of 4 grams). It will also help lower overall inflammation by providing antioxidants. This cup of breakfast contains a total of 320 calories.
- DIY Taco Bowl at Qdoba
Making your own fast-food meal allows you to control which heart-healthy ingredients to add and which to leave. At DIY Taco Bowl at Qdoba, consider choosing lettuce, brown rice, beans, and avocado for heart-healthy fiber and unsaturated fats. Also, limit the animal proteins and cheese sauce, as they are higher in sodium and less healthy saturated fats.
- Chickpea and Avocado Protein Box at Starbucks
The Heart Dietitian Veronica Rouse, RD, MAN says, it’s difficult to find anything wrong with chickpea Bites and Avocado Protein Box from Starbucks because it includes baby carrots, snap peas, falafel-style nibbles, and an avocado spread. She also suggests Starbucks’ cheese and fruit protein box and PB & J protein box. “This box has cheese, legumes, nuts, or seeds which is a satisfactory source of heart-healthy protein. Fruit and vegetables are also present, and they are all packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Additionally, they frequently include additional treats with fiber to keep you full. Finally, they are all sodium-rich.”
- Chicken Soft Tacos at Taco Bell
Small quantities and “fresco style” menu options have helped Taco Bell establish a reputation as a business that offers healthier food in recent years. Soft chicken tacos are one of their heart-healthier menu items. Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD, of Sound Bites Nutrition, claims, ” Chicken tacos contain only 160 calories, 5 grams of fat, 12 grams of protein, and 2.5 grams of saturated fat. To increase the meal’s fiber content while adding just 140 more milligrams of sodium, add a side of black beans.”