Eating Low Sodium at McDonald’s

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Image: McDONALD’S

THE GUIDE TO WHAT YOU CAN EAT AND STAY LOW SODIUM AT McDONALD’S

McDonald’s is the largest food chain in American, based on sales volume, and the biggest fast-food chain in the world. This means Americans spend more on McDonald’s food than anyplace else. But in a world of french fries, McNuggets, and Big Macs, is there anything on the menu at McDonald’s that would meet the standards of a low sodium lifestyle? We dig in to discover low sodium options under the golden arches.

CHEESE

You definitely want to avoid that bright orange cheese at McDonald’s. A single slice of their Pasteurized Process American Cheese contains 210 mg of sodium!

LUNCH & DINNER

There are a few items on the McDonald’s menu that fit a low sodium lifestyle. Some of their menu items require a bit of customization on your part but by asking them to hold off on the condiments like mayo or tartar sauce you can create a reasonable lower sodium meal.

Good Choices

  • 4 Piece Chicken McNuggets®: 330 mg
  • Filet-O-Fish®: 340 mg without the “junior” slice of Pasteurized Process American Cheese and no tartar sauce (450 mg with tartar sauce – 610 mg with the tartar sauce and cheese)

Moderate Choices

  • Hamburger: 510 mg (Hold the pickle chips and the sodium drops to 470 mg)
  • McChicken®: 560 mg (Hold the mayo and the sodium drops to 500 mg)

Items You Must Avoid

  • Big Mac®: 1010 mg
  • Double Quarter Pounder®* with Cheese: 1370 mg
  • Quarter Pounder® with Cheese Bacon: 1500mg

FRIES

Yes, you can have some of those World Famous Fries®! From a sodium standpoint, a small order of fries contains only 180 mg of sodium. That seems surprisingly low considering traditional thinking would indicate that fries are super salty.

Ketchup would instantly add copious amounts of sodium and sugar so it is best to enjoy the fries naked. And since this is a fried product, consider sticking to the small. But for those curious about the medium fries, they clock in at 260 mg of sodium. For comparison, that is just slightly more than a single slice of their bright orange processed cheese.

By the way, you can lower that sodium content even more by ordering them without salt! Yes, McDonald’s will cook you up a fresh batch of fries without using the salt shaker. Just remember the fries get dumped from the fryer into a central scooping station, which means your fries will probably pick up at least a little residual salt. So ordering them without salt does not make them completely “salt-free” but does significantly reduce the sodium content.

BREAKFAST

Good Choices

  • Fruit & Maple Oatmeal: 150 mg
  • Egg McMuffin® with no Canadian Bacon and no Pasteurized Process American Cheese: 340 mg

Moderate Choices

  • Egg McMuffin® with no Canadian Bacon: 550 mg
  • Sausage McMuffin® with no Pasteurized Process American Cheese: 560 mg

Items You Must Avoid

  • Bacon, Egg & Cheese McGriddles®: 1240 mg
  • Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit: 1300 mg
  • Big Breakfast®: 1490 mg
  • Big Breakfast® with Hotcakes: 2090 mg

What about the hash brown? Well, a McDonald’s hash brown contains 310 mg of sodium. So you’ll probably want to skip this breakfast side.

DIPPING SAUCES

As you may know, sauces can sabotage your meal by adding a lot of unwanted sodium. So all sauces should be used lightly. The lowest sodium sauce at McDonald’s is the Tangy Honey Mustard Sauce. Here is the sodium content for the full list of McDonald’s sauces:

  • Tangy Honey Mustard Sauce: 140 mg
  • Sweet ‘N Sour Sauce: 150 mg
  • Hot Mustard Sauce: 250 mg
  • Barbecue Sauce: 260 mg
  • Creamy Ranch Sauce: 270 mg
  • Spicy Buffalo Sauce: 800 mg!!!

DESSERT

If you have a sweet tooth and are curious about how much sodium is in that Baked Apple Pie, the answer is 95 mg. Surprisingly a small McDonald’s Strawberry Shake contains 190 mg of sodium. So probably best to limit yourself to the Baked Apple Pie if you are craving a dessert.


All nutritional information is believed to be accurate as of the writing of this article. LoSoFoodie.com recommends you review McDonald’s nutrition page or use McDonald’s nutrition calculator for the most up-to-date values before placing your order. This website should not be considered medical advice. Always check with your doctor to understand your personal dietary needs.

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