It’s no secret that many fast food menu items are unhealthy. The high sodium content of these foods is one of the primary reasons why it’s best to consume them infrequently or avoid them altogether.
This article will take a look at whether there are any suitable options for low-sodium eating at McDonald’s. Let’s get into it!
Low Sodium Eating At McDonald’s
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), low sodium is considered 140 milligrams (mg) or less per serving for packaging nutrient claims. Keep this number in mind simply as a reference to determine what foods are low in sodium at McDonald’s.
Unfornatatley, not many foods fit into the category. In fact, many are high in sodium and are likely foods you’ll want to avoid on a low-sodium diet.
Below you will find a list of McDonald’s food and beverage categories and the top lowest sodium items for each category. We also included items to avoid due to high sodium.
Your best choice for a McDonald’s burger with the lowest sodium is The Classic McDonald’s Hamburger. However, while it’s the hamburger with the lowest sodium at McDonald’s, it is not considered a low-sodium menu option.
Here are the top 5 McDonald’s burgers with the lowest sodium:
- Classic Hamburger – 510 mg
- Cheeseburger – 720 mg
- McDouble – 920 mg
- Big Mac – 1,010 mg
- Double Cheeseburger – 1,120 mg
What to avoid? All burgers are high in sodium. However, the worst one currently listed on the McDonald’s website is the Quater Pounder with Cheese & Bacon. It has 1,470 milligrams of sodium and is undoubtedly one to avoid.
Chicken & Fish Sandwiches
Your best option for a chicken sandwich is the McChicken while the Filet-O-Fish has a slightly higher sodium content.
- McChicken – 560 mg
- Filet-O-Fish – 580 mg
- Deluxe Crispy Chicken Sandwich – 1,050 mg
- Crispy Chicken Sandwich – 1,140 mg
- Spicy Deluxe Crispy Chicken Sandwich – 1,200 mg
What to avoid? All of the chicken and fish sandwiches have over 500 milligrams of sodium while several have over 1,000 milligrams. People who are watching their sodium may wish to avoid this category of food at McDonald’s.
Chicken Nuggets are probably something you want to avoid if your sodium intake is a concern for you. This is especially true if you like dipping your McNuggets into dipping sauce. For Example, eating a 6-piece Chicken McNugget with Sweet ‘N’ Sour dipping sauce is 660 milligrams of sodium. Nevertheless, here is the sodium content for the various Chicken McNugget serving sizes:
- Chicken McNuggets (4 piece) – 330 mg
- Chicken McNuggets (6 piece) – 500 mg
- Chicken McNuggets (10 piece) – 840 mg
- Chicken McNuggets (20 piece) – 1,670 mg
- Chicken McNuggets (40 piece) – 3,350 mg
What to avoid? Avoid going overboard with the number of nuggets you eat to minimize your sodium intake.
Although not the most exciting menu item, the Fruit & Maple Oatmeal is one of the best foods you can get at McDonald’s for low sodium. Furthermore, hash browns only have 310 mg of sodium but most people don’t go to McDonald’s and just order a hash brown for a meal. Lastly, hot cakes are surprisingly one of the lower sodium breakfast menu items at under 550 mg of sodium.
- Fruit & Maple Oatmeal – 150 mg
- Hash Browns – 310 mg
- Hot Cakes with Syrup & Salted Whipped Butter – 530 mg
- Sausage McMuffin – 760 mg
- Egg McMuffin – 770 mg
What to avoid? There are a lot of high-sodium breakfast foods at McDonald’s. For example, the Sausage Biscuit with Egg has an eye-opening 1,190 milligrams of sodium. Even worse is the Sausage, Egg, & Cheese McGriddle with a staggering 1,290 milligrams of sodium.
Size matters when it comes to fries and sodium:
- Fries (Kids) – 90 mg
- Fries (Small) – 190 mg
- Fries (Medium) – 260 mg
- Fries (Large) – 400 mg
What to avoid? Most people typically don’t just eat fries at McDonald’s since they are a side item. However, they can quickly add calories and sodium to any meal. It is best to keep your serving of fries to a minimum if you choose to eat them.
Most hot beverages at McDonald’s aren’t too crazy with sodium. Several of them have less than 200 milligrams:
- Hot Tea (Small) – 5 mg
- Americano (Small) – 10 mg
- Premium Roast Coffee (Small) – 20 mg
- French Vanilla Cappuccino (Small) – 70 mg
- Cappuccino (Small) – 80 mg
- Mocha (Small) – 150 mg
- Hot Chocolate (Small) – 170 mg
What to avoid? Avoid Caramel Cappuccino and Caramel Macchiato beverages. Both have a sodium content of 300 milligrams and above for their small sizes.
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All McCafe Bakery items have more than 300 milligrams of sodium.
- Blueberry Muffin – 330 mg
- Cheese Danish (Limited Time Only) – 340 mg
- Apple Fritter – 360 mg
- Cinnamon Roll with Cream Cheese Icing – 450 mg
What to avoid? Skip the dessert!
McDonald’s Smoothies are low sodium for the flavors and sizes listed below:
- Strawberry Banana (Small) – 40 mg
- Strawberry Banana (Medium) – 50 mg
- Strawberry Banana (Large) – 70 mg
- Mango Pineapple (Small) – 35 mg
- Mango Pineapple (Medium) – 45 mg
- Mango Pineapple (Large) – 60 mg
What to avoid? Smoothies are low in sodium and a good low sodium Mcdonald’s menu option.
Desserts & Shakes
The top choices for desserts and shakes are vanilla cones and chocolate chip cookies, which are both under 100 milligrams of sodium per serving. As you can see below, there are several other reasonable options with sodium under 250 milligrams.
- Vanilla Cone – 80 mg
- Chocolate Chip Cookie – 95 mg
- McFlurry with M&M’s (Snack Size) – 130 mg
- Hot Caramel Sundae – 150 mg
- Strawberry Shake (Small) – 160 mg
- McFlurry with Oreo (Snack Size) – 170 mg
- Hot Fudge Sundae – 170 mg
- Vanilla Shake (Small) – 210 mg
- Chocolate Shake (Small) – 250 mg
What to avoid? Avoid the larger sizes of shakes to minimize your sodium.
Recommended Sodium Per Day
No more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day is recommended by the American Heart Association. They go on to state that a maximum of 1,500 milligrams daily is ideal for most adults. Based on this information, you can see why the sodium content of many McDonald’s foods is a concern.
McDonald’s is generally not a good place to dine if you want low-sodium food. However, there are a few options to keep your sodium at a reasonable level for your meal. Be sure to visit McDonalds.com for the latest nutrition information including sodium content. The company does a nice job of being transparent about the nutritional content of its food.
FDA. (n.d.). Sodium in your diet. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from https://www.fda.gov/food/nutrition-education-resources-materials/sodium-your diet#:~:text=As%20a%20general%20guide%3A%205,per%20serving%20is%20considered%20high.
How much sodium should I eat per day? www.heart.org. (2022, July 22). Retrieved October 14, 2022, from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sodium/how-much-sodium-should-i-eat-per-day