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Nov 16, 2009 06:58 AM

Are all chicken sandwiches at fast food restaurants loaded with sodium?

My post-stroke MIL recently started getting the grilled chicken wrap at McDonald's thinking it was a better choice than a burger. I looked it up for her and it's got a huge amount of sodium, half from the tortilla and half from the chicken. I spot checked the other chicken sandwiches and found the same thing. She'd be better off with a cheese burger. Then because we'd taken her to Applebee's (another of her faves) and my husband and I had the Chinese chicken salad, I checked that. Again loaded with sodium and it came from the chicken, not the dressing. All of the beef selections had significantly less sodium. So I'm guessing that the chicken in these places is injected with sodium to keep it moist. Is anybody here knowledgeable about this? Are there chains where this isn't the case?
PS: At 89 and already on meds for cholesterol and BP, I think she should eat anything she wants :) But I AM curious for myself.

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    1. I went through this same thing with my Dad who was addicted to eating out. He thought that just because he couldn't taste the salt, it wasn't there. (Then he would get mad at me if a put in a teeny tiny little bit of sea salt while cooking his eggs or mashed potatoes! HA!!)
      Unfortunately, fast food AND most restaurants (Applebees, Chili's and Ruby Tuesday rated among the worst) put an insane amount of salt in their food. If you can taste it, then it is REALLY BAD.
      You are right about your Mom. Let her eat what she wants!! ... As for you, if you are really concerned, you should buy one of those books that tell you the nutritional value of foods and contain several restaurants and prepackaged foods.

      Oh, forget to answer your specific question. As far as fast food goes, the grilled chicken at Chic-fil-a isn't that bad.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Ms.chef

        actually, the chargrilled chicken sandwich at Chick Fil A contains 1300 mg of sodium - that's even higher than BK, McD's and Wendy's.

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet


          I always have thought that Chick Fil A was a good choice, but one day I was looking at the nutritional info and was shocked at how much sodium the sandwiches had. It's actually higher than 1300. How much sodium do you think is the chicken and how much for the bread? I looked at the website but it didn't say.

            1. re: danhole

              i just remember back in college in Atlanta, i had a couple of girlfriends who were addicted to their lemonade - the regular, not the diet. they'd buy a large and suck it down in no time. i looked up the info on it - 350 calories of liquid sugar. nice.

        2. the chicken at these places usually gets a salt-water to keep it moist, so there's no way around the sodium in the chicken. but what people don't realize is that the BREAD can contain even more sodium than the chicken.

          perfect example - a 4-oz portion of grilled chicken breast at Au Bon Pain contains around 330 mg of sodium, which isn't too bad for fast/restaurant food (kosher chicken can often contain that much). however, have it on two slices of their Artisan Multigrain bread and you're adding another *670* mg! you're at 1000mg for the sandwich before you even add condiments. (for the record, even their smaller Ciabatta roll comes in at 470 mg of sodium.)

          1 Reply
          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            Yeah, that was what kinda surprised me. She and we all thought we were making healthier decisions with the chicken wrap and the Chinese chicken salad. And, yes, that wrap had half the sodium in the bread. And things like French fries AREN'T particular offenders because the salt is on the outside so you taste it more.

            As I make more and more and more from scratch, it brings it home even more. I made a two quarts of soup yesterday that had one teaspoon of salt in it. That was it.

          2. If you are watching sodium and eating out at FF / chains, beef is usually the safer bet. At MCD, even if you order a burger, you might have to specify "no grill seasonings." It's my belief that one of these places will make a killing if they start offering a few lower sodium options, but that usually means "less processing," so it goes contrary to their core business of selling food like products to the masses.