Top Ten Healthy Fast-Food Chains

Although I posted last week about doom-mongering health-related news, such as the fact that the higher the number of fast-food outlets in your neighborhood, the more likely you are to have a stroke, and, my personal favorite, the revelation that one drink a day is apparently a death sentence for women), it seems that there is a bit of good news about fast food after all. We can, apparently, eat it and not die.

After surveying the country's 100 largest fast-food chains, Health magazine has released its rundown of the ten healthiest (for the full article, CLICK HERE). Topping the list? Panera Bread, which garnered praise for its half portions of soups, salads and sandwiches, plus its commitment to hormone-free chicken.

Number two--Jason's Deli--I'd never even heard of (for a good reason, it turns out: Riverside is the only California location). But, with its focus on organic ingredients and recent elimination of HFCS from its food, it's one to watch if it does come our way.

Of other locally found chains, Chipotle landed the number six spot, and Einstein Bros Bagels ranked nine.

There are some surprises within the top ten, not least McDonald's. Yes, Mcy D's made the grade for its Grilled Chicken Classic sandwich and wraps--provided you skip the mayo and sauce, natch--as well as its Egg McMuffin, which weighs in at just 300 calories.

And that's just it - it's all about choice. All these places offer such a wide variety of menu options that you can eat sensibly if you choose carefully. This might explain why the Corner Bakery Café also made the list, at number five, despite its display cabinets of mouthwatering bundt cakes and brownies, designed to derail our diets in a nanosecond.

Having said that, you can have too much choice. It's what I call the "teriyaki test"--if a non-Asian place is doing teriyaki (Jack In the Box, anyone?), it's a menu item too far. Steer well clear.

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