Which Is the Healthiest Fast Food Hamburger?

Like many things context is very important in determining the answer to that question. What exactly does “healthy” mean?

Commonly people believe something is healthy if it isn’t too fattening, doesn’t have too much sodium and is low in calories. That’s about it. When the news does a report on obesity, they reference calories and fat grams in fast food. They never hark back to the nature of the ingredients, rarely the sodium, and never the importance of the nutrients.

So to determine the healthiest fast food hamburger we’re going to choose one from each “health conscious” category. We’ll look for the best diet burger, the best variety of ingredients, healthiest nutrient combination.

For the healthiest fast food hamburger in the best diet burger category, the Wendy’s Jr. hamburger wins the crown. It has 13 grams of protein, 26 grams of carbs and 8 grams of fat. There are a few burgers that have fewer grams of fat, like the Steak N Shake A-1 burger, but all of those have half the grams of protein as well. The Wendy’s Jr. hamburger has the best ratio of them all.

In the second category we’ll look for the healthiest fast food hamburger from an ingredient perspective. We’re looking for ingredients from all the food groups. For instance if you added kale to the Wendy’s Jr. hamburger it wouldn’t change the calories much but would add to the ingredient variety.

In that category there just aren’t a lot of options until you go outside the traditional burger concept. Several have veggie burgers, turkey burgers or lettuce wrapped low carbohydrate burgers. But going outside the traditional definition of hamburger seemed contrary to this article. If we stick to looking along the lines of a hamburger that has both a grilled patty on a bun we’re left looking for exotic toppings.

Hardees’ Southwest Burger has jalapenos and grilled onions, the Steak N Shake avocado burger has avocado slices and the Big Mac has a special sauce. There is no clear winner here – just a variety of different burgers where you can switch out the ingredients.

Despite its 540 calorie stature, the Denny’s Veggie burger boasts a combination of spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, Monterey Jack cheese and a wheat bun. But what sets it apart is they use an Amy’s Veggie Patty which is made from organic, whole grain ingredients.

If you don’t order fries and a shake, 540 calories isn’t bad for a meal.

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