If you’re keeping a close eye on your salt intake or you’ve been told to cut back on foods that contain high levels of sodium, you might be wondering if there are any low-sodium McDonald’s options. And the answer is yes, and possibly more than you’d think.
So, we’ve done the hard part for you and found the low-sodium food at Mcdonald’s – but not only that, we’ve done a deep dive for other healthy metrics too. Meaning if you’re also watching fat, sugar, or calories as part of your health kick you’ll know exactly what to order.
How Much Sodium is Okay?
It’s suggested by the American Heart Association that the general population eat no more than 2300mg of sodium a day, with 1500mg as the optimum intake for healthy people. If you do have cardiovascular issues you might have to stay even lower than this – and, if that’s what your doctor has told you, stick to their advice.
While there are McDonald’s menu items that contain a lot of sodium, many items contain fewer than 1000mg of sodium, some have less than 500mg. So, with a bit of careful planning for the rest of your day, and strategic ordering once you get to McD you can eat low-sodium at McDonald’s and visit now and again.
Here’s what you need to know
The Absolute Lowest Sodium Item At McDonald’s
If you’re looking to order the absolute lowest sodium main menu item at McDonald’s you’re going to want to order the 4-piece Chicken McNuggets.
The 4-piece Chicken McNuggets at McDonald’s contain 330mg of sodium. For McDonald’s, this is surprisingly low because menu items like the Big Mac contain more than 1,000mg.
Of course, you’ll probably order your meal with a side dish. Therefore, you also need to account for the extra sodium that might come from the fries.
A small fries at McDonald’s contains 190mg of sodium.
That means the lowest sodium main meal at McDonald’s contains 520mg of sodium.
Other Low Sodium McDonald’s Options
If you’re not in the mood for Chicken McNuggets, you’ll be pleased to hear there are other lower-sodium McDonald’s menu items. Here’s a list of options under 1000mg.
|Hamburger: The Classic McDonald’s Burger
|10-Piece Chicken McNuggets
What About Fries?
If it’s not a meal with fries you’re probably wondering how much damage you might do by adding them so, how much sodium is in a portion of McDonald’s fries?
As we said above, a small portion of McDonald’s fries has 190mg, and obviously, the portion size accounts for the smallness of that number, so you might be wondering how much difference it actually makes if you do upsize.
Well, a medium portion of McDonald’s fries contains 260mg of sodium, while a large will give you 400mg
How Much Sodium is in a Big Mac?
After all, you’re in McDonald’s chances are ordering one has at least crossed your mind. Not surprisingly, it’s not the lowest sodium option you can pick – a Big Mac has 1050mg of sodium in the burger alone – so, make sure you balance out the rest of your meals if you decide to treat yourself.
However, the Big Mac also isn’t the highest-sodium burger in McDonald’s. That prize goes to the Quarterpounder with Cheese and Bacon which has 1470mg of sodium – without the fries.
8 More Tips to Cut Sodium at McDonalds
- Ask for your fries without salt: This is possible so ask your server if you can do it.
- Pick dipping sauces carefully. The Spicy Buffalo sauce has more sodium in it than some of the burgers – a whopping 520mg per serving. The lowest sodium dipping sauce is Honey Mustard at 125mg of sodium, or keep it simple as a packet of ketchup has just 90mg.
- Pickles, cheese, and bacon all increase sodium levels. If you can live without any of them you’ll cut your intake.
- Get your crunch from apple pieces. Order these as a side instead of fries – they have zero sodium.
- Sweet doesn’t mean salt-free. McDonald’s shakes also contain some sodium – in fact, there’s more sodium in a small chocolate shake than in the fries – 250mg compared to 190mg. If you do feel the need for something sweet, pick the Chocolate Chip Cookie which has just 95mg.
- If you’re having breakfast, pick the Hot Cakes which have 530mg of sodium. The butter is salted so you might want to skip that though. If you want something more savory, the next lowest breakfast choice is the Sausage McMuffin with 760mg of sodium.
- Drink Water – or Dr Pepper. At 15mg of sodium for a small, it’s the lowest sodium beverage at McDonald’s according to their nutritional information.
- If you do want to check the sodium content of anything else on the McDonald’s Menu, use the nutrition calculator on their website.
Sodium – and Other Diets – At McDonald’s
So that’s the basics for those just watching their sodium at McDonald’s, but what if you’re really aiming to health things up and are adjusting your diet in other ways too – how do you know what’s low fat and low sodium, or low calorie and low sodium… well, we’ve got you!
The Lowest Saturated Fat, Lowest Sodium Choice
As well as being the overall lowest sodium main menu item at McDonald’s, the 4-piece Chicken McNuggets are also the item with the lowest saturated fat too. It also only contains 1.5 grams of saturated fat – and 330mg of sodium.
But don’t assume that if some is good, more is better. The 10-piece Chicken McNuggets contain 850mg of sodium and 4g of saturated fat, compare that to, say, the McChicken which has just 560mg of sodium and 3.5 grams of saturated fat, and you can see just upgrading your nuggets is not the best way to keep your sodium levels low.
If you feel like red meat, the Hamburger should be your choice with 510mg of sodium and 6 grams of fat.
Again, a small portion of chips might not be as bad as you think – they have just 1.5g of saturated fat. But, if you really want to be virtuous, get your crunch from the apple slices which have no fat and no sodium.
The Lowest Calorie, Lowest Sodium Choice
The portion size probably gives away the fact that the 4-piece Chicken McNuggets and small fries are also the best menu item you can order at McDonald’s if you’re watching both calories and sodium.
The 4-piece Chicken McNuggets have just 170 calories and a small fries has just 230 calories – which makes this combo 400 calories, which is the minimum suggested amount for a main meal.
The McChicken also strikes a good balance when it comes to calories and sodium levels. The McChicken has 560mg of sodium and 400 calories. The Filet-O-Fish with 390 calories and 580mg of sodium is a solid option too.
Of course, being low in calories, fat or sodium is not the only thing that makes a meal healthy – we do have to point out that there’s a distinct lack of fresh fruit and vegetables in any of the options we’ve suggested so far, so, definitely make sure the rest of your day is packed with produce.
The Lowest Sugar, Lowest Sodium Choice
Guess what, it’s the 4-piece Chicken McNuggets again. They are the only food items on the McDonald’s menu that don’t contain any sugar. Luckily for us, they also contain the lowest sodium levels too.
The Filet-O-Fish and McChicken with 5 grams of sugar are also suitable choices. The classic McDonald’s Hamburger only contains 6 grams of sugar.
And, if you’re in there for breakfast, the Sausage McMuffin, Sausage Biscuit, and Sausage Burrito have just 2 grams of sugar. These three menu items contain 1090mg, 760mg, and 800mg of sodium.
The Lowest Sodium Vegetarian/Vegan Choice
Unfortunately, McDonald’s doesn’t yet offer a vegetarian or vegan menu. In fact, there aren’t any vegetarian or vegan options at all.
They did offer the McPlant burger in certain locations across America up until 2022. The McPlant was a plant-based vegan burger co-developed with Beyond Meat.
It featured a vegan patty, onions, pickles, lettuce, tomato, vegan cheese, a vegan sandwich sauce, and a sesame seed bun. What it was not was low sodium – it actually contained 2200mg of sodium. So, in these circumstances, its disappearance might not be the worst thing!
There you have it, the best choices to order in McDonald’s if you’re watching your sodium intake. I hope it helped make things a bit easier for you.
If you have any more questions, feel free to pop them in the comments and I’ll try my best to get back to you.
What to Read Next
You might be wondering if Burger King has less sodium than McDonalds, find out in our guide to salt in Burger King.
If you are on a low-sodium diet, the more veggies you can eat the better – but, if you’re not a fan of certain vegetables, you might be a supertaster. Here’s how to tell and what to do about it.
Who is The Wellness Nerd?
My name is Helen Foster, and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail, and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.