Let’s be honest for a second: Salad is usually not the most delicious thing on a menu. Salad—not the highfalutin, ramps-and-pine-nuts kind, but the patriotic, iceberg-lettuce-and-a-petrified-tomato-wedge kind—is the food you order when you’re at a place where you’re expected to be eating food (chain restaurants, broadly), but it’s a time of year when you should not really be eating the food they serve there (the seemingly 10-month annual timespan known as “swimsuit season”). Salad is a necessity, a type of proto-Soylent. In its purest form, it says, “I’m taking care of a basic bodily need, but it’s just crunchy water!” Salad, at its best, feels like a strategically good choice without being truly satisfying to the soul, like dating someone who’s not that smart, but has a beach-adjacent timeshare.
Salad has its faults, and it knows it. It’s healthy, but it will never win the popularity contest against your Chipotle burritos, or even your Quizno’s subs. So the one thing salad should really never be is less healthy than a Big Mac. A Big Mac! It’s the sandwich that’s shorthand for everything that’s wrong with the American diet.
And yet, a new report from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine points out 100 restaurant salads that are “worse” than a Big Mac. The group defines “worse” in terms of saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium, and calories, of which a Big Mac has 550, according to PCRM. (McDonald’s says the famous burger has only 530.) According to PCRM, a Big Mac also contains 29 grams of fat, 75 mg of cholesterol, and 970 mg of sodium.