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When you’re trying to make healthier choices at fast food restaurants, you might have heard that Chick-fil-A is better-for-you choice than other chains.
But, are Chick-fil-A potato waffle fries healthy? On their own, Chick-fil-A fries are not healthy because they do not provide a balanced source of nutrients. However, all foods can be enjoyed in moderation as part of an overall balanced diet. With other foods, fries can be part of a healthy meal.
Another big issue with Chick-Fil-A’s waffle fries (and most fast food fries in general is we love to dip them in sauce. But often that sauce (even Chick-Fil-A’s sauce) is worse for your health than the fries that you are dipping in it.
This isn’t unique to Chick-Fil-A either as often the dressing for your favorite salad or the dips for your fries can be more unhealthy than the food you are considering eating.
In this article, I’ll provide context about what makes food “healthy” or not, and why it’s not a good idea to think about any one food as healthy or unhealthy. You’ll learn how considering all of the foods you eat in an entire day is more important for your health than worrying about any one food.
Do you love Chick-Fil-A sauce but don’t live close to one?
Well you’re in luck because you can now buy a variety pack of Chick-Fil-A’s most popular sauces online!
Chick-fil-A Fries: Nutrition
A medium size serving (125g) of Chick-fil-A’s potato waffle fries has the following nutritional content:
These fries are high in fat; 24g of fat provides 51% of the total calories. These fries are low in protein; the 5g of protein supplies only 5% of the total calories. The remaining 44% of calories comes from carbohydrates.
In general, most people do well with their health and fitness goals with an overall intake of 30% protein, 40% carbohydrates, and 30% fat.
However, it is normal that no one food will provide macronutrients in this ratio. Ideally, each meal or snack would come close to this ratio, but the most important thing is the macronutrient split across the entire day.
With 24g of fat providing 216 calories (each gram of fat supplies 9 calories), a meal would have to have 720 calories in total with no additional sources of fat in order for the potato waffle fries to provide 30% of calories from fat.
The meal would also need a total of 54g of protein (+49g on top of the 5g in the fries) and 72g of carbs (+27g on top of the 45g in the fries) in order to provide 30% of calories from protein and 40% from carbs.
A meal with 720 calories could be much too big for someone with a total calorie intake for the day of 1,500 calories, for example.
In this case, it makes more sense to consider the fries relative to the rest of the intake for the day, or to consider eating only half a serving for 210 calories with 12g of fat instead.
How Are Chick-fil-A Fries Made?
Chick-fil-A’s best-selling waffle fries start with high-quality potatoes sourced from family-owned local farms in Washington State and Oregon. The potatoes are cut into the unique waffle shape and then flash frozen to preserve their freshness.
The potatoes aren’t even peeled, so the bottom or back of some waffle fries will have pieces of potato skin, a bonus for added fiber.
The frozen waffle fries are cooked in the deep fryer for exactly two minutes to reach golden perfection. As soon as the excess oil is shaken off, the fries are tossed with two sprinkles of sea salt.
However, compared to a traditional French fry shape, the waffle shape allows more of the frying oil to be absorbed, resulting in a higher-fat fry.
What Makes Chick-fil-A Fries Healthy Or Not?
We looked at the fat content, type of oil, sodium, and serving size to consider whether Chick-fil-A fries are healthy or not.
Chick-fil-A potato waffle fries have the highest fat content (24g) compared to other chains with similar serving sizes, and this is all in the form of added oil from deep frying, including 4g of saturated fat. More than half of the calories come from fat.
The fat content in Chick-fil-A fries makes them unhealthy.
Type of Oil Used
Chick-fil-A potato waffle fries are deep fried in canola oil. Anecdotally, people have concerns about canola oil, but according to health officials at Harvard University, canola oil is a healthy oil because it is high in polyunsaturated fat and low in saturated fat.
The oil used to fry Chick-fil-A fries is a healthier choice than frying in animal fat.
Chick-fil-A potato waffle fries have the lowest sodium content (240mg) compared to other chains with similar serving sizes.
According to Registered Dietician Brenda Peralta, a “low-sodium diet has a total daily intake of 1,500-2,300mg of sodium”. In order for a food to be labeled as “low-sodium” it has to have less than 140mg per serving.
Chick-fil-A fries are not a low-sodium food, but they are lower in sodium than other fries, which makes them a healthier choice when it comes to sodium intake.
The serving size at Chick-fil-A is 125g for a medium order. This is on par with other fast food chains’ medium fries, with the exception of KFC, where a “medium” order is 311g (more than double). Restaurants often provide portions that are 2-4 times bigger than “normal” portion sizes.
Whether 125g providing 420 calories is an appropriate serving size really depends on an individual’s total calorie goal for the day. For some people, 400 calories is a lot.
For example, 400 calories is only 10% of a daily total of 4,000 calories, but it is 33% of a daily total of 1,200 calories. To put this into context, the average woman looking to lose weight will eat .between 1200 to 2000 calories per day.
If 400 calories is a lot for you, the solution would be to eat only half a serving – share the rest with a friend, or throw them away, or order a small size (96g for 320 calories with 19g of fat).
Are Chick-fil-A Fries Healthier Than Other Fast Food Chains?
|Medium Fries||Chick-fil-A||Burger King||KFC||McDonald’s|
Chick-Fil-A fries are not healthier than fries from other fast food chains. Even though they have the second-smallest serving size after McDonald’s, they have the highest calorie and fat content.
The only area where they are healthier is that they have the lowest sodium content.
How To Make Chick-fil-A Fries Healthier
There are two key ways to make Chick-fil-A fries healthier: 1) a smaller portion size, and 2) pairing them with lean protein and vegetables to create an overall balanced meal.
A smaller portion size will reduce the number of calories and grams of fat coming from the fries. This means more of your daily intake can come from more nutritious, filling, whole food choices than fries. This could mean ordering a small size, or eating only some of a medium order.
As we saw, no one food on its own should be considered “healthy” or “unhealthy.” Adding a source of lean protein, like Chick-fil-A grilled nuggets, and vegetables like a Chick-fil-A Kale Crunch Side Salad is a great way to create a meal with a more balanced macronutrient profile and more micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) coming from the vegetables in the salad.
You could of course just eat the Chick-Fil-Cobb Salad as well if you are trying to be extra healthy but be careful, even though it’s a salad if you add dressing and the breaded chicken on top it can be almost as bad for you as getting a chicken sandwhich and fries.
The same thing is true with the Spicy Southwest Salad or the Market Salad. Although these signature salads are delicious they aren’t very healthy once you add the dressing, toppings, and breaded chicken to them.
When ordering from Chick-Fil-A or any other fast food restaurant you will want to make sure that you always check the nutrional value for everything that you are ordering whether it’s a salad, waffle fries, a chicken sandwhich, or their delicious nuggets. Really the only way to truly know how healthy something you are eating is is by looking at the fat, saturated fat, calories, sodium, etc. before you order it.