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America's 10 Healthiest Chain Restaurants

America's 10 Healthiest Chain Restaurants

It wasn’t so long ago when “healthy chain restaurants,” or, more specifically, “healthy fast food,” was considered an oxymoron. Sure, chains like McDonald’s and Wendy’s have offered salads for quite a while now, but making an effort to be healthy via a few token menu items does not a healthy restaurant make (as they say, you can put lipstick on a pig…). However, in recent years, chain restaurants have emerged that are legitimately healthy, and these are the top 10.

America's 10 Healthiest Chain Restaurants (Slideshow)

So, what makes a chain restaurant “healthy”? First of all, it needs to be an actual chain, with more than 15 locations and a robust expansion plan. Second, the restaurant needs to be making a concerted and visible effort to serve healthy food, menu-wide. Sure, there can be a few outlying items for diners who aren’t looking to have a health-conscious meal, but across the board, the menu needs to be geared toward health-conscious diners. Chains were awarded extra points if they make an effort to offer low-calorie items across their entire menu, and if they go out of their way to responsibly source their ingredients.

Thankfully, in recent years, a whole slew of health-focused “fast-casual” chains have emerged, and the old guard has found themselves having to play catch-up. And we’re not just talking about Panera Bread, either (which has certainly been taking market share away from established fast food and fast-casual chains); chains that can still qualify as startups, some with only around a dozen or so locations, are coming onto the scene to offer a fast food or fast-casual experience to health-conscious diners who are looking for a quick lunch made with responsibly-sourced ingredients. We made sure to include plenty of those types of chains in our ranking.

So read on for a glimpse not only of chains that are really working to make a difference, but for a look into the future of fast food. As more and more people realize that wholesome foods with high-quality ingredients are far more conducive to a healthy lifestyle than a fried chicken sandwich and fries, expect to see some of the smaller chains on our list become as commonplace as the big guys. Read on to learn which 10 chain restaurants are America’s healthiest.


The 10 Healthiest Chain Restaurants In The U.S.

NEW ORLEANS — A new website ranks popular restaurant chains in the United States based on the healthiness of their food, and aims to make it easier for people to find healthy options when they eat out.

The website, called Grellin, uses nutrition information from meals at 100 of the nation's restaurant chains, and ranks the restaurants based on the proportion of their meals that qualify as "healthy." The researchers call this percentage the "Grellin grade."

Some of the restaurants that ranked as the healthiest include Au Bon Pain, Rubio's and Subway, which had more than 50 percent of their menu items meet the criteria for healthiness.

Dr. Lenard Lesser, of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, said the website was inspired by restaurant inspection grades, which people may use to determine if they want to eat at a certain restaurant.

"We hope that people tend to go towards restaurants that have a higher percentage of their menu that is healthy," and that restaurants with more healthy items get more customers, Lesser told Live Science. The website was announced today (Nov. 19) here at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.

To rank the restaurants, the researchers turned to a database called MenuStat to collect published nutrition information on menu items.

Then, the researchers gave food items a nutrition score out of 100, based on their nutrient content and the percentage of fruits, nuts and vegetables that the item had. Menu items that scored above 64 on nutrient content, and had fewer than 700 calories, were considered healthy.

The researchers created an algorithm to score menu items, but some items did not have enough information in the database to be scored, so the researchers turned to crowdsourcing. Participants underwent a brief training to learn how much fruit, vegetables and nuts were in certain foods, and then rated the fruit, vegetable and nut content of menu items, Lesser said. [Lose Weight Smartly: 7 Little-Known Tricks That Shave Pounds]

Here are the 10 healthiest restaurant chains (with their scores), according to the site:


The 10 Healthiest Chain Restaurants In The U.S.

NEW ORLEANS — A new website ranks popular restaurant chains in the United States based on the healthiness of their food, and aims to make it easier for people to find healthy options when they eat out.

The website, called Grellin, uses nutrition information from meals at 100 of the nation's restaurant chains, and ranks the restaurants based on the proportion of their meals that qualify as "healthy." The researchers call this percentage the "Grellin grade."

Some of the restaurants that ranked as the healthiest include Au Bon Pain, Rubio's and Subway, which had more than 50 percent of their menu items meet the criteria for healthiness.

Dr. Lenard Lesser, of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, said the website was inspired by restaurant inspection grades, which people may use to determine if they want to eat at a certain restaurant.

"We hope that people tend to go towards restaurants that have a higher percentage of their menu that is healthy," and that restaurants with more healthy items get more customers, Lesser told Live Science. The website was announced today (Nov. 19) here at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.

To rank the restaurants, the researchers turned to a database called MenuStat to collect published nutrition information on menu items.

Then, the researchers gave food items a nutrition score out of 100, based on their nutrient content and the percentage of fruits, nuts and vegetables that the item had. Menu items that scored above 64 on nutrient content, and had fewer than 700 calories, were considered healthy.

The researchers created an algorithm to score menu items, but some items did not have enough information in the database to be scored, so the researchers turned to crowdsourcing. Participants underwent a brief training to learn how much fruit, vegetables and nuts were in certain foods, and then rated the fruit, vegetable and nut content of menu items, Lesser said. [Lose Weight Smartly: 7 Little-Known Tricks That Shave Pounds]

Here are the 10 healthiest restaurant chains (with their scores), according to the site:


The 10 Healthiest Chain Restaurants In The U.S.

NEW ORLEANS — A new website ranks popular restaurant chains in the United States based on the healthiness of their food, and aims to make it easier for people to find healthy options when they eat out.

The website, called Grellin, uses nutrition information from meals at 100 of the nation's restaurant chains, and ranks the restaurants based on the proportion of their meals that qualify as "healthy." The researchers call this percentage the "Grellin grade."

Some of the restaurants that ranked as the healthiest include Au Bon Pain, Rubio's and Subway, which had more than 50 percent of their menu items meet the criteria for healthiness.

Dr. Lenard Lesser, of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, said the website was inspired by restaurant inspection grades, which people may use to determine if they want to eat at a certain restaurant.

"We hope that people tend to go towards restaurants that have a higher percentage of their menu that is healthy," and that restaurants with more healthy items get more customers, Lesser told Live Science. The website was announced today (Nov. 19) here at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.

To rank the restaurants, the researchers turned to a database called MenuStat to collect published nutrition information on menu items.

Then, the researchers gave food items a nutrition score out of 100, based on their nutrient content and the percentage of fruits, nuts and vegetables that the item had. Menu items that scored above 64 on nutrient content, and had fewer than 700 calories, were considered healthy.

The researchers created an algorithm to score menu items, but some items did not have enough information in the database to be scored, so the researchers turned to crowdsourcing. Participants underwent a brief training to learn how much fruit, vegetables and nuts were in certain foods, and then rated the fruit, vegetable and nut content of menu items, Lesser said. [Lose Weight Smartly: 7 Little-Known Tricks That Shave Pounds]

Here are the 10 healthiest restaurant chains (with their scores), according to the site:


The 10 Healthiest Chain Restaurants In The U.S.

NEW ORLEANS — A new website ranks popular restaurant chains in the United States based on the healthiness of their food, and aims to make it easier for people to find healthy options when they eat out.

The website, called Grellin, uses nutrition information from meals at 100 of the nation's restaurant chains, and ranks the restaurants based on the proportion of their meals that qualify as "healthy." The researchers call this percentage the "Grellin grade."

Some of the restaurants that ranked as the healthiest include Au Bon Pain, Rubio's and Subway, which had more than 50 percent of their menu items meet the criteria for healthiness.

Dr. Lenard Lesser, of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, said the website was inspired by restaurant inspection grades, which people may use to determine if they want to eat at a certain restaurant.

"We hope that people tend to go towards restaurants that have a higher percentage of their menu that is healthy," and that restaurants with more healthy items get more customers, Lesser told Live Science. The website was announced today (Nov. 19) here at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.

To rank the restaurants, the researchers turned to a database called MenuStat to collect published nutrition information on menu items.

Then, the researchers gave food items a nutrition score out of 100, based on their nutrient content and the percentage of fruits, nuts and vegetables that the item had. Menu items that scored above 64 on nutrient content, and had fewer than 700 calories, were considered healthy.

The researchers created an algorithm to score menu items, but some items did not have enough information in the database to be scored, so the researchers turned to crowdsourcing. Participants underwent a brief training to learn how much fruit, vegetables and nuts were in certain foods, and then rated the fruit, vegetable and nut content of menu items, Lesser said. [Lose Weight Smartly: 7 Little-Known Tricks That Shave Pounds]

Here are the 10 healthiest restaurant chains (with their scores), according to the site:


The 10 Healthiest Chain Restaurants In The U.S.

NEW ORLEANS — A new website ranks popular restaurant chains in the United States based on the healthiness of their food, and aims to make it easier for people to find healthy options when they eat out.

The website, called Grellin, uses nutrition information from meals at 100 of the nation's restaurant chains, and ranks the restaurants based on the proportion of their meals that qualify as "healthy." The researchers call this percentage the "Grellin grade."

Some of the restaurants that ranked as the healthiest include Au Bon Pain, Rubio's and Subway, which had more than 50 percent of their menu items meet the criteria for healthiness.

Dr. Lenard Lesser, of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, said the website was inspired by restaurant inspection grades, which people may use to determine if they want to eat at a certain restaurant.

"We hope that people tend to go towards restaurants that have a higher percentage of their menu that is healthy," and that restaurants with more healthy items get more customers, Lesser told Live Science. The website was announced today (Nov. 19) here at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.

To rank the restaurants, the researchers turned to a database called MenuStat to collect published nutrition information on menu items.

Then, the researchers gave food items a nutrition score out of 100, based on their nutrient content and the percentage of fruits, nuts and vegetables that the item had. Menu items that scored above 64 on nutrient content, and had fewer than 700 calories, were considered healthy.

The researchers created an algorithm to score menu items, but some items did not have enough information in the database to be scored, so the researchers turned to crowdsourcing. Participants underwent a brief training to learn how much fruit, vegetables and nuts were in certain foods, and then rated the fruit, vegetable and nut content of menu items, Lesser said. [Lose Weight Smartly: 7 Little-Known Tricks That Shave Pounds]

Here are the 10 healthiest restaurant chains (with their scores), according to the site:


The 10 Healthiest Chain Restaurants In The U.S.

NEW ORLEANS — A new website ranks popular restaurant chains in the United States based on the healthiness of their food, and aims to make it easier for people to find healthy options when they eat out.

The website, called Grellin, uses nutrition information from meals at 100 of the nation's restaurant chains, and ranks the restaurants based on the proportion of their meals that qualify as "healthy." The researchers call this percentage the "Grellin grade."

Some of the restaurants that ranked as the healthiest include Au Bon Pain, Rubio's and Subway, which had more than 50 percent of their menu items meet the criteria for healthiness.

Dr. Lenard Lesser, of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, said the website was inspired by restaurant inspection grades, which people may use to determine if they want to eat at a certain restaurant.

"We hope that people tend to go towards restaurants that have a higher percentage of their menu that is healthy," and that restaurants with more healthy items get more customers, Lesser told Live Science. The website was announced today (Nov. 19) here at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.

To rank the restaurants, the researchers turned to a database called MenuStat to collect published nutrition information on menu items.

Then, the researchers gave food items a nutrition score out of 100, based on their nutrient content and the percentage of fruits, nuts and vegetables that the item had. Menu items that scored above 64 on nutrient content, and had fewer than 700 calories, were considered healthy.

The researchers created an algorithm to score menu items, but some items did not have enough information in the database to be scored, so the researchers turned to crowdsourcing. Participants underwent a brief training to learn how much fruit, vegetables and nuts were in certain foods, and then rated the fruit, vegetable and nut content of menu items, Lesser said. [Lose Weight Smartly: 7 Little-Known Tricks That Shave Pounds]

Here are the 10 healthiest restaurant chains (with their scores), according to the site:


The 10 Healthiest Chain Restaurants In The U.S.

NEW ORLEANS — A new website ranks popular restaurant chains in the United States based on the healthiness of their food, and aims to make it easier for people to find healthy options when they eat out.

The website, called Grellin, uses nutrition information from meals at 100 of the nation's restaurant chains, and ranks the restaurants based on the proportion of their meals that qualify as "healthy." The researchers call this percentage the "Grellin grade."

Some of the restaurants that ranked as the healthiest include Au Bon Pain, Rubio's and Subway, which had more than 50 percent of their menu items meet the criteria for healthiness.

Dr. Lenard Lesser, of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, said the website was inspired by restaurant inspection grades, which people may use to determine if they want to eat at a certain restaurant.

"We hope that people tend to go towards restaurants that have a higher percentage of their menu that is healthy," and that restaurants with more healthy items get more customers, Lesser told Live Science. The website was announced today (Nov. 19) here at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.

To rank the restaurants, the researchers turned to a database called MenuStat to collect published nutrition information on menu items.

Then, the researchers gave food items a nutrition score out of 100, based on their nutrient content and the percentage of fruits, nuts and vegetables that the item had. Menu items that scored above 64 on nutrient content, and had fewer than 700 calories, were considered healthy.

The researchers created an algorithm to score menu items, but some items did not have enough information in the database to be scored, so the researchers turned to crowdsourcing. Participants underwent a brief training to learn how much fruit, vegetables and nuts were in certain foods, and then rated the fruit, vegetable and nut content of menu items, Lesser said. [Lose Weight Smartly: 7 Little-Known Tricks That Shave Pounds]

Here are the 10 healthiest restaurant chains (with their scores), according to the site:


The 10 Healthiest Chain Restaurants In The U.S.

NEW ORLEANS — A new website ranks popular restaurant chains in the United States based on the healthiness of their food, and aims to make it easier for people to find healthy options when they eat out.

The website, called Grellin, uses nutrition information from meals at 100 of the nation's restaurant chains, and ranks the restaurants based on the proportion of their meals that qualify as "healthy." The researchers call this percentage the "Grellin grade."

Some of the restaurants that ranked as the healthiest include Au Bon Pain, Rubio's and Subway, which had more than 50 percent of their menu items meet the criteria for healthiness.

Dr. Lenard Lesser, of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, said the website was inspired by restaurant inspection grades, which people may use to determine if they want to eat at a certain restaurant.

"We hope that people tend to go towards restaurants that have a higher percentage of their menu that is healthy," and that restaurants with more healthy items get more customers, Lesser told Live Science. The website was announced today (Nov. 19) here at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.

To rank the restaurants, the researchers turned to a database called MenuStat to collect published nutrition information on menu items.

Then, the researchers gave food items a nutrition score out of 100, based on their nutrient content and the percentage of fruits, nuts and vegetables that the item had. Menu items that scored above 64 on nutrient content, and had fewer than 700 calories, were considered healthy.

The researchers created an algorithm to score menu items, but some items did not have enough information in the database to be scored, so the researchers turned to crowdsourcing. Participants underwent a brief training to learn how much fruit, vegetables and nuts were in certain foods, and then rated the fruit, vegetable and nut content of menu items, Lesser said. [Lose Weight Smartly: 7 Little-Known Tricks That Shave Pounds]

Here are the 10 healthiest restaurant chains (with their scores), according to the site:


The 10 Healthiest Chain Restaurants In The U.S.

NEW ORLEANS — A new website ranks popular restaurant chains in the United States based on the healthiness of their food, and aims to make it easier for people to find healthy options when they eat out.

The website, called Grellin, uses nutrition information from meals at 100 of the nation's restaurant chains, and ranks the restaurants based on the proportion of their meals that qualify as "healthy." The researchers call this percentage the "Grellin grade."

Some of the restaurants that ranked as the healthiest include Au Bon Pain, Rubio's and Subway, which had more than 50 percent of their menu items meet the criteria for healthiness.

Dr. Lenard Lesser, of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, said the website was inspired by restaurant inspection grades, which people may use to determine if they want to eat at a certain restaurant.

"We hope that people tend to go towards restaurants that have a higher percentage of their menu that is healthy," and that restaurants with more healthy items get more customers, Lesser told Live Science. The website was announced today (Nov. 19) here at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.

To rank the restaurants, the researchers turned to a database called MenuStat to collect published nutrition information on menu items.

Then, the researchers gave food items a nutrition score out of 100, based on their nutrient content and the percentage of fruits, nuts and vegetables that the item had. Menu items that scored above 64 on nutrient content, and had fewer than 700 calories, were considered healthy.

The researchers created an algorithm to score menu items, but some items did not have enough information in the database to be scored, so the researchers turned to crowdsourcing. Participants underwent a brief training to learn how much fruit, vegetables and nuts were in certain foods, and then rated the fruit, vegetable and nut content of menu items, Lesser said. [Lose Weight Smartly: 7 Little-Known Tricks That Shave Pounds]

Here are the 10 healthiest restaurant chains (with their scores), according to the site:


The 10 Healthiest Chain Restaurants In The U.S.

NEW ORLEANS — A new website ranks popular restaurant chains in the United States based on the healthiness of their food, and aims to make it easier for people to find healthy options when they eat out.

The website, called Grellin, uses nutrition information from meals at 100 of the nation's restaurant chains, and ranks the restaurants based on the proportion of their meals that qualify as "healthy." The researchers call this percentage the "Grellin grade."

Some of the restaurants that ranked as the healthiest include Au Bon Pain, Rubio's and Subway, which had more than 50 percent of their menu items meet the criteria for healthiness.

Dr. Lenard Lesser, of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, said the website was inspired by restaurant inspection grades, which people may use to determine if they want to eat at a certain restaurant.

"We hope that people tend to go towards restaurants that have a higher percentage of their menu that is healthy," and that restaurants with more healthy items get more customers, Lesser told Live Science. The website was announced today (Nov. 19) here at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association.

To rank the restaurants, the researchers turned to a database called MenuStat to collect published nutrition information on menu items.

Then, the researchers gave food items a nutrition score out of 100, based on their nutrient content and the percentage of fruits, nuts and vegetables that the item had. Menu items that scored above 64 on nutrient content, and had fewer than 700 calories, were considered healthy.

The researchers created an algorithm to score menu items, but some items did not have enough information in the database to be scored, so the researchers turned to crowdsourcing. Participants underwent a brief training to learn how much fruit, vegetables and nuts were in certain foods, and then rated the fruit, vegetable and nut content of menu items, Lesser said. [Lose Weight Smartly: 7 Little-Known Tricks That Shave Pounds]

Here are the 10 healthiest restaurant chains (with their scores), according to the site: