“As far as chains are concerned, Nando’s is actually one of the better options,” says Shelley. “The lean protein from the chicken and the array of customisable sides and meal deals make it a tasty and nutritious choice for the health-conscious, so long as you are smart with your choices."
Starter: Spicy Mixed Olives
Olives are a great source of monounsaturated fats and these contain nearly 4g of fibre per portion, meaning they can be a useful addition to reaching the recommended 30g a day. They are however high in salt (4.6g), so get some for the table to share rather than eating the whole portion to yourself.
Main: ¼ Chicken Breast
All the chicken at Nando’s is grilled, making it a much healthier choice compared to many popular fast food restaurants. Chicken breast is the leanest cut of meat to choose, containing less total and saturated fat and more protein compared to the same portion size of chicken leg. For comparison, the ¼ chicken breast in medium spice contains 3.8g of saturated fat and 51.6g of protein, while the ¼ chicken leg contains 4.3g of saturated fat and nearly half the protein (28.6g), making the chicken breast a leaner, protein-filled choice. This portion size also provides 343kcals, so you won’t be overconsuming calories either.
Sauces: Plain…(ish), Lemon & Herb or Medium
Of all the spice levels available, these contain the least number of calories, salt and sugar, so are the best choices for your next peri-peri chicken fix. Though there isn’t a huge difference between the three, Plain…(ish) tops the list, providing just 3.4g of salt and 0.6g of sugar for a whole chicken.
Sides: Macho Peas, Long Stem Broccoli or Spicy Rice
To make a balanced meal, choose two sides with your chicken – one vegetable and one carbohydrate based. Out of the carbohydrate options, the regular spicy rice is my pick – it’s low in sugar and saturated fat and provides a moderate amount of both fibre (3.9g) and protein (3.8g). Almost all of the vegetable sides are good options, but personal favourites are the macho peas and long stem broccoli; green vegetables are a good source of folate, iron, and potassium, while peas and broccoli in particular are vegetables high in protein, with these sides offering 7.7g and 2.8g, respectively.
THE NOT SO GOOD…
Starter: Halloumi Sticks & Dip
The halloumi dish has the lowest fibre content of all the starters available at Nando’s, providing just 0.2g. It’s also the highest in saturated fat, containing more than 50% of your recommended intake. As the dish comes with a sweet chilli dip, it is also much higher in sugar than the other dishes, providing more than a third (11.8g) of the recommended daily amount.
Main: 15 Chicken Wings
We all know how easy it is to get through a pile of chicken wings, but 15 of these will add a whopping 1,199 calories to your meal – that’s more than the whole chicken. Not to mention they provide more than 100% of your recommended intake of salt and are higher in saturated fat than the chicken breast. If you have a craving for chicken wings, stick to the smaller three- or five-wing portions.
Sauces: Hot, Extra Hot or Coconut & Lemon
These sauces are higher in both salt and sugar compared to the others available. In fact, the extra hot spice baste contains 5.2g of salt, nearly double the amount of the Plain…(ish) baste. Not to mention, the high spice level may cause indigestion and acid reflux for some (and a lot of discomfort while eating). The Coconut & Lemon sauce also contains around 2g more sugar and saturated fat than every other spice baste available, so steer clear of that one.
Sides: Creamy Mash, Garlic Bread or Coleslaw
Both the creamy mash and garlic bread are high in calories (around 340kcals each), while providing little fibre. Choosing two of these sides to go with your chicken could easily see your meal passing way over 1,000 calories. Of the vegetable sides, coleslaw would be the one to avoid – it is much more calorie dense and higher in fat compared to the other veggie options.
A healthy, balanced and delicious meal option at Nando’s would be a ¼ Lemon & Herb chicken breast, served with macho peas and spicy rice. Go easy on extra sauces or dips as these are often laden in calories, saturated fat and salt. Finally, be careful when ordering drinks – choose water or sugar-free soft drinks (such as Diet Coke) to avoid drinking a lot of empty calories.
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