To zero in on the healthiest restaurants, we separated national chains that offer sit-down service from those that have primarily counter or fast service and scored each group based on criteria from our expert panel.
Out of the 43 sit-down and 53 fast-service chains that we initially looked at, those that did not provide any nutritional information were automatically eliminated and not listed here (maybe next year, Cheesecake Factory!). The rest were judged on healthy food preparation; the availability of organic or hormone-free foods; whole grains on the menu; limited or no trans-fats in all dishes; low-sodium options; healthy beverages; and portion control; as well as how easily you, the customer, can access nutritional information—so you know exactly what youre getting in your spaghetti and meatballs.
Editor's Note: We apologize for not posting the entire list of restaurants that were initially considered. Because this piece originally appeared in Health magazine with space restraints, we chose to only publish those sit-down dining and fast-food establishments that made the top (and a few at the bottom) of our list. Thank you for your feedback, and we will keep this in mind when we compile our next America's Healthiest ranking.
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