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The #1 Best Meal To Order at KFC

This healthier KFC alternative is still filling and delicious.
FACT CHECKED BY Jordan Powers Willard

KFC is known for its crispy, tender fried chicken, creamy mashed potatoes and gravy, and warm biscuits. Aside from these timeless favorites, KFC also offers indulgences like mac and cheese bowls piled high with chicken tenders, Nashville hot tenders, and a decadent chocolate chip cake—not to mention, all of this can be enjoyed in family size to save time and money.

Although these options are delicious, affordable, and quick, they are also full of calories, saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars. While consuming processed food like this from time to time isn't going to drastically alter your health, eating it on a regular basis has been linked to an increased risk of weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.

Thankfully, most fast-food restaurants offer healthier options to help on those rushed days when you just need to pull into the drive-through on your way home. To learn more about some of the better options at KFC, we spoke to Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LDN, CLEC, and author of The First Time Mom's Pregnancy Cookbook and Fueling Male Fertility.

According to Manaker, one of the best meals you can order at KFC is a Kentucky Grilled chicken thigh with a side of corn on the cob and green beans. Read on to learn more about this meal, and for more healthy fast-food tips, check out 14 Surprisingly Healthy Fast Food Orders.

Kentucky Grilled Chicken from KFC
Courtesy of KFC Lincoln Nebraska via Facebook

1 GRILLED THIGH: 150 calories, 9g total fat (3g saturated fat), 420mg sodium, 0g total carbohydrates, 17g protein; 1 CORN ON THE COB: 70 calories, 0.5g total fat (0g saturated fat), 0mg sodium, 17g total carbohydrates (2g fiber, 3g sugar), 2g protein; 1 CUP OF GREEN BEANS: 25 calories, 0g total fat (0g saturated fat), 30mg sodium, 5g carbs (3g fiber, 1g sugar), 1g protein

"A Kentucky Grilled chicken thigh with a side of corn and green beans can be a balanced meal that isn't exceedingly high in saturated fat or calories. And while it is true that chicken breast is lower in fat, it is also much higher in sodium versus the thigh option," says Manaker.

At under 250 calories and with 3 grams of saturated fat for the entire meal, this is a much healthier choice than many of KFC's other chicken combos. For instance, if you were to order an Original Recipe fried chicken thigh with mac and cheese and Secret Recipe fries, you'd be looking at a total of 740 calories, 40 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, and 2,600 milligrams of sodium! Even if you kept the side of corn and green beans but indulged in a fried chicken thigh instead of grilled, you'd still be chowing down 20 grams of fat and 1,210 milligrams of sodium.

"Eating grilled chicken thighs with corn and green beans gives you a balance of protein, carbs, and fat that allows for a satiating meal that isn't too heavy or salty," claims Manaker.

The only other thing to note is that when ordering at most KFC locations, you can change most fried chicken meal options to Kentucky Grilled, or you can select a grilled chicken option from the "A La Carte" side of the menu.

At the end of the day, eating healthy is sometimes just about making small, consistent changes and finding what works for your daily life. In a perfect world, we'd have the time, money, and energy to prepare and cook healthy meals every day, but this isn't always the case. On some days, you'll need the ease of a fast food place like KFC, and thankfully you don't have to derail your health goals entirely just to eat your favorite chicken.

Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha