The survey, part of a market research report by Mintel Foodservice, also says 14 percent of restaurant-goers look for the cheapest items on the menu when deciding what to order.
"This kind of price sensitivity gives rise to the concern that, as people cut spending, they are also likely to cut back on healthy food options," Eric Giandelone, director of Mintel Foodservice, says in a statement.
"The perception that healthy foods are also higher priced is a challenge for restaurant operators, who are under their own pressure to add healthier menu items, not only from consumers but also the government."
Giandelone says the researcher indicates that healthy restaurant fare is expected to be fresher than average meals, but only half of restaurant patrons say that healthy meals rate higher than average meals in flavor, satiation, appearance and taste.
Mintel respondents say 510 calories is the average calorie count a healthy meal should contain, Giandelone says.
To eat healthy, the survey indicates 48 percent say they choose dishes that use healthy ingredients, 41 percent say they use menu calorie counts and 29 percent say they manage portion size by ordering smaller portions or taking home part of their meal.
The survey was conducted last January among a sample of 2,000 U.S. adults. The margin of error is 2 percentage points.