Healthy options at McDonald’s, not so healthy

By: Kelsey Megard Columnist

 Known for its fatty and greasy goodness, McDonald’s does offer some “healthier” options. If you go to McDonald’s website you will be able to find their “Favorites Under 400.” McDonald’s Under 400 slogan is “so many choices with so little calories.” True McDonald’s, there are few calories but also few nutrients.

Before analyzing McDonald’s “healthy” menu, there are a few important things to know. Mayo Clinic reports that the average American gets about 3,400 milligrams of sodium a day but recommends only 2,300mg of sodium a day. Mayo Clinic also recommends 400 to 700 calories from fat per day based on a 2,000-calorie diet. We need to know these recommendations so we can analyze how healthy McDonald’s food really is.

I preach about how important it is to consume fruits and vegetables at the same rate as carbohydrates, because it really is important! The average meal should be ¼ vegetables, ¼ fruit, ¼ grains, and ¼ protein (or as close to that as you can get). When looking at McDonald’s healthy menu it is key to remember that you need fruits and veggies not buns and French fries.

*None of these include sauces, salad dressing, or additional condiments.

The classic cheeseburger made the under 400 list. The cheeseburger has 290 calories but don’t worry, only 100 are from fat. It also is packed with 680mg of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates and 7g sugars. The one positive this little cheeseburger has going for it is the 15g of protein.

The premium grilled chicken classic sandwich has 350 calories (without mayo). It beats the cheeseburger by only having 80 calories from fat but topples the cheeseburger with 820mg of sodium. It has 42g carbohydrates, 8g sugar, and 28g proteins.

Let’s look at a salad. Salads are healthy, right? The premium southwest salad with grilled chicken has 290 calories (without dressing). One packet of Newman’s own Southwest Dressing has 100 calories per packet, which takes this salad to 390 calories. This salad is filled with 680 mg of sodium and 80 calories from fat. While it is good to eat vegetables, iceberg lettuce has very small nutritional value. It has 28g of carbohydrates and 27g of protein.

Fruit & maple oatmeal has only 100 calories but essentially no other value to it. It has 19g of carbohydrates, 15mg sodium, and 18g of sugar. It has almost as much sugar as it has oatmeal. By ordering the healthy sounding fruit & maple oatmeal, you are only consuming basic carbs and sugar. The 1g of protein does not add enough nutritional value to consider this a “healthy” meal.

McDonald’s breakfast has always been a hot commodity. The signature breakfast sandwich, the Egg McMuffin, has 300 calories. On a positive note, it has 17g of protein. On a negative note, it has 13g fat, 31g carbs, and 750mg of sodium.

These foods are filled with empty fat calories, carbohydrates and sodium. The “Under 400 Menu” only redeeming quality is most of the options have some protein.

The “Under 400 Menu” only remains under 400 calories as long as you don’t have a side or anything to drink. A small fry add another 230 calories to your meal, 100 of those calories from fat. The french fry potato goodness is packed with 130mg of sodium and 30g of carbohydrates. Side note: potatoes fried in grease and covered in salt do not qualify as a vegetable.

Obesity is taking control of the U.S. and it could be managed if people would take the time to understand what they are putting into their bodies. Carbohydrates and sodium are cheap and easy to come by but we, as a people need to consume more fruits and vegetables. We also need to acknowledge that if something says “healthy” it may not always be healthy. We as consumers have the power to make cooperation’s such as McDonald’s offer healthier options with actual nutrients.