Nutrition and Diet

What’s Really In McDonald’s Banana Chocolate Chunk Muffin?

McDonalds has done it again. I guess I can’t be too annoyed because they’re always giving me great content to write about!

This time their latest radio ad is all about their new banana chocolate chunk muffin. Made with REAL bananas and a whopping 8 grams of whole grains. Perfect with that morning coffee, or as a snack!

Another great example of the sneaky advertising fast food restaurants are so good at. As slightly misleading as their promotions can be at face value, the nutrition facts and ingredients lists don’t lie. The problem is, most of us don’t actually understand HOW to read and interpret this information to help us make better food choices. So I’m here to help!

The first thing that is important to note is that as healthy as this muffin is made to sound, it contains 430 calories.

That’s more calories than a double cheeseburger

That’s more calories than 10 chicken nuggets

That’s more calories than a medium fry

That’s more calories than their chocolate chunk brownie

Now, a 430 calorie meal isn’t unreasonable. Most of us at breakfast lunch or supper probably should eat somewhere around that amount, or even a little more. As a quick snack though, 430 calories can be a lot. Especially if it’s extra calories we don’t really need. Especially if we’ve paired our muffin with a cream and sugar-filled coffee.

So, the problem may not really be the fact that the muffin is 430 calories, the problem is where these 430 calories are coming from.

13 grams of fat and 40 grams of sugar. FORTY GRAMS!

That means that there is the equivalent of 3 teaspoons of oil and 10 teaspoons of sugar in this ‘muffin’. Keep in mind that 10 tsp is more than our limit for added sugars in a day (you can read more about sugar and it’s impact on health here).

10 teaspoons of sugar is the equivalent of a can of coke.

When you bake muffins at home, do you put a full cup of oil and 2.5 cups of sugar into your healthy banana muffin recipe?

Sure, some of the sugar in this muffin comes from all that “real” banana McDonalds keeps bragging about. But how much banana can you fit into a single muffin? An entire banana is only 15 grams of carbs, and I’d bet my nutrition degree that there isn’t an entire banana in even a dozen of these muffins.

Especially considering the first ingredient on the list is SUGAR.

FYI- Did you know that ingredient lists are in order by weight? So that means that the first ingredients on the list are in the largest amounts in a product. This muffin in particular lists sugar, and ‘enriched wheat flour’ as it’s first two. Enriched wheat flour means white, so this is by no means a ‘healthy whole grain muffin’

What about the claim that this muffin contains 8 grams of whole grains? Shouldn’t that get it some brownie points?

Oh I’m sure it does (because they technically cannot lie in their advertising!)… but 8 grams of whole grains is not the same as containing 8 grams of fibre (which is what’s actually important about eating whole grains). In reality it means that there is 8 grams of whole grains by total weight in this muffin- the equivalent of about a tablespoon…pathetic. If you look at the ingredient list for this muffin you’ll see that the whole grains (a mix of oat and wheat flours) are actually listed BELOW the chocolate! By weight, there is more chocolate in this muffin than whole grains.

Also of note, this muffin provides us with 20% of our daily sodium. Absurd.

So, let’s call a spade a spade. This muffin is nothing more than a cupcake dressed up with some healthy sounding buzzwords. You can choose to eat the muffin or not, but where we run into trouble is thinking we’ve made a healthy choice when we really haven’t.

Next time, just get the brownie.

Read more about what’s really in your fast food here: Don’t Get Too Excited About McDonald’s New High Protein Smoothies

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