Well, 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!
McDonalds Fact Check
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 we’ve paired our muffin with a cream and sugar-filled coffee. These could be extra calories we don’t really need.
430 Calories, So What?!
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.
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.
Real Ingredients? Think again.
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.
A Little on Ingredient Lists
Did you know that ingredient lists are in order by weight? So that means that the first ingredients on the list have the largest proportions in a product. This muffin in particular lists ‘sugar’, and ‘enriched wheat flour’ as its first two ingredients. Enriched wheat flour means white, so this is by no means a ‘healthy whole grain muffin.’ Check out the ingredients list for yourself, here.
But, Whole Grains…
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. Technically McDonalds cannot lie in their advertising! However, 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’s worth…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 AFTER the chocolate! By weight, there is more chocolate in this muffin than whole grains. Not to mention, this one muffin provides us with 20% of our daily sodium. Absurd.
The Bottom Line
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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