What’s in a McDonald’s hamburger? A 100% beef patty that’s seasoned with a pinch of salt and pepper, topped with melty cheese, tangy pickles, minced onions, and (of course) ketchup and mustard. Duh.
Sounds pretty good, right? This is how the McDonad’s hamburger is advertised. Sounds simple enough. And from a real food perspective, it sounds… well, real.
Check out some of my other favorite healthy living articles:
- Could Processed Carbs Be as Addictive as Drugs
- 5 Important Factors That Could Be Making You Pack On the Pounds
- 8 Foods That Help You Burn More Calories Than They Contain
- Do You Know What’s in the Meat You’re Buying
- Is Red Meat Getting a Bad Rap
But what’s REALLY is in a McDonald’s hamburger?
Ah, I’m glad you asked.
The McDonald’s hamburger deconstructed
Let’s take a quick look at what’s in a McDonald’s hamburger as outlined in their nutritional information. It shows a fairly harmless ingredient list:
- 100% beef patty
- regular bun
- pasteurized process American cheese
- pickle slices
Despite what many Americans think, I don’t see hamburgers as the typical “junk food” villain. Under the right circumstances, I am totally game for a real hamburger. And by “real” I mean that the beef is grass-fed, the cheese isn’t processed, the bun is sourdough or sprouted, and the condiments are not full of nasty stuff.
Not too surprising, but the McDonald’s hamburger isn’t quite so real. In fact, you have to scroll down their 30 page nutritional information guide to get the whole scary truth.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
What’s REALLY in a McDonald’s Hamburger: The Ingredient Breakdown
100% Beef Patty:
Ingredients: 100% pure USDA inspected beef; no fillers, no extenders. Prepared with grill seasoning (salt, black pepper).
Thankfully, McDonald’s and several other chains recently stopped using the “pink slime” in their beef. But the vast majority of fast food beef comes from CAFO (concentrated agricultural feeding operation) cows. Not only is this horrible for the animals and the environment, but eating meat from sick animals will only make you sick. Eat a McDonald’s hamburger and you might be getting a mouth full of antibiotics, hormones, and dangerous bacteria.
Ingredients: Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar, yeast, soybean oil and/or canola oil, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, wheat gluten, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, ammonium sulfate, ammonium chloride, dough conditioners (may contain one or more of the following: sodium stearoyl lactylate, datem, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated monoglycerides, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, guar gum, calcium peroxide), sorbic acid, calcium propionate and/or sodium propionate (preservatives), soy lecithin.
Oh boy. Where do I start? How about we just look at the length of this ingredient list. All of this for a bun? Did you know you can make your own bread using just flour, salt, and water? Seriously. The extra 20 – 30 ingredients here is stuff your body doesn’t need.
Lets look at just a few of the above ingredients:
- Ammonium chloride… sounds tasty right? Did you know it is also an ingredient in fireworks, safety matches and contact explosives? Eat up.
- Ammonium sulfate is used most commonly as an artificial fertilizer for alkaline soils. It’s also in flame retardant materials. Ammonium sulfate activates yeast, so it helps to get industrially produced bread to rise.
- The soybean and/or canola oil used here are most likely GMO. They are also foods I generally avoid for a number of reasons.
- The high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), despite the desperate marketing strategies to persuade otherwise, is not natural. And because it’s in so much of our processed foods, not only is it hard to avoid, but it can be doing major damage to your health.
- “Enriched” flour sounds harmless enough. But “enriched” just means that all the nutrition was taken out in the first place. Refined flours are also hard for your body to digest, even before the mess of chemicals are added to it.
I can’t even get through this whole list. But I think you get the point. Nothing really healthy or real here. Continue reading…