I love McDonald’s French Fries. Their crispy, salty and so easy to eat. Like many of you, I grew up eating McDonald’s fries as a kid. I have so many childhood memories that are directly linked to having McDonald’s fries with friends and family. From ‘super-sizing’ to ‘value meals’ McDonald’s has always done a great job marketing their fries as a great snack, appetizer, main meal and dessert.
So our question to you is: Do you know what’s really inside McDonald’s French Fries? Do you know the ingredients and the nutritional value (or lack of) of these tasty treats? Well, we’ll try to break down what’s really inside McDonald’s fries in this article and we’ll leave you with some frightening and some less scary thoughts and conclusions about our findings.
Plus, McDonald’s French Fries are actually NOT VEGETARIAN food. You’ll see why…
THE INGREDIENTS of McDonald’s Fries (5.4 oz large French Fries)
Here’s a quick rundown of the actual listed ingredients on McDonald’s Fries so that everyone is aware of what’s really inside them:
Vegetable Oil (natural beef flavor*, hydrogenated soybean oil, canola oil)
Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate***
In addition, the oil used in the frying technique contains tertiary butylhydroquinone (TBHQ).
* The ‘natural beef flavor’ in the vegetable oil ingredient contains both hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk as its starting ingredients.
** Citric acid is the preservative for McDonald’s fries
*** Sodium acid pyrophosphate maintains the beautiful color of the French fries
THE NUTRITION FACTS about McDonald’s Fries
Here’s a breakdown of the nutritional value of McDonald’s French Fries:
Fat: 25 grams
Carbohydrates: 63 grams
Sodium: 350 mg
Fiber: 6 grams
Protein: 6 grams
AN EXPLANATION OF THE PREPARATION INGREDIENTS in McDonald’s Fries
In order to get that yummy, crispy, greasy, and addictive taste, McDonald’s fries are double fried before they get onto your plate. These otherwise healthy and starchy potatoes are cut, boiled and fried once before they are even shipped to the restaurants. And then, they are fried once again before they make it into your Happy Meal. By then, they don’t really even resemble potatoes any more.
So what’s really inside McDonald’s fries? Well, the deep frying process gives us a taste of what’s actually in them in order to make them so delicious and addictive.
Dr. Ochner, a respected New York Obesity Nutrition Research Centre research associate, has studied health and nutrition for many years. In the case of the questions: what’s really inside McDonald’s fries, he summarizes the ‘Canola Oil’ ingredient has low grade corn oil or soybean oil. Although ‘healthier’ then some other oils, Dr. Ochner mentions that the canola oil is used in deep frying the McDonald’s fries, which in any circumstance is NOT good for your health. In addition, canola oil (both corn and soybean oils) are very high in calories and if you consume too many McDonald’s fries, you will end up GAINING WEIGHT just from the oil intake itself.
Secondly, the Hydrogenated Soybean Oil comes about through the ‘saturation’ of regular soybean oil. Through a complex and clearly unnatural process called HYDROGENATION, soybean oil changes from unsaturated to saturated fats. Now why is HYDROGENATED Soybean Oil used in McDonald’s French Fries preparation? Well, saturated fats like hydrogenated soybean oil is easier to cook/fry with and in addition, boosts the PRESERVATION time of the fries. What most consumers don’t realize is that saturated fats become TRANS FATS. These unhealthy fats also lead to all sorts of health problems, most notably, heart diseases, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Although the FDA requires ‘zero trans fat per serving’, it really isn’t ZERO. It’s LESS THAN 1 GRAM PER TABLESPOON and through this glaring loophole, McDonald’s is able to serve these unhealthy French Fries without changing the preparation or ingredients.
Thirdly, Citric Acid is used as the preservative for these fries. So when you look at what’s inside McDonald’s fries, it’s actually quite scary. Although citric acid is deemed ‘safe’ for consumption, you can clearly see its effects on preserving McDonald’s French Fries for longer than 2 months as seen in Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock’s amazing 2004 documentary about the Fast Food industry.
Fourthly, Natural Beef Flavor is an ingredient used in the preparation of those yummy McDonald’s French Fries. The name itself is actually quite disturbing to us … what do you think? The history surrounding the ‘natural beef flavour’ is that McDonald’s French Fries used to be cooked in beef fat. That was until beef fat became too expensive and hard to come by. That’s when McDonald’s decided to change to canola oil and hydrogenated soybean oil. In order to keep the delicious ‘beef flavor’, McDonald’s had to concoct a natural beef flavor to RESEMBLE the real thing. The flavoring contains both hydrolyzed milk and hydrolyzed wheat products.
So what are the big ramifications for this switch to ‘natural beef flavor’? Well, McDonald’s fries are actually NOT CONSIDERED VEGETARIAN FOOD anymore! Because of the hydrolyzed wheat and milk products in the natural beef flavoring, McDonald’s was sued in 2002 when members of a Hindu community filed claims that McDonald’s did not disclose how the French Fries were prepared. And guess what? They won a $10 million payout.
Lastly, Tertiary Butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) is a scary and very effective preservative used in the preparation of McDonald’s French Fries. Remember what Kris Carr always says …. If the food lasts longer than we do, just don’t eat it! Not only that, but recent studies have linked TBHQ to DNA damage through generations as well as stomach ulcers.
AN EXPLANATION OF OTHER INGREDIENTS in McDonald’s French Fries
Now that we’ve covered the preparation/frying ingredients used in our most beloved fries, here are some details about the other ingredients used in them.
Firstly, Dimethylpolysiloxane is a SILICON product used as an ANTI-FOAMING AGENT before the cut potatoes are shipped. This is used possibly for fewer ‘spill’s and therefore, less clean up. We need to do more research to see if dimethylpolysiloxane is harmful if consumed.
Secondly, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate is another preservative used in McDonald’s fries. This time, it’s used to keep the beautiful golden color. It’s also used in many muffin/pancake mixes, waffles, puddings and cakes and also canned fish, cured meats and flavored milk. Yuk! And remember, if sodium acid pyrophosphate is not used on McDonald’s French Fries, they would turn BLACK within days.
Thirdly, Dextrose is the 3rd ingredient listed, which means that in terms of quantity of ingredients, dextrose comes just after potatoes and oil. As we all know, dextrose is sugar which obviously is used to make us addicted to the fries.
OUR CONCLUSION about What’s Inside McDonald’s Fries
None of the ingredients in McDonald’s French Fries would fit in the Just Add Good Stuff recommendation list. As you know, we are all about raw organic foods that are gluten and dairy free. Having said that, we can also conclude that most of these ingredients in McDonald’s Fries and what’s actually inside them is very UNHEALTHY for ANYONE to consume. These hidden ingredients are actually what makes them so delicious and addictive at the same time.
The processed, non-organic potatoes used in McDonald’s French Fries should already cause alarm bells ringing. Add to it the many preservatives and saturated fats (through highly refined oils) and you have a visit to the hospital. Then, add a dash of sugar and it will keep you coming back for more. Remember that McDonald’s Fries are full of empty calories which means that they won’t fill you up with much nutrients. On the contrary, they will make you crave even more unhealthy saturated, salty and sweet foods.
Having done a study on what’s inside McDonald’s French Fries, we can also conclude that McDonald’s nor it’s fries are the only or worst culprit. There are many other fast food products served that are much worse. These include:
KFC’s Chicken Pot Pie = 790 calories and 45 grams of fat
McDonald’s Angus Bacon & Cheese Burger = 820 calories and 41 grams of fat
Burger King’s Double Whopper = 830 calories and 50 grams of fat
Other ‘healthy alternatives’ are also not very healthy. Take for instance the Hardee’s Gluten Sensitive Low Car Breakfast Bowl which contains 740 calories and 61 grams of fat.
Our recommendation is to gradually take out the bad stuff in your diet and replace them with true whole foods, plant based nutritional foods.
The New York Obesity Nutrition Research Center
Hardee’s: Gluten Sensitive – Low Carb Breakfast Bowl
Burger King: Nutrition Facts
KFC: KFC’s Nutrition Guide
60 Minutes: Is Sugar Toxic?
Morgan Spurlock: Super Size Me
SciVerse: Toxicology of Tert-butylhydroquinone (TBHQ)
McDonald’s: McDonald’s History
McDonald’s: McDonald’s Nutrition Facts
Luz Plaza: What’s Really Inside Those McDonald’s French Fries