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What's so bad about McDonald's french fries?

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I always thought of McDonald's as junk food and terribly unhealthy.  But for fun, I looked up the nutritional information of the french fries, which I always associate with McDonald's, and have found that it really isn't that bad!  There is fiber, protein, and most of the fat that is found in it isn't even saturated.  Why is it considered so unhealthy?

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one word... salt!

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You looked up French Fries under the Fast Food section, and you see nothing wrong with what was there?

1 large fry has 539 calories in it!  539 calories is 2 of my meals (275 calories each) which include vegetables, healthy carbs, and lean protein.

They have 44% of your daily fat intake!  Considering you are supposed to be under 10% (per serving) of fat intake for a healthy diet...Gee, I don't know what's wrong with French Fries...

Well, at least the fat isn't all saturated.  Plus fats aren't that bad if everything else you eat is healthy, in vegetables and fruit and whole-grains.  Besides, I was looking at the value of the small fries.  And I don't know where you heard about under 10% fat for a healthy diet, but most sites seem to be recommending about 20-30%, since they're supposed to aid in digestion or something like that...



Looked up french fries on the McDonald's website and saw something interesting there.

1 SMALL fry has 230 calories in it. While this is almost as much as one of your meals, not everyone eats just like you. So if I had a calorie deficit in this range and really wanted a fry treat I'd be comfortable with it.

They have 11% of your daily fat intake. Which according to you is pretty darn close to the serving allowance for a healthy diet... Gee I don't know why you feel the need to super size...

Now, personally I avoid potatoes in general. It's hard to eat just one! But I LOVE McDonald's fries, so like I said for an OCCASIONAL treat it shouldn't kill your diet. For me moderation is the key.

Combined with a sandwich or salad, with the added small fries, it would make a reasonably-sized 400-500 calorie meal. Additionally, fats really are important in a diet...are you limiting the amount of calories alloted to fat in your diet? Ideally, I think a person is really supposed to have 30% of their calories toward fat in a day. And for a meal, 11% fat isn't that bad either.


Edit: additionally, the salt content isn't that bad either actually.  Just as long as you're not one of those people who add a ridiculous amount of extra salt or ketchup onto the fries.

They're just horribly imbalanced... too much fat and salt.  Potatoes are healthy things... lots of vitamin C, fibre etc.  But when they are cut so thinly and deep-fried they absorb far too much oil.  Even unsaturated fats are bad in large amounts.  If  we ate french-fries by in 1oz portions as a garnish we'd probably get away with it.  But they shouldn't be the main part of any meal.

As a wider point.... the manufacturers of a lot of unhealthy foods try to fox us that they contain 'good nutrition'.   All food begins life reasonably healthy but it's what happens to it next that is important.  Just because something tells you it's got fibre and protein doesn't stop it being unhealthy.

Okay, I agree that if you ate a large french fries order at every meal, that would be too much fat consumption.  But how is eating french fries different from taking a few tablespoons of olive oil and putting it in your salad?

Original Post by gi-jane:

They're just horribly imbalanced... too much fat and salt.

Not that I think french fries are the most healthy food out there, but if you take most any meal and look at just ONE part of it then you will often find an imbalance.

Don't confuse your fats and carbs. When talking about daily fat intake they are talking about all fats combined. You do not need transfats to live. These are man made fats and should be avoided. Saturated fat is also a bad fat but you must have "some" very little.  You want to get most of your fat from Monounsaturated Fat and Polyunsaturated Fats.

Saturated fat

Saturated fats raise your total cholesterol levels as well as LDL cholesterol. It clogs your arteries with plaque, which increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. Saturated fats are found in things like animal products, meat, dairy and also some plant procucts. Everyone gets some saturated fat and a small amount is needed but it is best to limit your intake of saturated fat.

Trans Fat

Trans fats are not natural. Trans fats come from hydrogenated liquid oils. Trans fats are found in products such as packaged foods, fried foods, margarine, some vegetable oils and fast foods.

Trans fats offer no health benefits at all and unlike other types of fats, our bodies do not require transfats. Transfats also raise your LDL cholesterol levels and decrease your HDL cholesterol levels which is the good cholesterol. Studies have been done that may also link transfats to diabetes, cancer, obesity, heart disease and stroke.

Good fats

Monounsaturated Fat

Monounsaturated fats  have been found to lower total blood cholesterol levels (LDL) while increasing good (HDL) cholesterol levels.

Monounsaturated fats are found in foods like nuts, canola and olive oil, avocados, pumpkin and sesame seeds and some other foods.

Polyunsaturated Fats

Polyunsaturated fats have also been found to have positive effects on cholesterol. Sources of polyunsaturated fats are seafood, fish oil, soy products, corn products, safflower and sunflower oils and pumpkin seed.


Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Studies have shown that these fats have been beneficial in treating many types of diseases such as depression, anxiety disorders, ADD and OCD, helps to prevent clogging  of the arteries, reduces bad cholesterol levels and many other things. Sources of Omega-3 fatty acids are most kinds of fish, tuna, herring, mackerel, trout and salmon. Also found in foods like walnuts and other nuts, tofu, Flax seeds and canola oil.

There are simple carbs and complex carbs. If you eat clean and are interested in nutrition you limit your simple carbs (McDonald French Fries included :)) and eat complex carbs.

Everyone cheats once in a while but to believe that McDonald fries are not bad for you is a misconception.

Nothing really good about McDonald or other fast food restaurants. Check out the link below. How many of their foods have preservatives, additives, Processed foods, simple carbs, sugar, Margarine, salt... on and on. tion.categories.ingredients.index.html

Ummmmm there are better choices than the McD fries...a McD Medium fry has 380 cals and 170 of them are fat so if I look at a 2000 calorie max a day and 1 fry is 380 cal I just ate 19% of my daily intake for a medium fry which is high in sodium.  There are much better choices which are higher in fiber and better nutritionally.  I guess McD fries are better than Outback bloomin onions :)

But how is eating french fries different from taking a few tablespoons of olive oil and putting it in your salad?

Fresh olive oil contains quite a lot of vitamins and minerals that are lost when heated to the temperatures required to deep-fry something.  

It's entirely down to you what you eat and how much.  There's nothing wrong with a few chips from time to time same as there's nothing wong with an occasional ice-cream or a little chocolate.  But don't kid yourself that you're eating any of those foods for their nutritional benefits because that's going too far :-)

I don't have a link to back it up, but I remember a article that said the the secret to Mc Donald's unique taste is they soak them in sugar water over night. I dont see it anywhere on their site, but I swear after I saw that article, the fries seem to taste sweet to me.

the bad news is I live in italy and they are just opening a mickey d's about 2 miles down the road. I have been able to avoid them as before I had to drive about 15 miles to go there and it was in an inconvenient locationFrown

I believe, (not positive about this) that they are using a corn/canola oil mix. Oilive oil is much different and better for you. Read up on the different kinds of oils. It comes down to personal choice. Everyone is different in how they eat. There  is clean eating, dieting, restricting... on and on. I personally eat clean so no McDonald's but that is not for everyone. 20Nutrition/Nutrition/oil_good.html s/a/goodfatsbadfats.htm nd_oils.html



Michael In Italy - I don't know, when I was in Italy, the McDonalds was just not as good as in the US. I'd go out of my way to avoid them.... Although, I didn't have the fried brie. ;-) 

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umm to answer the question posed in this thread: because they're McDonald's french fries hahahaha

and yea the McDonald's in Italy is definately different than those in the US...there is a McDonald's ironically close to my apartment in Italy, as well as my apartment in the US (globalization at it's best hahaha)....and I only eat there to get the occasional frozen yogurt thing they have for 150 calories or their fruit pouch thing hahahaha

Basically, they took potatos which are almost all carbohydrates and then they added a ton of fat to them.  Sure sounds healthy to me.  </sarcasm>

No way, when I was in Rome I got a beer with my mcmuffin. :)

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French fries don't provide your body with anything mroe than calories, fat and salt.  Maybe the fat is good or bad, that's not the point.  These treats provide your body with almost no vitamins and nutrients.  So you're basically eating empty calories...300 worth. 

If your big on eating mroe fat for your diet (because I agree fat is not evil), natural peanut butter can't be beat.  It's filling, has lots of good fats, andthe vitamins and nutrients your body needs. 

FF are junk food and I would never include them in my lifestyle as part of a meal.  If your dining at the Golden arches, I might suggest replacing FF with a yogurt and granola.  It's got a lot of sugar, but it at least provides more nutrients to your body.

Here is a really healthy way to make fires. Take a sweet potatoes, or a butternut squash. Cut up in fry shaped pieces. Put the pieces in a large bowl and season with your favorite seasonings. I use garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, red pepper. Sprinkle on the pieces and stir around until coated. Then spray a cookie sheet with non-fat olive oil cooking spray and bake in oven on about 350 until done. Golden brown. Absolutely delicious and so good for you. My husband who loves McDonald's fries said they are the best fries he has ever had.

I have healthy alternatives for almost everything. Tuna casserole, pasta and sauce, chili, burgers, roast and potatoes. My family loves what I cook and most of the time they do not know it is good for them. I make a baked ziti dish that my husband wants every week. Very healthy and full of nutrition so you can alter and adjust and still eat good.

The saying you are what you eat is so true.

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