It’s tasty, tempting, cheap — and one of the absolute worst things you can possibly order at a fast food restaurant. No matter how much you crave that burger with everything on it, nutritionists say you should avoid ordering meat at a fast food restaurant because there’s a perfectly good reason why you’re paying peanuts for a meal that would cost you three times as much at a grocery store. You’re not getting a whole lot in return.
“Fast food establishments generally choose the cheapest cut of meat that they can find, to keep their costs low,” says Jolene Goring, a board certified nutritionist. “I mean, when you can buy a hamburger for $1, the fast food place needs to use the cheapest ingredients, which usually also mean that they are the lowest quality. When you buy a meat that is ground up and processed (like most fast food meats), you have NO IDEA what’s actually in there! They can use any part of the animal — ground up tongue and intestines anyone?”
The biggest difference between forking over $1.99 for a fast food burger and purchasing meat from a butcher or higher end restaurant is that the more expensive meat is usually in its natural state, so you can actually see what part of the animal it’s from, Goring says. Comparing steak to a hamburger patty, she says the steak is clearly in its natural form and just has one ingredient — meat. It becomes a whole lot more difficult to see what you’re eating when you’re face-to-face with a ground-up burger.
But there’s more to it than just the gross-out factor. Higher quality meat, like grass fed beef, is higher in nutrients and healthy fats, Goring says, while lower quality, mass produced meat has less nutrients and also usually has added hormones which can cause inflammation and potentially lots of other scary effects.
“Mass produced meat from animals that are treated poorly has a higher amount of arachadonic acid, which causes inflammation in our body,” Goring says. “Eating this type of meat is extremely stressful on the body, and not healthy at all. [Since] meats at fast food restaurants are generally lower quality, their flavor needs to be enhanced with extra sugar, salt, and fat. They are usually full of additives, colors, and artificial flavors to mask the unappealing look and flavor.”
So, maybe we’ll skip the hot dog and cheeseburger from now on — there’s always great fast food coffee, right?
For more health and food tips, check out 6 Trader Joe’s Items That Reviewers Say You Should Avoid and 8 Late-night food ideas for your wedding after party.
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