"The Most Bountiful Food in Human History?"

(Photo Credit: Mike V)

A reader named Ralph Thomas observes the following:

It has been my gut-level (sorry, pun) feeling for a while now that the McDonald’s McDouble, at 390 Calories, 23g (half a daily serving) of protein, 7% of daily fiber, 20% of daily calcium and iron, etc., is the cheapest, most nutritious, and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history.

Who would like to argue against him? And if you attack on the “nutritious” dimension (I suspect you will), be very specific.

FWIW, here, from the McDonald’s website nutrition page, is a complete list of ingredients:

100% Beef Patty

100% Pure USDA Inspected Beef; No Fillers, No Extenders.
Prepared with Grill Seasoning (Salt, Black Pepper).

Regular Bun


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: Salt, Wheat Gluten, Calcium Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Ammonium Sulfate, Ammonium Chloride, Dough Conditioners (May Contain One or More of: 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.


Pasteurized Process American Cheese


Milk, Cream, Water, Cheese Culture, Sodium Citrate, Contains 2% or Less of: Salt, Citric Acid, Sodium Phosphate, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Lactic Acid, Acetic Acid, Enzymes, Sodium Pyrophosphate, Natural Flavor (Dairy Source), Color Added, Soy Lecithin (Added for Slice Separation).



Tomato Concentrate from Red Ripe Tomatoes, Distilled Vinegar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Natural Flavors (Vegetable Source).

Pickle Slices

Cucumbers, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Alum, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Natural Flavors (Plant Source), Polysorbate 80, Extractives of Turmeric (Color).


Chopped onions.


Distilled Vinegar, Water, Mustard Seed, Salt, Turmeric, Paprika, Spice Extractive.


Its a good sandwich for sure, probably the best thing on McD's menu.


So... there is such thing as a $1 lunch?


with regards to macronutrients, the burger is definitely chuck full of them. it's not an overly large amount of calories, either. but the sheer amount of additives and preservative is ridiculous.
I'd eat it maybe once in a blue moon.
5/10 would maybe recommend.

rice and beans (generic beans) offer some of the most complete nutrional content of any food.

Becky D

Eggs or coconuts.
Eggs: $1-2 for 12. For me, 5'10" 130 lbs, weight trainer, MMA, Parkour, Paleo that's still 3 or 4 meals.
It takes two of those dinky little burgers to fill me up even if I did eat the bun.


I counted upwards of 75 ingredients and those are only the ingredients that the FDA requires McDonalds to mention. I think that qualifies as processed.

This article I just read mentions a link between cancer and eating meat.
"Another recent study published in Nutrition and Cancer, points out that increased exposure to chemicals in processed meats, including nitrites and nitrates, 'is a plausible mechanism by which [conventional] red and processed meat may increase colorectal cancer risk.'" (http://www.beyondorganicinsider.com/2013/03/meatheads.html)

Judging by the way American health looks right now. I'd say that burger ends up costing Americans a lot more money on health bills in the long run.

Marc Resnick

Cans of sardines in olive oil, bags of dried lentils:

Cheaper: 1 can and 1/4 bag is $1.
More nutritious: more protein, more calcium, more fiber, more iron, healthier fats (olive oil and fish oil).
More convenient: can be stored in bulk, unrefrigerated, at home.
Less of the bad stuff: sodium, high fructose corn syrup, saturated fat, preservatives/additives.


Joe Burroughs

The corn content is pretty high when you figure corn syrup is in ketchup and the bun in large amounts. Then consider that the cow was fed corn (insert cows don't eat corn without chemicals rant here) and that corn fed cow produces the meat and milk products used... I bet if you trace it all back were at 40% or more calories from corn based origins. That just can't be very good.


I think the main issue with the debate here is the issue of the word "nutrition." Just from listening to Freakanomics podcast ("An Economist Goes To Lunch"), I get the idea that economists take more of a historical perspective to nutrition. When they talk about nutrition, they are talking about fuel. Which can be anything, simple things, white rice, beans, bread, meat, anything that creates calories which can be coveted to energy. The more modern idea about nutrition is a well-balance diet, raw foods, Omega oils, flax seeds, high levels of vitamins and low levels of anything unnatural. So I think the disconnect is that we are trying to compare Unleaded 87 to Super 93. Yeah your car will run optimally on 93, it might run smoother and last a few years longer, but I think the debate here is about the cheapest thing that will make your car run efficiently. (I like McDoubles too)

Ron White

It's not even the cheapest, most nutritious food at McDonald's. That award goes to the grilled snack wrap. When I am trying to eat healthy foods at McDonald's, I always go for the one with chipotle BBQ sauce. It has a nice mix of smoky, spicy and sweet. I order two. That's 500 calories, 54 grams of carbohydrate, 32 grams of protein and only 16 grams of fat. The snack wrap is $1.29. So I get two of them for $2.58. Sure, the McDouble is 29 cents cheaper. But you get a lot of nutrition for that extra 29 cents. You get more carbohydrate, which the body needs to function, the same amount of protein and less fat, cholesterol and sugar, which should be eaten in moderation for good health.

The McDouble only has 390 calories. To attain the same number of calories I get with my two snack wraps, you'd have to eat 1.5 McDoubles. That would be 560 calories. It also would mean 33 grams of protein, 48 grams of carbohydrate, 29 grams of fat and 12 grams of sugar. I'm not even going to mention the cholesterol.

If you ate that 1.5 McDoubles meal for all three of your daily meals, you'd be over doctor-recommended limits for fat, cholesterol and sugar consumption. That would adversely affect your healthy and would increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

I don't know what all of those weird chemicals in a McDouble will do to the human body. But I suspect that they'll make a person ill by introducing toxins.

Sure, a McDouble falls into the right calorie area. But there's a lot of bad stuff that comes along for that ride. Eating one isn't going to cause havoc. But you sure wouldn't want to eat one daily, and you definitely couldn't claim that it's the healthiest, cheapest thing in the world to eat. It's not even the healthiest, cheapest thing at McDonalds.



nothing nutritious in "Bleached Wheat Flour"
100% Beef Patty - hardly. The list of ingredients did not included what the cattle are actually fed on a commercial farm. These animals are laced and pumped with Hormones, Steroids, Antibiotics and the like.. and nearly a 100% GMO corn diets.. yummm. Source "Fast Food Nation."
One can easily argue when consuming one of the burgers that you are consuming meat from over 1000 different cattle.


Thank goodness, makes me feel less guilty stopping thru the drive in when I'm doing errands!!
There 's no accounting of fats tho.


Folks, it's the fat that's the problem. This has 19 grams of fat; 8 of them saturated fat. That's 42% of recommended daily fat intake! In one sandwich. (and all that fake stuff doesn't help either. not to mention more studies showing how bad red meat is for us.)