Surprisingly to some and unsurprisingly to many, the fries that come with most of your McDonald's meals might turn out to be the most shockingly unhealthy items you'll order from the fast food chain.
We all love french fries, but if you take a good look at the nutritional stats of McDonald's fries, you just might be horrified.
A medium portion of fries includes 340 calories, 16 grams of fat, and 44 grams of carbs.
At first glance, that doesn't seem too bad — until you realize it's only a side dish, and is more than likely to be added to something else the restaurant produces.
As a comparison, a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and coffee will set you back just about the same amount.
If you're cooking fries at home, you can probably expect a very small handful of things to go into them — potatoes, oil, and salt.
So it should come as quite a shock to find that McDonald's fries have 19 ingredients in total.
Yes, you'll find the potatoes, oil and salt that will go into any fries, but you're also going to come across a lot of chemicals, fats and acids.
Some of these ingredients are included for flavor, while some aid the cooking process.
Others help preserve the finished product, but the simple fact of the matter is that many are unnecessary — and most are incredibly unhealthy.
One of the many ingredients that are thrust into each batch of McDonald's fries is natural beef flavor.
This was introduced once the restaurant put an end to cooking their fries in actual beef fat.
Beef flavoring itself — the exact ingredients of which aren't required to be disclosed by the companies who make it — doesn't technically qualify as an ingredient, according to the FDA.
However, you can be sure that the flavoring contains a whole host of things, none of which are guaranteed to come from beef at all.
"Where's the beef?"
According to McDonald's themselves, dextrose, a form of sugar, is added to their fries because the way their potatoes are par-cooked removes any natural sugars.
So the dextrose solution is sprayed onto the fries before cooking to give them the golden appearance they're known for.
Dextrose sugar is actually commonly used in baking, and constitutes one of the ingredients of McDonald's fries which remains uniform around the world, even in the countries that use far fewer of the questionable ingredients that are utilized in the USA.
TBHQ is a chemical preservative which is used to extend the storage life of many foods.
Unsurprisingly, considering you'll find it in most processed foods, it's one of the many ingredients included in McDonald's fries.
While it may not be outwardly toxic for humans to consume, the health effects of TBHQ may be significant.
It may lead to vision disturbances and other largely undesirable side effects.
Fortunately for fry-lovers, most of the side effects tend to come with doses much higher than you'll find in your favorite starchy side.
The FDA strongly regulates the amounts of TBHQ that can be added to foods, meaning those tasty fries are well within safe limits.
Citric acid is probably one of the more unassuming ingredients in McDonald's fries, considering you've likely come across it in more than a few types of fruit.
Well, it's not quite citric acid itself that's added to fries — rather, it's a citric-based antioxidant that's used to boost the shelf life of various fried foods.
Then you've got your hydrolyzed wheat and milk, the former of which is used in hair products and the latter of which is used in baby formula.
These are used in tandem with the beef flavoring to give fries their taste, and, unsurprisingly, make McDonald's fries unsuitable for anyone intolerant to wheat or dairy.
The cooking process for McDonald's fries goes something like this.
First, the non-GMO potatoes are peeled and cut into their distinctive stick-like shape.
The natural sugars are removed in a process known as blanching, before being doused in chemicals to get their color.
Then they're partially fried in oil and the beef flavor and hydrolyzed wheat and milk is added.
After this, the fries are frozen and shipped to the restaurants, where they're fried in more oils — and this is where the TBHQ is added, too.
After they're cooked, salt is added and the fries are served up to the customer.
One of the least healthy aspects of these fries lies in the hydrogenated soybean oil in which they're fried.
This oil facilitates the inclusion of trans fats into the cooking process.
Trans fats, of course, are exactly as bad as their reputation suggests, and a diet high in trans fats can lead to cholesterol problems, heart disease, and strokes.
"And that is why when you first eat fast food you feel great and 30 minutes later, you feel terrible."
McDonald's came under scrutiny when it was revealed that the fatty content of their fries was far greater than previously thought.
Today, hydrogenated oils are still used in the fries, so these trans fats aren't going anywhere, and as long as they're included in the recipe, you can be sure that you're not doing yourself any favors by eating them.
Moderation is key, here.
Ordering some fries with your meal isn't going to kill you.
The chemical ingredients are all FDA approved, and even the worst things about them — the trans fats — aren't outright dangerous.
Piling on the fries — or any other McDonald's food for that matter — in considerable excess is, of course, far more likely to kill you.
So, consume with care.
Check out one of our newest videos right here!
Plus, even more Mashed videos about your favorite stuff are coming soon.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the bell so you don't miss a single one.