Is a sausage McGriddle healthy?

The sausage McGriddle from McDonald’s is one of the most popular breakfast sandwiches on their menu. With its sweet maple-flavored pancake buns, savory sausage patty, American cheese, and optional egg, it provides a satisfying combination of flavors. However, with 640 calories, 36 grams of fat, and 1380 milligrams of sodium in one sandwich, it is far from a healthy choice.

Nutritional Breakdown

Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional contents of a sausage McGriddle with egg and cheese:

Nutrition Facts Per Sandwich
Calories 640
Total Fat 36g
Saturated Fat 14g
Cholesterol 255mg
Sodium 1380mg
Total Carbohydrates 51g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Protein 22g

As you can see, one sausage McGriddle contains more than half of the recommended daily value for saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol. It also has a whopping 51 grams of carbohydrates, mostly from added sugars in the pancake bun.

High in Calories and Fat

At 640 calories, the sausage McGriddle is a calorie bomb, with over 60% of those calories coming from fat. The American Heart Association recommends limiting total fat intake to 25-35% of total calories, and saturated fat to less than 7% of calories. With 36 grams of mostly saturated fat, this sandwich far exceeds those recommendations.

All that fat can lead to weight gain and negatively impact heart health. The high amount of saturated fat also increases inflammation and risk of chronic diseases like diabetes. For a healthy diet, experts recommend focusing on unsaturated fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, and oily fish.

Sodium Overload

The sausage McGriddle is loaded with 1,380 milligrams of sodium, which is over half the daily recommended limit of 2,300 mg per day. Such high sodium levels are linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and other health issues.

The American Heart Association recommends an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults. People with high blood pressure or heart problems may need to restrict sodium even further.

Minimal Fiber and Nutrients

Despite being high in calories, fat, and sodium, the McGriddle lacks beneficial fiber and nutrients. It contains just 2 grams of dietary fiber, while we need 25-30 grams per day for good health. The processed flour in the pancake bun has minimal nutritional value.

There are also no fresh fruits or vegetables providing essential vitamins and minerals. While the egg adds protein, the overall nutritional profile is unbalanced and deficient in health-promoting compounds.

Blood Sugar Spike

With 51 grams of carbohydrates and 32 grams of sugar, the McGriddle can destabilize blood sugar levels. The refined flour and added sugar cause blood sugar to rapidly spike then crash. This leads to hunger, overeating, fatigue, and increased diabetes risk.

Choosing whole grain breads and complex carbs like oats help regulate blood sugar. The high glycemic load of the McGriddle makes it unhealthy, especially for diabetics or prediabetics.

Processed Ingredients

Making matters worse, the McGriddle is highly processed and contains artificial ingredients and preservatives like:

  • Sodium acid pyrophosphate
  • Sodium aluminum phosphate
  • Monocalcium phosphate
  • Calcium sulfate
  • Artificial flavors
  • Dimethylpolysiloxane

These additives are associated with health issues and inflammation when consumed regularly. It’s best to avoid highly processed foods as much as possible.

Lack of Protein

With 22 grams of protein, the McGriddle isn’t a great source compared to healthier breakfast choices. Experts recommend 25-30 grams of high-quality protein per meal for optimal health.

Higher protein intake promotes feeling full for longer, preserves muscle mass, and regulates blood sugar. Options like Greek yogurt, eggs, nuts or lean meats contain more protein than the McGriddle.

High in Cholesterol

Each McGriddle contains 255 milligrams of cholesterol, which is 85% of the daily 300 mg limit recommended by nutrition experts.

Frequent consumption can increase LDL or “bad” cholesterol levels, leading to plaque buildup in arteries. Over time, this raises risk of heart attack and stroke.

For heart health, the American Heart Association advises limiting dietary cholesterol to no more than 200 mg per day. The egg and sausage patty in the McGriddle make it excessively high in cholesterol.

Lacks Important Micronutrients

Micronutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are essential for good health. The sausage McGriddle lacks many key micronutrients, as shown below:

Micronutrient % Daily Value
Vitamin A 2%
Vitamin C 0%
Vitamin D 6%
Calcium 15%
Iron 10%
Potassium 4%

Meeting micronutrient needs requires eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. The McGriddle lacks these nourishing whole foods.

Large Portion Size

In addition to its poor nutrient profile, the McGriddle’s large size makes it easy to overeat. A typical McGriddle weighs 146 grams – significantly more than the recommended 30-45 gram portion for breads and grains.

Those who consume a sausage McGriddle in the morning are less likely to compensate by eating smaller portions later in the day. The excess calories can lead to weight gain over time.

For a healthier breakfast sandwich, choose a whole grain English muffin or bagel thin with egg whites, spinach and tomato. Cutting the portion size makes it easier to keep calories in check.

Contains Harmful Trans Fats

Until recently, the breakfast menu at McDonald’s used partially hydrogenated oils high in trans fats to cook items like McGriddles. Trans fats raise LDL cholesterol and lower HDL or “good” cholesterol, increasing risk of heart disease and stroke.

In 2018, McDonald’s announced it had eliminated artificial trans fats from its US menu after a multi-year process. However, some locations may still have trace amounts from cooking oils used for multiple menu items.

Often Paired With Unhealthy Drinks

McGriddles are rarely eaten on their own. They’re usually accompanied by caloric drinks like orange juice, soda or sugary lattes. This piles on even more calories, sugar and poor nutrition.

A basic splash of milk or coffee are healthier options that won’t turn your breakfast sandwich into a 1000+ calorie meal. Water infused with fresh fruit is also satisfying and calorie-free.

Part of an Unbalanced Diet

Eating a sausage McGriddle once in a while is unlikely to negatively impact health. However, consuming them regularly as part of an imbalanced diet can be problematic. With minimal nutritional value, the McGriddle can displace healthier whole foods at breakfast.

Over time, a diet centered around processed fast food instead of home cooked meals raises the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. Moderation is key when indulging in less healthy options like the McGriddle.

Healthier Breakfast Sandwich Alternatives

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to create a delicious hot breakfast sandwich that’s good for you too. Here are some healthier DIY options:

Whole Grain English Muffin with Egg White, Spinach and Tomato

  • 1 whole grain English muffin, toasted
  • 2 egg whites, cooked
  • 2 slices tomato
  • Fresh spinach

Ezekiel Bread Toast with Smashed Avocado and Poached Egg

  • 1 slice Ezekiel sprouted grain bread, toasted
  • 1/2 avocado, smashed
  • 1 poached or fried egg
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Oatmeal Bake with Greek Yogurt, Berries and Pecans

  • 1/2 cup dry oats
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup mixed berries
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pecans
  • Cinnamon to taste

There are endless combinations of whole grain breads, lean proteins, veggies and healthy fats to make a balanced hot sandwich. Be creative and keep portion sizes reasonable.

Health Benefits of a Better Breakfast

Replacing fast food breakfast sandwiches with healthier homemade options provides many benefits including:

  • More lean protein for satiety and muscle building
  • High fiber foods to regulate digestion
  • Essential micronutrients that are often deficient
  • Less sugar preventing blood sugar spikes
  • Healthy fats for brain function
  • Higher intake of antioxidants
  • More nutrients, fewer empty calories

An energizing breakfast fuels you through the morning and sets the tone for healthy eating all day long. Make it count by choosing nutritious whole foods over processed options like the McGriddle.

The Bottom Line

With high levels of calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar paired with minimal nutrition, the sausage McGriddle is far from a healthy choice. Making this processed sandwich a regular breakfast option can lead to weight gain, heart problems, diabetes risk and other issues.

Occasional consumption is fine for most people, but it should not replace a balanced breakfast on a daily basis. Prepare quick homemade sandwiches using whole grains, lean protein, veggies and healthy fats for the benefits of a nutritious morning meal without the downsides.

When you crave a savory breakfast sandwich, go for a healthier makeover. Your body and energy levels will thank you.

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