Hangin With the Hamburger

by Neil Anderson

Although criminalized by nutritionists and health practitioners everywhere, we believe hamburgers can be healthy.  Think about it.  They are mainly topped with fresh vegetables.  Ketchup (although 25% sugar - used sparingly) is packed with lycopene.  Lycopene is good for your heart.  Cheese (if you get the real stuff) is full of calcium.  It has got good macronutrient (carbs, proteins, fats) balance.  As long as the buns are relatively small (preferably less processed) and the meat is of good quality (low fat), a hamburger can be a healthy meal.  In fact, a weekend fitness seminar I attended once claimed that the lowly McDonald's hamburger was a "great source of nutrition, in a pinch." 

I'm not sure I'd go THAT far. 90 calories ain't bad, but 60 of them are fat calories (that's two thirds if you are counting) and 520 g of sodium equals 22% of your daily recommended intake.  In fairness they did say, "in a pinch."  We'd prefer you grill it yourself and combine it with fresher toppings and real cheese.  This would make a hamburger a better meal.  But we are splitting hairs here. 

Seems to me, eating a single McDonald's cheeseburger isn't the cause of America's health problem.  Nor should eating it be at the root of the health establishment's ire.  Instead, I would submit that the root of our problem has more to do with "supersizing" everything.  Compare the simple McDonald's hamburger (nutrition profile above) to the Wendy's Triple Whopper.  According to Men's Health, that monstrosity has 1250 calories.  765 of those calories are from fat.  That is 85 grams.  It also has an astounding 1600 mg of sodium (100 mg more than you need per day).  But that's not all.  The typical American will add a large fry (500 calories - 225 of them fat) and a 24 oz. soda (270 calories) to that and NOT be full.  For those keeping track, that is a grand total of 1,970 calories!  Criminalization for this...I might be able to get behind.