McDonald's Oatmeal - "A Bowl Full of Wholesome"

One of the big stories in food news in the USA is the latest menu item at the neighborhood McDonald's is "a bowl full of wholesome," more precisely identified as microwaved oatmeal with brown sugar.

Predictably, nutrition pundits have skewered the product roll-out as proof that when it comes to marketing, McDonald's can't do anything wrong, but when it comes to nutrition, McDonald's can't do anything right.

McDonald's Oatmeal Review

One of the first things one notices about the new McDonald's oatmeal is that it's more expensive than a cheesburger, $2.38 a bowl, before tax. If you buy oatmeal in bulk, you would pay about $0.10 a serving.

And if you read the nutritional information, you would notice something odd about the oatmeal, too. It's an "ingredient." Traditionally, oatmeal isn't an ingredient. It's the whole dish.

Even if you go through eight different screens on the McDonald's website, including at least three screens with a singing bowl of oatmeal, you will have to go to at least two other sources of nutrition information to learn that the oatmeal at McDonald's contains seven ingredients, including "natural flavor," which usually refers to MSG.

It could be worse. At least oatmeal is the first-named ingredient. And the "cream" contains seven ingredients, one of which is cream.

Here is a complete list, which is not especially easy to find:

  • Oatmeal:Whole grain rolled oats, brown sugar, food starch-modified, salt, natural flavor (plant source), barley malt extract, caramel color.
  • Diced apples:Apples, calcium ascorbate (a blend of calcium and vitamin C to maintain freshness and color).
  • Cranberry-Raisin blend:Dried sweetened cranberries (sugar, cranberries), California raisins, golden raisins, sunflower oil, sulfur dioxide (preservative).
  • Light cream:Milk, cream, sodium phosphate, datem, sodium stearoyl lactylate, sodium citrate, carrageenan.

Oatmeal is usually safe for people who have celiac disease, but this oatmeal comes with carrageenan to irritate the colon just in case the gluten is left out. If you have hives, there's sulfur dioxide for you. And the cream is made extra light with milk but creamy with the addition of algae additives and some nice preservatives.

Why would anyone spend at least 25 times as much to buy a bowl of oatmeal at McDonald's than it costs to make at home? It can't be convenience. By the time you get to McDonald's, stand in line to order and pay for your oatmeal, and then stand in line to pick it up, find a table, and scarf down your sugar-sweetened, chemically enhanced breakfast cereal, you would have spent far more time than you could spending showering, getting dressed, and sitting down to eat at home while your oatmeal cooked on your stove.

Is it for the fine dining experience? Or because you can always tell people you go to McDonald's for the oatmeal when you are really ordering six sausage, egg, and cheese biscuits?

How many calories in McDonalds Oatmeal?

You get about 290 calories from a McDonald's breakfast Oatmeal . Here is a nutritional breakdown.

Calories290Calories From Fat40Total Fat(g)4.5
Saturated Fat(g)1.5Trans Fat(g)0Cholesterol(Mg)10
Sodium(mg)160Carbonhydrates(g)57Dietary Fiber(g)5
Sugars(h)32Protein(g)5Vitamin A(IU)70
Vitamin C(mg)79Calcium(mg)100Iron(mg)1.5

Please visit McDonalds Oatmeal web page for detailed nutritional information.

Still, even McDonald's oatmeal offers some genuine nutrition. You get 3 grams of fiber, which means you would only need to eat 10 bowls a day to get a complete supply. You get the B vitamins and iron that appear in essentially all prepared cereals in the USA. And you get both omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids.

How much?

There's 81 milligrams of alpha-linolenic acid, which your body can turn into DHA and EPA. And there is 1782 milligrams of omega-6 fatty acids.

Unfortunately, since most of us get too many omega-6's already, the ideal ratio being 1 to 1, eating a food that's 22 to 1 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio isn't going to help control inflammation. But if you don't eat any other fat at all (sorry, none of those tasty biscuit sandwiches, ever), then McDonald's "bowl full of goodness" might be OK for you.

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