The Truth About McDonald’s Oatmeal

Just how healthy is it? Food writer and New York Times blogger Mark Bittman weighs in.

By Reader's Digest Editors

With much hoopla, McDonald’s recently launched oatmeal as a new menu item. Ostensibly, the fast food giant added the cooked oats as a healthy alternative to such breakfast mainstays as hotcakes and sausage and the Egg McMuffin. But just how healthy is it? Food writer and New York Times blogger Mark Bittman weighs in with a post at the nytimes.com, How to Make Oatmeal … Wrong.

1. It’s more expensive than a double-cheeseburger: $2.38 per serving in New York.

2. “Cream” is automatically added. Bittman uses quotation marks because the cream contains seven ingredients, only two of them are actual dairy. Brown sugar is optional, but is added unless a customer specifically requests otherwise.

3. The oatmeal alone contains seven ingredients, including “natural flavor.” Bittman says, “Real oatmeal contains no ingredients; rather, it is an ingredient.”

4. McDonald’s description vs. Bittman’s description:

McD’s: “100% natural whole-grain oats,” “plump raisins,” “sweet cranberries” and “crisp fresh apples”

Bittman’s: “Oats, sugar, sweetened dried fruit, cream and 11 weird ingredients you would never keep in your kitchen.”

5. Comparing other foods:

*McDonald’s Fruit and Maple Oatmeal: 290 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 32 grams sugar

*A typical 2 ounce Snickers bar has less sugar and calories: 280 calories, 14 grams fat, 30 grams sugar

*An Egg McMuffin has 10 more calories: 300 calories, 10 grams fat, 3 grams sugar

2 Things to Know About Real Oatmeal

1. Quaker Oatmeal takes 5 minutes to make; not the instant kind, the regular kind.

2. If you cannot spare the time to cook oatmeal and put it in a container you still don’t have to wait in line. Bittman suggests that you “put some rolled oats (instant not necessary) in a glass or bowl, along with a teeny pinch of salt, sugar or maple syrup or honey, maybe some dried fruit. Add milk and let stand for a minute (or 10).”

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