Fans of McDonald’s chicken nuggets — and I am not among them — may be wondering how those new dipping sauces stack up, nutrition-wise. Is it better to dunk in honey mustard, creamy ranch or spicy buffalo dip?
Luckily for the health-conscious McDonald’s consumer, the company does a good job of posting detailed nutrition facts on its Web site. That’s where I got the basic information that, for instance, both the tangy barbecue and the sweet ’n’ sour sauces have 50 calories and zero fat per serving, but the former has a bit more sodium — 260 mg versus 150 mg. The popular sweet chili sauce (whose numbers aren’t yet listed on the Web site but were easily retrieved from the media relations office) has the same profile as the sweet ’n’ sour sauce. None of these sauces is an ideal addition to your diet, but those three were the least bad of the bunch.
McDonald’s honey mustard sauce has 60 calories, 2 grams of fat and 140 mg sodium (still not bad); creamy ranch has 170 calories, 18 grams of fat (!) and 270 mg sodium. And the spicy buffalo variety has just 50 calories but 6 grams of fat and 800 mg sodium. I had to double-check that one to make sure I’d read it right. (The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest most of us consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium a day.)
I am not convinced that requiring restaurants to prominently display nutrition facts for the foods they sell is the answer to the obesity epidemic; it’s not yet clear whether people who eat out a lot are likely to make purchase decisions based on such information. But I do find such information occasionally helpful in my own life and, as a consumer, appreciate a restaurant’s voluntary effort to offer basic nutrition facts. The other night, I ate with my mom at Panera Bread, where calorie counts are posted right on the menu boards. We learned that the salad we both really wanted — a Cobb concoction with chicken and bacon — contained just the number of calories (500) each of us was willing to devote to dinner.
What’s your experience with calorie postings been like? Have you changed your mind about what to order when you saw the nutrition info?