The McDonald’s Big Mac is the world’s most recognizable fast-food offering, with its iconic jingle — “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun” — still ringing in the ears of adults across America.
But the Big Mac has evolved beyond a symbol of fast food. It is now representative of an industrial food system that runs on inexpensive beef, highly processed cheese, and bleached white flour. As of 2015, McDonald’s is the world’s largest purchaser of beef, lettuce, and tomatoes; three essential components of their Big Mac sandwich. Unfortunately, McDonald’s and the Big Mac have also come to embody the rising obesity epidemic creeping around the globe.
Despite its reputation, the Big Mac is not one of the unhealthiest fast-food sandwiches — not even close. At only 540 calories, the Big Mac is actually quite modest. There are a shocking number of “healthy and wholesome” dishes that easily eclipse the Big Mac’s calorie count. The most talked about food trends, like açaí bowls, ramen, and even kale Caesar salads, all contain more calories than a Big Mac. Even old health-food staples like a Cobb salad or a mozzarella, tomato, and basil sandwich are shockingly caloric. The foods on this list can be part of a healthy, responsible diet as long as you are cognizant of their nutrition facts. Don’t let their seemingly “healthy” reputations guide your choices alone.
Here are 12 “healthy” foods that actually have more calories than a Big Mac.