Micronutrient and fast food
Meals that are commonly consumed at fast food restaurants are highly processed and high in fat content and calories. One such example of a fast food item is the Big Mac at the McDonald’s restaurant. It provides 540 calories and contains 32 gm of fat. However, this does not include the often included fries/chips and drink that are eaten as well with the meal. It is often times seen that the one such meal can actually provide calories and other macronutrients sufficient for the entire day.
Micronutrients are nutrients that are required for proper physiological function in human beings in small quantities (milligram to micrograms). Micronutrients include vitamins that are organic compounds such as vitamins A, B, C and E; and elements such as iron, calcium, sodium, iodine etc. Vitamin A is involved in proper vision, vitamin B6 and vitamin C have effect on immune function and iron is required for the proper functioning of hemoglobin protein (medscape.com). It is important to remember that even though the micronutrients are required in small quantities, deficiency of these elements and compounds can cause serious health consequences. Vitamin A, iron and iodine are three micronutrients that are commonly found to be deficient in diet, especially in the developing world (keymicronutreint.com).
A meal consumed at a fast food restaurant such as the Big Mac at McDonald’s provides 540 calories and 32 gram of fats. It is a good source of protein with 25 gm. It is also high in sodium and calcium. It is a rather poor source of Vitamin A and vitamin C. It was observed that avoiding the Big Mac Sauce lowered the fat and calorific content of the meal. The total lipid content went down to 23 gm. However after careful examination of the menu, Southwest salad with grilled chicken was identified as one of the more healthy options. It had only half of the calories and 8 gm fats, 28 and 27 gm. of carbohydrates and proteins respectively.(McDonald’s.com)
Fruits and vegetables are good sources of micronutrients. However, meat, fish and fortified cereal also provide micronutrients. I was not able to accurately calculate but I believe I do not consume enough vitamin A and vitamin C. Vitamin A is involved in function related to vision, growth and development, immune function and reproduction. Vitamin C is involved in immune function and is an anti-oxidant, which works by protecting cells from oxidative damage and stress. (www.medscape.com).
A deficiency of these micronutrients would result in some compromise to normal cellular functions. I surprised to find that the fast food meal was a good source of calcium while being deficient in vitamin A and C content. I will incorporate fortified cereal and fruits such as kiwis, sweet potatoes, carrots and spinach to my diet.
Water is important for hydration, oxygenation of blood, removal of toxins and supporting immune function. It was demonstrated that people who ate more than three times a week at a fast food restaurant on average gained 10 pounds per year (Periera et al., 2005). Another study published in 2004 demonstrated that consumption of fast food resulted in two fold or more insulin resistance as opposed to participants who did not eat fast food (Popkin et al, 2004). It is also a well documented fact that eating certain kinds of food that are rich in refined carbohydrates and sugar can make a person more likely to overeat, while other foods such as fruits and nuts keep a person more sated(Paeratakul et al, 2003).
DONNA, H., & GEORGE, A. (2003). Fast-food consumption among US adults and children: Dietary and nutrient intake profile.
Paeratakul, S., Ferdinand, D. P., Champagne, C. M., Ryan, D. H., & Bray, G. A. (2003). Fast-food consumption among US adults and children: dietary and nutrient intake profile. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 103(10), 1332-1338.
Pereira MA, Kartashov AI, Ebbeling CB, (2005) Fast-food habits, weight gain, and insulin resistance (the CARDIA study): 15-year prospective analysis. Lancet 365:
Popkin, B. M., & Gordon-Larsen, P. (2004). The nutrition transition: worldwide obesity dynamics and their determinants. International journal of obesity, 28, S2-S9.
www.dietmealplanner.com. Retrieved on February 2, 2014
www.keymicronutrient.com Retrieved on February 2, 2014.
www.medscape.com Retrieved on February 2, 2014