Beware of foods high in sugar and salt when visiting new CosMc's restaurants, warns a nutrition scientist.
McDonald's has announced the launch of a new chain of retro-style restaurants, CosMc's, with the first location opening in Bolingbrook, Illinois, this month.
CosMc's menu is focused on "beverage exploration, with bold and unexpected flavor combinations, vibrant colors and functional boosts," according to a McDonald's statement. Along with some of the McDonald's classics, the food menu includes sandwiches, hash brown bites, and pretzel bites.
While the menu, which is also available online, is full of mouth-watering items, Lauryna Nelkinė, MSC, a nutrition scientist and managing health content researcher at Healthnews, says that some substantially exceed recommended sugar and salt intake limits.
Look for unsweetened alternatives
Bright-colored CosMc drinks may seem a perfect choice for calming the sweet tooth. However, Nelkinė does not recommend consuming them due to the large amount of sugar they contain.
She points out that there are about 4 grams of sugar in one teaspoon. As Chai Frappe Burst Large contains 106 g of added sugar, Berry Hibiscus Sour-ade Large contains 107 g, and Sour Tango LemonadeTM Large contains 109 g, there are roughly 27 teaspoons of added sugar in each drink.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends reducing the added sugar intake to less than 10% of total energy intake. For instance, an average adult consuming 2,000 kcal a day should not exceed 50 grams or approximately 10 teaspoons of added sugar, Nelkinė explains.
"If we look into the beverages mentioned above, their sugar content is almost three times above the WHO daily sugar guidelines for adults consuming 2,000 kcal per day. These are huge amounts of sugar to be consumed in one sitting," she adds.
Moreover, foods and drinks high in added sugar are usually high in calories and low in beneficial nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, or fiber.
Nelkinė says, "It is very easy to over-consume such sugary drinks. If a person is not highly active, it can quickly add calories above our daily energy needs, which can lead to weight gain and, over time, can increase the risk of chronic diseases. One more thing to keep in mind is that beverages high in added sugar may lead to dental caries."
She recommends consuming these drinks only occasionally and choosing smaller servings or other menu options with lower amounts of added sugar. For instance, the Blueberry Ginger Boost Small contains 9 grams or 2 teaspoons of added sugar, making it "a more mindful choice for an occasional sweet drink."
"Ideally, unsweetened beverages such as water or tea should be our go-to options for daily hydration. Iced black tea or green tea on the CosMc's menu has no added sugars, and people with a sweet tooth can add a bit of sweetener such as stevia to make these drinks more enjoyable," Nelkinė says.
Make sandwiches at home
Nelkinė points out that some foods on CosMc's menu are very high in sodium. Although our bodies need some salt to function well, consuming too much of it can increase our blood pressure and lead to heart disease.
Americans are recommended to consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium daily, which is approximately half of a teaspoon of salt.
CosMc's Creamy Avocado Tomatillo Sandwich and Spicy Queso Sandwich contain 1,180 and 1,250 mg of sodium, respectively. It means that eating both of these sandwiches would exceed the recommended daily salt intake, Nelkinė says. Instead, Egg McMuffin with 770 mg of sodium could be "a bit more mindful choice."
As a nutritionist, I would recommend making sandwiches at home; it does not take much time, and this way, we can select ingredients that are beneficial to our health, such as whole grain bread, avocados, tomatoes, and eggs. It is easy to control and reduce added salt intake while preparing foods at home.- Lauryna Nelkinė
As finding foods lower in salt may be challenging in the restaurant menus, Nelkinė recommends reading the nutrition labels in order to choose the most nutritious items.
However, with wait times at CosMc's exceeding an hour, at least fifty cars lined up in the drive-thru, and visitors spending upwards of $70 to $100 per order, Americans are flocking to the new fast food restaurant. Now, it's up to them to make the conscious choice.