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McDonalds is hardly renowned as an establishment for good health and proper nutrition. The menu carries the odd healthy option here and there, but overall, McDonalds is definitely somewhere you want to avoid when dieting.

Think of healthy food and your mind is drawn to salads full of colorful vegetables, some exotic fruits, fresh meat and fish, healthy fats such as nuts and olive oil, and depending on your stance regarding healthy eating, perhaps whole-grains and dairy products too.

Above all, you probably think of relatively unprocessed foods – low in starchy carbs and sugars, with virtually no additives and plenty of vitamins, minerals and lean protein.

You don’t think of McDonalds.

But could that be a mistake? The importance of balancing health and dieting with a flexible lifestyle and enjoyment is often stressed, and we’re always told “everything in moderation” but could it really be that this moderation approach can really stretch to fast food establishments like McDonalds?

In recent years, McDonalds themselves have appeared to be taking a stand. 10 or 15 years ago, what went into McDonalds products was a well guarded secret, and good luck trying to find out how many calories were in your Big Mac meal.

Now though, due to more pressure from the government, better consumer awareness and the media, such as the documentary “Supersize Me” McDonalds are under a lot more pressure to play ball, and seem to be giving consumers more knowledge and aiming for a healthier message.

Let’s face it, no one, not even the most ardent of McDonalds lovers, or perhaps even McDonalds’ own CEO is going to argue that your bacon double cheese with an extra large strawberry milkshake isn’t going to have any negative impact on your health and waistline, or that you’re better off eating one of those than a baked chicken breast with mixed vegetables, but McDonalds are making an effort.

In 2010, McDonalds announced they were attempting to make their products fit more in line with the United States Department of Agriculture’s dietary guidelines for Americans.

To do this they began by listing calorie choices on menus, and adding more fresh fruits and vegetables into their foods, while lowering the fat content of meals and putting more effort into healthier choices on the kids menu.

All branches also claim to carry nutrition information leaflets, detailing the calories, fat and sugar in every single item on the menu.

On top of that, McDonalds released a special menu, entitled “Favorites Under 400.

As the catchy name suggests, this menu includes a host of popular meal choices, all under 400 calories, such as regular hamburgers and cheeseburgers, wraps, grilled chicken burgers, 6 piece chicken nugget boxes, salads, oatmeal, apple slices, smaller sizes of French fries and a number of different drinks.

So it seems like McDonalds are doing everything right. Or are they?

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