Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What's Healthier . . . Breakfast at Starbucks or McDonald's?

Starbucks sells a lot more than just expensive coffee. They market the food they sell as a healthier option than eating breakfast at a fast food restaurant. And with things like carrot sticks and hummus, that's true. But a lot of the pre-made grab-and-go foods are just as bad as a fast food breakfast, or worse. Here are five breakfast and lunch items from Starbucks compared to similar items from McDonald's.

#1.) The Starbucks Strawberry and Blueberry Yogurt Parfait vs. McDonald's Fruit N' Yogurt. The McDonald's version is 6.6 ounces and has about 220 calories. The Starbucks version is 8.1 ounces, which is more than you really need. And since the portion size is bigger, it has about 80 more calories. Winner: McDonald's.

#2.) The Starbucks Veggie, Egg and Monterey Jack Artisan Breakfast Sandwich vs. The Egg McMuffin. An Egg McMuffin has about 300 calories and 12 grams of fat. The Artisan Breakfast Sandwich is basically just a fancy Egg McMuffin, and it's got 50 more calories and 6 more grams of fat. But the Egg McMuffin has almost twice as much cholesterol. Winner: Tie.

#3.) The Starbucks Santa Fe Chicken Panini vs. The McChicken Sandwich. The McChicken has 360 calories and 16 grams of fat. The Panini is bigger, so it has 400 calories. But despite the sour cream spread, it has five fewer grams of fat than the McChicken. And both options are loaded with sodium. Winner: Starbucks.

#4.) The Starbucks Turkey and Swiss Sandwich vs. The McDonald's Cheeseburger. You'd think it's a no-brainer, but once again it comes down to portion size. A McDonald's cheeseburger has 300 calories and 12 grams of fat. But the Turkey and Swiss is much bigger, so it has 390 calories and 13 grams of fat. And it also has a ton of salt. According to the National Research Council, you're supposed to have no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. The Turkey and Swiss at Starbucks has a whopping 1,180 milligrams. And a McDonald's cheeseburger has 790. So if you ate them both in the same day, you'd consume about 500 more milligrams of sodium than you should. Winner: McDonald's.

#5.) The Starbucks Café Mocha vs. The McDonald's Mocha. With nonfat milk, a 20-ounce large mocha at McDonald's has 330 calories and 6 grams of fat, while a 20-ounce venti mocha at Starbucks has 280 calories and just 3 grams of fat. A large cup of regular coffee only has about 5 calories, no matter where you buy it. But that number goes way up when you start adding cream and sugar. Winner: Starbucks.

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