Originally published November 16 2011
Arby's nutrition information - here's what you need to know
by Tara Green
(NaturalNews) Recent health research indicates that Harold and Kumar could have skipped the pot and gone straight to White Castle -- or any other fast food emporium -- for a high. A study published in July 2011 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) found that fatty foods trigger a chemical effect in the body similar to that of marijuana. At least one fast food purveyor seems to have decided to capitalize on this effect: Arby's now uses the slogan "It's good mood food."
Good mood foodUniversity of California-Irvine researchers have noted that high-fat foods produce "endocannabinoids" in the body. It's believed people keep eating these foods in order to extend and replicate this high. Whether or not they realize it, Arby's hit the nail on the head with their new catch-phrase.
Mixed messagesVisiting the websites of fast-food chains reveals an interesting mix of messages. Through fast-food advertising, chains use public relations experts who attempt to fulfill federal legal requirements to provide nutritional data while simultaneously appealing to consumers' desire to indulge in a fast food high. Images and sensory language appeal to the consumer, in a sense distracting them from the damage these foods might do. Arby's website features a picture of one of their featured sandwiches, the Ultimate Angus Philly, alongside the caption "Admit it. You LIKE me."
While the Angus Philly looms large on the home page, nutritional information is accessed from a pull-down menu under the caption "Food." To the left and center on this pull-down are photos of Arby's menu options -- clicking on these will take you to larger photos along with advertising-copy using phrases like "amazing flavor", "exquisite marbling", "oven roasted" and "the epitome of juicy deliciousness". To find the nutrition option on this page, website visitors have to ignore these photos and instead click a smaller section on the right.
Building a mealConsumers that manage to navigate to the nutritional data can visit an interactive Meal Builder page, allowing them to select menu items and view the resulting numbers. Selecting the Angus Philly, for instance, results in a display of 610 calories, 30 total grams of fat (9 of them saturated), 90 mg of cholesterol and 1670 mg of sodium. Pairing the sandwich with a small order of curly fries moves the calorie count up to 970, brings the total fat count to 45 grams(11 saturated, from 0.5 trans fat) and adds over 1000 mg of sodium. According to US Department of Agriculture guidelines, this is nearly half of the calories most people need to consume in a single day, along with more sodium than is usually recommended per day. No wonder Arby's hopes to appeal to people who want to eat based on "good mood" impulses rather than health-based considerations.
You can use the website tool to build an Arby's meal with fewer calories and less sodium. Choosing their Roast Turkey and Swiss Wrap along with their Chopped Side Salad results in only 570 calories and 29 total grams of fat. However, if you have questions about the ingredients used in this meal, you may have to call the company and inquire.
Missing informationIn addition to the Meal Builder page, the fast food chain's nutrition section also includes two PDF pages: a list of U.S. menu items without gluten and an allergen information sheet noting which sandwiches contain egg, milk, wheat or soy. No specifics are provided as to ingredients -- leaving consumers to wonder whether or not their meals contain nitrates, high fructose corn syrup, sugar or MSG aliases. Perhaps the company hopes the endocannibinoid high will overtake any questions their customers might mentally formulate about exactly what they are eating.
A better alternativeIf you want a high, medical marijuana is, as of this writing, legal in 16 states and the District of Columbia. Perhaps easier to come by -- you can also derive endocannabinoid effect from vigorous exercise. This route to temporary chemically-induced bliss offers actual health benefits rather than the potential risk of diabetes and heart disease offered by a fast food high.
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