Eli5: Why are burgers considered so unhealthy?

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Assuming a fresh bun, tomato, lettuce, 100% beef patty/chicken fillet etc

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If you assume those things then it’s not so bad. The problem lies in the production of the patty and other ingredients. All of the sugar and salt added to almost everything to ensure its as attractive to the mouth as possible is why they are seen as unhealthy.

It’s mostly the stuff that comes with it. And you (or most people, at least) never have just a burger, that burger usually comes with fried potatoes and a soft drink, neither of which are very good for you.

And a burger (or at least a good one) is still a big hunk of greasy beef. Just because you’re putting some veggies on top doesn’t really make it any healthier.

The burger itself isn’t all that bad. But as others mentioned, it’s the high fat content and salt + preservatives. You can easily make it a lot healthier by using super lean ground beef or ground turkey, and making it fresh (without all the preservatives).

From a pure calories in, calories out perspective, a burger usually averages around 600 calories, which is close to a full meal by itself if you’re doing 2000 calories a day. The fries and drink that usually come with the burger can easily push that to over 1000 calories.

Usually it’s because of their fat content, calorie content, lack of vitamins and minerals, and side dishes. If you get an 80/20 burger patty and cheese on a 1/2lb burger, you can be pushing like 50 or 60 grams of fat. A large burger can easily run 1000 Calories. And even though it’s got ‘veggies’ on it, they’re ones that typically don’t provide much nutritional value; the usual burger tomato and lettuce are mostly water. The bun is bread, even if it’s a good bun; relatively simple sugars. And then you can’t have burgers without soda, fries, or potato salad, which tend to be quite unhealthy.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good burger. But I’m not going to pretend that it’s good for me to have a 1000-1600 Calorie meal.

80/20 ground beef has a lot of fat and saturated fat, but the burger by itself isn’t the worst part. it’s the additional condiments/sides, such as mayo, fries, soda, that makes the whole combo unhealthy. plus one small leaf of lettuce is not enough veggies either.

The first and last items on the list have a lot of hidden variables.

* Bread and buns have a lot of added sugar to encourage people to buy it. This adds extra junk calories the eater doesn’t really need.
* Ground beef has a lot more fat than most steaks or cuts of beef. The standard ground chuck is 15-20% fat and meat sold as just “hamburger” can be over 30%. To help visualize this, go look at a stick of butter and see how much 2 tablespoons is. That’s how much fat is in a 4 ounce burger.