This is a big year for the Shamrock Shake: It’s the first year that McDonald’s is officially making it available in every U.S. locations, and we’re seeing ads for the “cool and minty” shake topped with whipped cream and maraschino cherries everywhere. The good news is that this McDonald’s treat isn’t a total calorie bomb—which is to say, its nutrition profile looks more like a really sugary lunch than an attempt to induce immediate heart attack. But the bad news is that, no matter how you cut it, the Shamrock Shake is still full of processed ingredients and chemicals. Thank god it’s seasonal.
The Shamrock Shake’s nutrition facts are as follows for a small, 12-ounce cup:
16g fat (10g saturated fat; 1g trans fat)
88g carbs (74g sugars; 0g dietary fiber)
That provides 25% of the daily recommended fat and 29% of the daily recommended carbohydrates for a 2,000-per-day diet; it’s an indulgence, for sure, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the worst calorie/fat/sugar atrocities on most fast food menus.
But still…we can think of much healthier ways to get your sugar fix than a cup of McDonald’s milkshake loaded with chemicals and food coloring. Check out the ingredients list:
Vanilla Reduced Fat Ice Cream: Milk, sugar, cream, nonfat milk solids, corn syrup solids, mono- and diglycerides, guar gum, dextrose, sodium citrate, artificial vanilla flavor, sodium phosphate, carrageenan, disodium phosphate, cellulose gum, vitamin A palmitate.
Shamrock Shake Syrup: High fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, sugar, natural flavor (plant source), xanthan gum, citric acid, sodium benzoate (preservative), yellow 5, blue 1.
Whipped Cream: Cream, nonfat milk, water, corn syrup, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, mono-and diglycerides, carrageenan, polysorbate 80, beta carotene (color), natural (dairy and vegetable source) and artificial flavor, mixed tocopherols (vitamin E) to protect flavor. Whipping Propellant (nitrous oxide).
Maraschino Cherry: Cherries, water, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, malic acid, citric acid, natural (plant source) and artificial flavors, sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate (preservatives), red 40, sulfur dioxide as preservative (contains sulfites).
For a relatively simple milkshake, the Shamrock Shake contains a lot of ingredients I can’t pronounce, and don’t even recognize. Ice cream, milk, whipped cream, and cherries can be had without all the preservatives, colorings, artificial flavors, and corn syrup. So, if all you want is a milkshake, I’d suggest finding one with a simpler ingredients list. But if you just want a quick fast food indulgence to get in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, then enjoy–and remember that it’s a good thing this is seasonal.