Here's How Much Sugar Is In A McDonald's French Fry Order

For a lot of consumers, McDonald's French fries represent a fast food treat that's hard to pass up. One in three consumers say they'll choose the fries at Mickey D's over those at any other fast food restaurant, according to Food Manufacturing. However, delicious though they may be, the fries at McDonald's are also calorie-dense, with a medium order serving up around 230 calories and 11 grams of fat. If you decide to upgrade to a large, that calorie number goes up to 480, with the fat checking in at 23 grams.

Nevertheless, in spite of these waistline-expanding characteristics, McDonald's fries remain a drive-thru staple. Part of that is because of the combination of key ingredients, namely salt, fat, and sugar. While people may expect the first two ingredients, it's the third ingredient — sugar — that may surprise consumers. After all, French fries are a savory dish, not a sweet one. However, a large order of McDonald's fries contains around 0.3 grams of sugar, according to Nutrition Value

How they're made plays a role

One of the biggest reasons why McDonald's fries look and taste so good is because they're coated in dextrose. Made with corn or wheat, dextrose is, according to WebMD, similar to glucose, the sugar that is found naturally in the body. It has a number of uses, including as a means to aid in the fermenting process in wine, a sweetener for baked goods, and a way to balance out the saltiness of certain foods. The dextrose in McDonald's fries, along with an ingredient known as sodium acid pyrophosphate, also gives them their signature golden color, per

Although the taste of McDonald's dextrose-coated fries may be difficult for some to resist, WebMD cautions against enjoying them more than one should. Eating too much dextrose can lead to such side effects as weight gain, heart disease, and kidney disease. It can also impact the liver, leading to type 2 diabetes. If you already have diabetes, you should avoid dextrose due to the spike in blood sugar it can cause. 

You need to be careful about how many fries you eat

Eating too many French fries not only can cause you to gain weight, it can also lead to mental struggles, as revealed by a 2023 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. According to that study, people who consumed excessive amounts of fried foods, particularly fried potatoes, were 12% more likely to develop anxiety. They were also 7% more likely to develop depression. 

However, the news on French fries isn't all bad, according to Harvard Health Publishing. While a 2017 study published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition did note that frequent fry consumption carried with it a higher risk of mortality, Harvard went on to say that said risk came with eating fries more than twice weekly. People who enjoy the occasional French fry serving, once a week or less, should not experience any serious health issues. It's also important to keep in mind portion control, and to consider some healthier options, such as baked fries. The sugar and salt in McDonald's French fries can make you want to go back for more, but you should only do so once in a while.