Dr. Robert Cook - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Robert Cook

Is Arby's Bad For You?



Short answer

Arby's is additives, HFCS, and “Natural” flavors galore. Looking out for both your short-term and long-term health, we recommend making your own sandwich from home.



Long answer

You’ve probably opted for an Arby’s sandwich instead of a McDonald’s Big Mac, not only because it tastes good. The main reason would be that it feels much lighter and healthier than even a salad at McDonald’s. After viewing an online Arby’s menu at first glance, it’s nothing too unhealthy sounding. You’ve got signature roast beef gyros. Turkey clubs, sliders--every main food was coupled with a brief description of ingredients that sound like anything you could easily find at Walmart. What could go wrong with a sandwich shop? The ingredients, of course.

Hydrolyzed Soy Protein

The Angus beef, an ingredient found in a few entrees, contained something unfamiliar: hydrolyzed soy protein. According to livestrong.com, it’s a way to boil the soy protein in sulfuric acid - a chemical substance not meant for ingesting. Of course, in the process of hydrolysis, other chemicals are added to neutralize the compound, but that only adds to the fact that after eating this, you’re also consuming several unhealthy chemical byproducts. 

Likewise, hydrolyzed soy protein is also code for MSG. Bring on the headaches, the migraines, and the neurotoxicity.

Arby’s is also not free from the enemy of weight-loss progress itself: high fructose corn syrup.  In the Smoky Q Sauce of the Arby-Q, this is the condiment’s first ingredient. Several sauces tend to contain high fructose corn syrup in them, unfortunately.

And it doesn’t stop at the sauces, either. The Breakfast Biscuit’s third ingredient is hydrogenated palm kernel oil. This is a fancy cover-up for trans-fat, as indicated by the term “hydrogenated.”  The biscuit further contains DATEM, which we have learned has been linked to heart fibrosis in animals.

Natural and Smoke Flavor

And lastly, across the board we saw several foods tainted with “natural” (which we learned is very vague and can include anything the manufacturers want to use) or natural smoke flavor: the Arby-Q, ranch dressing, the french toast sticks, several of the desserts, the gyro sauce. Most of these are sweets and/or condiments, which you probably won’t be eating a lot of anyway.

But with things like the Arby-Q, a popular item, we’ve got to analyze some more. Smoke flavoring is an ingredient in this food as well. What on earth is smoke flavoring, and is it safe?

According to nutrionfacts.org, we don’t have much to worry about. Actual smoked foods (grilled foods) are more carcinogenic than natural smoke flavor. However, it’s still carcinogenic, so moderation is extremely important. 


Let’s not forget, calories. If you’ve looked at an Arby's sandwich or burger, it’s pretty big. A medium sized Beef N Cheddar Mid has about 1700 mg of sodium, 560 calories (more cals than a Big Mac), and 1.5 grams of trans fat. Normally, we see 0% for trans fat, but hey, at least they were honest.

When looking through the nutritional info on the menu, It didn’t surprise us that the majority of items were over 300 calories. Calories, after all, shouldn’t be an indicator of how good or bad food is--alone at least.

However, our fancies were tickled when we discovered that a few sauces, including the honey mustard dipping sauce, added over 100 more calories to the Prime-Cut Chicken Tenders. Makes you wonder what they’re putting in your sauces (HFCS, food dyes, soybean oil—the first ingredient, which is weird)

When it comes to Arby’s food, it’s important to remember that it’s still fast food. It’s still packed with preservatives and additives and fat. Once in a while, it’s fine to treat yourself, but nothing is more nutritious than a healthy, home-cooked meal, no “natural flavors”

Possible short-term side effects

  • headaches
  • heartburn
  • indigestion
  • nausea

Possible long-term side effects

  • obesity
  • high blood pressure
  • stroke
  • heart attack
  • heart diseases
  • type ii diabetes
  • cancer

Ingredients to be aware of

Healthier alternatives

  • home-cooked sandwich using fresh ingredients

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Blossom O
Published on: 10-10-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Blossom O
Published on: 10-10-2016
Last updated: 12-10-2016

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