An investigation by CHOICE has found a number of the "healthy" burgers offered by popular gourmet burger chains such as Grill'd and Burger Edge have more kilojoules, saturated fat and salt than a McDonald's Big Mac.
CHOICE assessed the salt, fat and kJ content of 40 gourmet burgers from Grill'd and Burger Edge and 5 standard burgers from McDonalds and Hungry Jack's, looking at beef, chicken and vegetarian options.
"No one expects the big burgers from McDonald's or Hungry Jack's to be good for you but with Grill'd marketing itself as a healthy alternative, we were surprised to find it would often be healthier to opt for a Big Mac," says CHOICE head of media Tom Godfrey.
"We found Grill'd's The Mighty burger with a low-carb bun has 61% more kilojoules than a Big Mac, 76% more saturated fat and 37% more sodium.
The Australian government's National Health and Medical Research Council recommends that consumers limit their salt intake to a maximum of 2300mg a day and aim for an ideal of 1600mg for optimal health.
"When you consider that Grill'd's The Mighty burger with a traditional (wholemeal) bun comes in with a whopping 1510mg of salt, it's probably best you don't get fries with that," Mr Godfrey says.
"However it's not even close to being the worst on offer when it comes to salt. Burger Edge's Meat Lover in a wholemeal bun has a heart stopping 2720 mg of salt, 18% more than the recommended daily maximum and 70% more than the recommended daily target.
"You might think a vegetarian burger would be a healthier option but we found two thirds of the veggie burgers we looked at had a higher kilojoule and salt content than the Big Mac.
"There is a fairly simple explanation for the gourmet burger's poor performance – these options tend to be bigger and once you factor in extras like cheese, mayonnaise and bacon, the kilojoules start to skyrocket.
"For those looking for the healthy choice, Burger Edge's Bombay Bash chicken in a white bun (1830 kJs) and Grill'd's Sweet Chili Chicken ( 1920 kJs) were among those with a lower kilojoule and salt content.
"While many consumers may be willing to pay a little more to a purchase a premium gourmet burger the true cost could be to your health."
For more information go to www.choice.com.au/burgers
Tom Godfrey, CHOICE, Head of Media and Spokesperson: 0430 172 669
 CHOICE analysis
 CHOICE analysis