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Archive for Sunday, August 28, 2005

Fast-food restaurants offer healthful options

August 28, 2005

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Many working men and women can't find the time during a busy day for a proper lunch hour. As a result, a fast-food lunch becomes the only alternative.

Eating fast food usually does not provide the best nutritional value. An average fast-food meal can run 1,000 calories or more, and increase a person's blood sugar level.

But fast food doesn't always have to mean unhealthy food.

Many healthy choices and alternatives can be found in a fast-food menu. You just have to know what to look for and understand the options. Here are a few examples, according to the American Diabetes Assn.:

¢ Consider before you place an order how the food is cooked. Grilled or broiled meats are much healthier and have lower fat than those breaded and deep-fried.

¢ Avoid meals that come as jumbo, giant, super-sized, etc. Larger portions only pile on the calories.

¢ Go with lean meats such as chicken, turkey or fish. These possess fewer calories than beef, provided they're not deep-fried. Also, skip burgers and hot dogs that come with chili and cheese. These add an extra 100 calories per ounce, not to mention extra sodium and fat. Keep toppings simple. Mustard, lettuce, tomato and onion offer more nutritional value than sauces or mayonnaise.

¢ Try something different by ordering a salad or going for the salad bar at a fast food establishment. But remember, some salad toppings also have high-fat content, so steer away from bacon bits, croutons, cheese and the like.

¢ Mexican fast food offers several healthy options. Bean burritos, soft tacos, fajitas and other non-fried items can cut the fat intake. Go with pinto or black beans, rather than refried beans. Load up on lettuce, tomatoes, and salsa. But go easy on the cheese, sour cream and guacamole. And avoid taco salads that come in deep-fried taco salad shells.

¢ Pizza can be filling and more nutritious than many of its fast-food counterparts. Chose thin crust with vegetable toppings over deep dish with meat. Limit the order to 1-2 slices.

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