Americans eat a lot of fast food. It's fast, easy, cheap and fills you up. But do you know what it is filling you up with?
You could easily eat all the calories you need in a day in one meal at a fast food restaurant. The meal would also add extra sugar, sodium and fat.
After the movie Super Size Me came out, many popular fast food chains started offering "healthier" choices. Some of these are actually healthy, but there are some hidden pitfalls. For example, there are some salads that are just as bad for you as cheeseburgers.
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Fast Food Comparisons
Let's compare two salads -- both from Burger King.
- Burger King Tender Grill Chicken Salad with lite Italian dressing
- Burger King TenderCrisp™ Chicken Salad with caesar dressing
It doesn't take an expert to decide which one is better for you. Here are the nutrition facts:
- 360 calories, 20 grams of fat, 1160 milligrams of sodium
- 580 calories, 46 grams of fat, 1730 milligrams of sodium
- McDonald's Hamburger
- McDonald's Double Quarter Pounder®
- 260 calories, 9 grams of fat, 530 milligrams
- 730 calories, 40 grams of fat, 1330 milligrams of sodium
French fries can be pretty bad for you if you have a lot. Let's compare a small order of Wendy's french fries versus an extra large order.
- Wendy's small french fries
- Wendy's Great Biggie® french fries
- 280 calories, 14 grams of fat, 270 milligrams
- 590 calories, 29 grams of fat, 570 milligrams of sodium
- Wendy's small Frosty™ (12 ounces)
- McDonald's Triple Thick® Shake (32 ounces)
- 330 calories, 8 grams of fat, 150 milligrams of sodium
- 1330 calories, 26 grams of fat, 410 milligrams of sodium (And that's only a drink!)
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Tips for Eating 'Healthier' Fast Food
Below are some tips to make your fast food a little healthier.
- Order some of the healthier choices mentioned above.
- Order dressing on the side of a salad.
- Do not use all of the dressing that comes with a salad.
- If you can, order a low-fat salad dressing such as vinaigrette.
- Order your burger without mayonnaise or other high-calorie and high-fat toppings.
- Go for the grilled items versus the fried ones.
- Choose places, such as Wendy's, which have the option of replacing fries with a baked potato, chili or a salad. These are healthier options because they are not fried.
- If you have to drink a regular soda, get the smallest size. But it's better to order diet soda or bottled water.
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Author: Julia Ransohoff, high school student writer
Reviewed by the Web Content Committee of PAMF
Fast Food Facts, Center for Science in the Public Interest.