Fast foods are quick, low cost, and easy substitutes for home cooking. They fit well into our busy lifestyles, but fast foods are almost always high in calories, fat, sugar, and salt.
Many fast-food restaurants still use hydrogenated vegetable oils for frying. These oils contain trans fats, which increase your risk for heart disease. Some cities have banned or are trying to ban the use of trans fats.
As a result, many restaurants are now preparing foods using other types of fat. Some restaurants offer low-calorie choices like salad bars with low-calorie dressing, low-fat milkshakes, whole-grain buns, lean meats, and grilled chicken items.
Even with these changes, it is hard to eat a healthy diet when you eat at fast-food restaurants often. Many foods are cooked with a lot of fat, even if they are not trans fats. Many fast-food restaurants do not offer any lower-fat foods. Large portions also make it easy to overeat. And most fast food restaurants do not offer many fresh fruits and vegetables.
In general, people with high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease must be very careful about choosing fast food because of its high fat, salt, and sugar levels.
Knowing the amount of calories, fat, and salt in fast foods can help you make healthier choices. Many fast food restaurants have this information. If it is not posted in the restaurant, ask an employee if they have a copy you can look at.
Consider these general tips:
Order smaller servings when you can. Consider splitting some fast-food items to reduce the amount of calories and fat. You can also ask for a "doggy bag" or just leave the extra on your plate.
Knowing what is in the foods you eat and how it affects your health can teach your children how to make healthy food choices, too. Choosing a variety of healthy foods and limiting portion size are key to providing a healthy diet for adults and children.