We all know that fast food is not the healthiest option for us - that's just common knowledge. However, we do not tend to have this thought as much when we consider restaurant food. Did you realize that restaurant food can be just as unhealthy as a meal from a fast food places, if not more? A study out of The University of Illinois gives us a rude awakening and makes us stop and think about what we are really putting into our bodies. Could a homemade meal really be the best option?
Ruopeng Au, professor of kinesiology and community health at The University of Illinois lead the study. Au studied eight year's worth of data from The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which questioned over 18,000 Americans of various ethnicities and financial backgrounds, to fuel his research. The professor discovered that, contrary to what we would all assume, your typical sit-down restaurant is just as bad a going to your local fast food joint. People who dine at the full-service restaurants do actually consume more healthy vitamins (vitamin E, B6, and K), potassium, and omega-3s than those who visit fast food places; however, these same restaurants also wind up taking in more cholesterol and sodium than fast food joints. As shown by infographics provided by The University of Illinois, some restaurants give over 3,000 milligrams of sodium and over 300 grams of cholesterol, when it is only suggested that consumers take in only 300 milligrams of cholesterol and 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day!
These results are both stunning and worrisome, but not necessarily surprising: “The effect of fast-food restaurant consumption on daily total energy intake appeared larger among people with lower educational attainment....And people in the middle-income range had the highest daily intake of total energy, total fat, saturated fat and sodium when they dined at full-service restaurants...The additional sodium is even more worrisome because the average daily sodium intake among Americans is already so far above the recommended upper limit, posing a significant public health concern, such as hypertension and heart disease,” said Au. Research also suggested that African American consumers normally wind up consuming more amounts of sugar, total fat, sodium, and saturated fat than Caucasian or Hispanic diners at both full-service and fast food restaurants.
Going Out Vs. Staying at Home
So now we know what the research says about the health risks that come with full-service and fast food restaurants, but what about home-cooked meals? Are they just as bad? Turns out that home-cooked meals could actually be your best bet to try and stay as healthy as possible. According to Lori Rosenthal, dietitian at Montefiore Medical Center, home-cooked meals are better for us because we are the cooks and know exactly what we are putting into our food. With that in mind, we are better able to control ingredients and portions that we can make healthier - it is completely up to us to make sure that we incorporate those things, though, which leads to more responsibility on our part. We need to make sure that we are purchasing healthy, fresh, and non-store bought (if you can help it) items to prepare your meals. Being conscious of nutritional information and caloric intake will keep you on the right track when preparing your meals and even when you are out at a restaurant ordering your food!
We've learned about the study, compared fast food places, sit-down restaurants, and homemade meals; and even looked briefly looked at how different races and families from different economic backgrounds take in sodium and cholesterol - so what exactly should we take away from Ruopeng Au's study with The University of Illinois, anyway? According to Reliawire, we can say this: “A holistic policy intervention is warranted to target the American’s overall dining-out behavior rather than fast-food consumption alone.” In other words, eating out every once in a while is okay, but staying at home and cooking for yourself or your family will always be the best - and cheapest - route to take.
Source: Fitness Republic
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