If you’re like most people, you eat 1 out of 5 meals at a restaurant. So, here’s some scary food for thought: At most chain restaurants, you have almost zero chance of finding an entrée that’s actually healthy.
Researchers at the RAND Corporation evaluated 30,000 chain restaurant entrées and children’s meals. The result: A lot of them had a healthy number of calories – that is, fewer than 600. But calories tell only part of the story.
The fact is, 96% of the chain restaurant meals tested greatly exceeded USDA recommendations for fat, saturated fat, and – especially - sodium. Excess fat and saturated fat are bad for your waistline, your heart, and your arteries, and too much sodium raises your blood pressure, and increases your risk of stroke, and heart attack.
The bad news is: The average entrée contains two-thirds the fat and more saturated fat than you should have in an entire day. It also contains the maximum amount of sodium you should have in an entire day. Which means, most people get twice the sodium they should get in one day.
But beware: You’re not doing your diet any favors by ordering an appetizer instead. Researchers found that “starter” plates often contain more calories, fat, and sodium than any other items on the menu.
What’s the fix? Cook more of your own meals. And stick mostly with fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. You’ll be healthier – and you’ll save a lot of money, too.