One of the reasons fast food gets a bad rap is because of how bad it can be for your heart. But if you eat fast food in moderation and make a few simple changes, you can make it work with your diet.
For optimal heart health, the American Heart Association recommends you consume no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. And no more than 6 teaspoons or 100 calories of sugar a day for women. Unfortunately, one fast food meal can potentially cause you reach both.
So, here are some fast food nutrition facts you can use the next time you hit the drive-thru.
Pass on the "value-size." When you super size, the size of your fries isn't the only thing that gets bigger (watch the movie Super Size Me! and see).
Skip the sides. Eating a burger or sandwich by itself is often filling enough. If you do want a side, consider ordering a fruit cup or side salad. Most fast food restaurants now offer them.
Avoid double meat and bacon. A serving size of meat is 2-3 ounces — about the size of a deck of cards. You're probably getting well over that with a single meat patty. Bacon is high in calories and fat with little nutrient content.
Try the grilled chicken sandwich. Poultry without skin is significantly leaner than the meats most fast food companies use in their burgers.
Eat your sandwich open-faced. By eating only half the bun, you can eliminate unnecessary calories.
French fries are always salty. But a sandwich or burger from a fast food restaurant can contain more than 100 percent of your daily suggested sodium content. Try half a sandwich with a side salad (and low-sodium dressing) instead.
Ask for a wheat bun. Some places offer a wheat alternative, and it never hurts to ask.
Skip the mayo and other sauces. These dressings and sauces add unnecessary calories and fat.
Drink water or low-fat milk. Diet soda if you must. Sodas and most juices are loaded with sugar, which have calories you don't need.
Many fast food restaurants even list the nutrition facts for their food near the counter. You can use it to find out things like:
Fat and sodium content
Trans fat amount
Saturated fat level
And if you’re a calorie counter, you’ll even be able to add those up, too. Several fast food restaurants now post calorie information next to the item on the posted menu. Next time you’re passing on fresh fruit for onion rings, keep this blog post in mind.
You can also check out our fast food nutrition infographic. It contains many additional statistics you may find interesting and it might help you make healthier decisions the next time you’re thinking about fast food for lunch or dinner.