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Fast Food Nutrition Facts

Until only recent years, the United States Food and Drug Administration only required nutrition facts labels to accompany food products sold in stores. Today, restaurants are required to provide nutrition facts for the foods they serve. Since implementing this regulation a few short years ago, menus at dine in and carry out eateries have been altered for the better and nutrition facts accompanying fast food have enabled people to make healthier eating choices.

Relying on fast food for a quick and convenient meal doesn't mean you have to sacrifice nutrition. If you pay attention to the fast food nutrition facts that are provided on many restaurant menus, you can still make wise choices. Take note of which sandwiches and sides from your favorite fast food chains have the most fat and which have the least. It can be interesting to learn the difference in calories and fat between some foods and many fast food nutrition facts may surprise you.

For example, many people may choose to order fish over beef as a healthier choice and in some circumstances it could be a wise choice. However, at McDonald's a fish sandwich has more calories than a hamburger and twice the calories from fat. Similarly, their grilled chicken sandwich is just as healthy as their hamburger and contains the same calories from fat. Other popular eateries have similar menu options, so ask to see the fast food nutrition facts before you order. This allows you to choose wisely, but still enjoy the convenience of eating out.

It's also important to encourage kids to eat healthy when eating out. Most fast food restaurants now have alternate choices to fries and soft drinks. Many have fruit cups or yogurt as side dishes and offer milk instead of pop. Encourage your children to at least replace their soda pop with low fat milk or water and this can make a significant difference in their diet.

Fast food nutrition facts are designed to inform the public so they may make healthy food choices, but the choice is still ultimately yours. Government officials are currently looking into banning trans fat from restaurants, eliminating one of the worst sources of fat all together. Trans fat is a type of unsaturated fat that comes from additives introduced during preparation. However, unsaturated fats are unhealthy and are directly linked to heart disease and obesity.

While it's encouraging to see officials placing stricter regulations on fast food and dine-in restaurants and the fast food nutrition facts that are required are useful, the responsibility still lies where it should – with the consumer. It's up to you to make healthy eating decisions based on the information you are provided. Though it may take some getting used to, switching to a side salad or baked potato chips instead of fries can significantly reduce your caloric and fat intake – especially if you eat out regularly. Try making some of these changes a conscious part of your daily routine and you will be surprised at how much better you will feel in the long run.

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