Fast food has become a staple of the American teen's diet. We are often left with no choice but to eat fast food on the way to school, before work, or during a quick lunch. A common misconception is that all fast food is fattening and unhealthy. While fast food may not be the best choice to meet nutritional needs, it is not always the absolute evil that it has been made out to be. There are many types of fast food meals that are low in calories and fats.

Grilled and roasted chicken meals tend to have the lowest fat content and the lowest amount of saturated fat. Chicken also has the lowest sodium content (excluding potato products) and fewer calories than most fast food choices.

A lean burger from a fast food restaurant is nearly non-existent. Since these burgers are generally fried, they tend to retain nearly all their fat. Fast food hamburgers are also full of sodium and cholesterol.

EATING A HEALTHY MEAL

Everyone needs sodium, cholesterol, fat, and calories to live. However, consuming any of these in excess can be harmful. Too much fat and salt contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. Not all fast food is harmful, but it is important to be informed so you can choose a healthy meal.

Following are two fast food meals which are similar, but which have very different nutrient contents:

Quarter-pound cheeseburger, large fries, and 16 oz. pop:

• 1166 Calories - 58% of daily value
• 51 g Fat - 78% of daily value
• 95 mg Cholesterol -32% of daily value
• 1450 mg Sodium -58% of daily value
Hamburger, small fries, 16 oz. pop:
• 481 Calories -24% of daily value
• 19 g Fat-29% of daily value
• 29 mg Cholesterol -10% of daily value
• 665 mg Sodium-27% of daily value

Compare the two meals and decide for yourself. You can choose to reduce the risks and calories in fast food if you are informed.

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