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Matt Wong © 2003
Matt Wong © 2003
Fast Food Facts From the office of the Minnesota Attorney General

Did you know there are more than 300,000 fast food restaurants in the U.S. Why is fast food so popular? Because it is convienent, predictable, and fast. Fast food has become a part of the busy American lifestyle. But, nutrition experts point out, fast food is often high in calories, sodium, fat and cholesterol. This does not mean fast food is bad. But it does mean you should fit fast food into a balanced, healthy diet. To help you make fast food choices and be an informed consumer, the Minnesota Attorney General's Office has developed the guide Fast Food Facts, which the Food Finder is derived from. Included are the calorie, fat, sodium and cholesterol counts of menu items from popular fast food restaurants, based on the companies' own nutritional analyses. Below are some basic facts to help you make nutritional comparisons with this guide.
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Calories On the average, to maintain desirable weight, men need about 2,700 calories per day and women need about 2,000 calories per day. It is not well understood why some people can eat much more than others and still maintain a desirable weight. However, one thing is certain -- to lose weight, you must take in fewer calories than you burn. This means that you must either choose foods with fewer calories, or you must increase your physical activity, preferably both.
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Fat Research shows that eating too many high-fat foods contributes to high blood cholesterol levels. This can cause hardening of the arteries, coronary heart disease and stroke. High-fat diets may also contribute to a greater risk for some types of cancer, particularly cancers of the breast and colon. While most Americans get more than 40 percent of their daily calories from fat, the American Heart Association recommends limiting fat to less than 30 percent of daily calories. This means limiting the fast you consume to 50-80 grams per day
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Cholesterol The American Heart Association recommends eating no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day. But don't just look at the cholesterol contained in a food item. A product high in total fat or saturated fat can be an even bigger contributor to high blood cholesterol levels. For example, "cholesterol free" potato chips may be high in fat and may contribute to raising your cholesterol level, because high-fat foods cause the formation of cholesterol in the body, even if the food itself contains no cholesterol.
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Salt Everyone needs some sodium in the diet to replace routine losses. The Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences/ National Research Council has estimated that an "adequate and safe" intake of sodium for healthy adults is 1,100 to 3,300 milligrams a day, the equivalent of approximately 1/2 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Americans, on average, consume at least twice that amount -- 2,300 to 6,900 milligrams of sodium daily, according to estimates by the Food and Nutrition Board. For some people, consuming high amounts of sodium can cause high blood pressure.

Taken from http://www.olen.com/food/book.html

Matt Wong © 2003