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Planning for nice dinner at restaurant? Here’s why it’s unhealthier than fast food

Cooking during weekends after an exhausting and hectic week at work seems even more tiring. Instead, dressing up and enjoying a nice drive down to the fancy restaurant sounds fun and a nice way to enjoy quality time with your family and friends. However, a new study finds that restaurant food is just as bad as junk food.

The research has shown that dining– be it at a proper restaurant or fast-food corner, makes one intake, on average, around 200 more calories per day than when they dine at home. Besides, the calories eating out also makes one consume more cholesterol, fat, saturated fat and sodium as against those who suppers at home.

Ruopeng An - professor of kinesiology and community health

Ruopeng An – professor of kinesiology and community health

Photo Credit: L. Brian Stauffer

Ruopeng An who is a professor of kinesiology and community health at University of Illinois evaluated the nationally representative records spanning through eight years from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey that is performed by the National Center for Health Statistics.

His examination by looking at the data from 2003 -2010, assembled from 18, 098 adults residing in the U.S, disclosed that eating at a restaurant is akin to eating at a fast-food corner, or in some instances less healthy than the latter.

The research explained people who eat at restaurants are more likely to consume more healthy nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, potassium and certain vitamins compared to those who eat at a fast-food corner or even at home. However, the restaurant eaters also intake considerably more cholesterol and sodium, which are two nutrients Americans usually eat surplus at home as well.

An said that this extra consumption of cholesterol, which was “about 58 milligrams per day, accounts for 20 percent of the recommended upper bound of total cholesterol intake of 300 milligrams per day.”

Unlike the restaurant eaters the ones who dined at a fast-food corner took only around 10 milligrams of more cholesterol compared to those who ate at home.

An stated that the American Heart Association suggests to check the amount of saturated fats one intake to “less than 5 to 6 percent of one’s total daily calories.” He added that out of 2,000 calories that one needs in a day, “less than 120 calories, or 13 grams, should come from saturated fats.”

The study showed that those who ate food at restaurant and fast-food corners, consumed about 10 grams more total fat, besides 2.46 grams and 3.49 grams, respectively, more saturated fat compared to the ones who ate at home.

Experts suggest you to consume between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, though. But An discovered that Americans already consume more than 3,100 milligrams of sodium per day. On average, dining at a fast-food corner combines about 300 milligrams of more sodium to one’s every day intake while dining at a restaurant combines 412 more milligrams.


Photo Credit: Silver Diner

He added that the “additional sodium is even more worrisome” because the normal sodium consumption already crosses the recommended mark, thus; becoming a major health concern for heart disease and hypertension.

Moreover, An has discovered prominent differences in the consequences of those who eat out on different groups. He said that when African-American ate at fast-food corners and full-service restaurants they consumed more total fat, sodium, saturated fat and sugar than their “Caucasian and Hispanic counterparts who dined out.”

He added that the research showed that the effect of eating at fast-food corners or restaurants on daily intake of total energy, total fat, saturated fat and sodium “appeared larger among people with lower educational attainment,” while “highest” among people in the middle-income range when the latter ate at full-service restaurants.

His analysis further revealed that in comparison to their standard weight and obese-less overweight equals, obese persons also consumed more total energy, saturated fat, total fat, sodium and cholesterol while dining at a full-service restaurant and more calories while dining at a fast-food corner.

An stated that these findings show that dining at a full-service restaurant is not essentially the healthy option from dining at a fast-food corner. “In fact, you may be at higher risk of overeating in a full-service restaurant than when eating fast-food,” he added.

He suggested to those who is willing to maintain a “healthy diet and not overheat” that it is “healthier” to cook their own meals at home, and steer clear of eating out whenever feasible.

The study was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Other than obesity, junk foods and restaurant foods that contain lots of saturated fats increase the level of cholesterol in one’s blood as well. It also puts one at higher risk of having heart diseases, including stroke, type 2 diabetes as well as peptic ulcer.

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