While the quality of food at sit-down restaurants may be better than that of a fast food joint, the over-serving of fat, cholesterol, sodium, and calories is about the same, and in some cases, even worse. A meal at a restaurant isn’t any healthier than hitting the drive thru, according to a recent paper.
The paper, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, followed data from more than 18,000 Americans gathered through the National Health and Nutrition Examination study. The data showed that whether you eat at fast food or fancier restaurants, you’re still taking in an extra 200 calories compared to cooking a meal at home.
"People usually view fast food as junk food, and blame it for serving an extra intake of calories, sugars and sodium," study author Ruopeng An, an assistant professor in the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said to Health Day. "That's often true when compared with eating at home. But we found that when the comparison is with full-service restaurants, fast food is not necessarily worse,"
Sit-down restaurants are healthier in some ways because the quality of the food is often better and can contain more vitamins like vitamin B6, vitamin K, copper, zinc, and potassium. But at the same time, it also contains more cholesterol and sodium. According to the paper, restaurant meals contained 412 mgs of extra sodium and 10 mgs of extra cholesterol when compared to fast food restaurants.
Fast food restaurants were still problematic, containing more saturated fat and sugar and fewer key nutrients like fiber, vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin C.
A previous study found that individual and small-chain restaurants meals, which account for about half of restaurant locations in the United States and are exempt from federal rules finalized at the end of 2014 requiring the posting of calorie counts restaurants, convenience stores and movie theaters with at least 20 locations, contained two to three times what an average adult needs.
The research has consistently shown that cooking at home is your only real health option.
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