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A fast-food meal may sound like a good deal, especially when you don't have time to prepare breakfast or lunch. A comparison of cost vs. nutritional value, however, paints a very different picture.
The average cost of a combo meal at a fast food restaurant is
The "fast" in fast-food means the restaurant must take shortcuts with their raw materials or prepared foods (like pre-cutting and freezing vegetables) -- time-saving methods that compromise or deplete nutrients. Food prepared at home from fresh, organic ingredients, on the other hand, provides maximum nutritional value, plus the peace of mind that comes with knowing exactly what goes into your food.
Thirty per cent of Americans eat breakfast outside the home. That means huge profits for the fast-food breakfast industry, amounting to more than
Eggs, one of the best protein foods, help to regulate appetite and promote alertness. Best of all, they're inexpensive (even free-range, organic eggs) and quick to make.
Preparing a similar meal at home reduces all those values by half. A nourishing homemade breakfast of two large scrambled eggs with goat cheese and diced vegetables, turkey bacon and whole grain toast provides 453 calories, 27 grams of fat, and 653 mg of sodium, all for a cost of only
Lunch is the most popular fast-food meal. If you opt for a salad over a burger, however, you may be choosing a loaded lunch.
Wendy's Southwest Taco Salad -- iceberg and romaine lettuce, tomatoes, chili and cheddar cheese -- has a whopping 640 calories and 38 grams of fat. That's a lot of calories for a salad! It also comes with an unexpected 1.5 grams of trans fat and 1,570 mg of sodium. You're better off spending the same amount of money, about
If a sandwich is your preference,
While convenient and inexpensive fast-food meals may seem appealing in the short term, the price we pay for short-cuts, medical costs resulting from obesity, malnutrition and inflammatory diseases (diabetes, heart disease, hypertension) is staggering. Most fast-food restaurants now provide their nutritional information online or in-store. Do your homework before you order, but make it a goal to prepare and eat the majority of your meals at home.
Lisa Tsakos is a NaturallySavvy.com's Chief Nutrition Expert.
Available at Amazon.com:
The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight and Get Healthy by Eating the Food You Were Designed to Eat
The Paleo Diet for Athletes: A Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance
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Health - The Real Cost of Fast Food