Healthy fast food? There’s a growing public demand for it that could one day completely revolutionize the fast food industry. While it may not happen as soon as many health enthusiasts would like, the good news is that the food industry has already begun to offer healthier menu options. But if individuals want to take advantage of these now, what are the best choices they can make?
According to the National Institute of Health, products considered to be fast food are quick, easily accessible and inexpensive alternatives to home-cooked meals. That said, it can be added that these products have historically been devoid of high nutritional quality. Contributing unnecessary calories, fat, salt, and other unhealthy ingredients, they continue to be sold due to the reality that many people still want them, will pay to get them, and are eating them more often than ever before.
While one may wish to eat an occasional fast food meal or snack, frequent consumption can contribute to decreased feelings of well-being such as heartburn and weight gain as well as increased health risks, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Cutting down on frequency of intake of fast food and making healthier choices is one way to ultimately help increase the potential for enhanced quality of life as well as longer lifespans. The following are tips and examples of some of the best fast foods to choose with regard to nutritional value:
Leafy salads, for example, are always an excellent choice. Not only do they provide enzymes important for digestion that are not available from cooked foods, but they help detoxify and cleanse the body. A good habit to get into is to have the salad before a meal. Not only will this help with digestion, but it can help reduce chances of overeating by slowing down food intake and contributing to feelings of fullness due to the fiber content of the vegetables.
Other good habits to develop are to vary the kinds of salads and vegetables one consumes and be careful with salad dressings and toppings. Explore and experiment with different produce, including the dark green and colored varieties. Ultimately, no matter how healthy a food is, an individual will lose interest once boredom sets in. Also, avoid high-fat salad dressings and bacon, cheese, and other toppings that add fat and calories. Select low-fat or fat-free salad dressings, vinegar, lemon juice and herbs.
Make healthier meal selections with protein and other nutrients
The type of food and how it is prepared are among issues that can impact calorie intake and nutrition. For example, instead of choosing a fried chicken sandwich for lunch, select a grilled chicken salad. Instead of ordering a foot-long sub made up of white bread and high-fat meat such as ham, meatballs, or steak, try a six-inch sub made with lean meat such as roast beef or chicken breast. Avoid meat that is breaded or fried and ask for it to be steamed or grilled, as appropriate.
If you still want dessert afterwards or desire an afternoon snake, choose low-fat desserts. Increasingly, fast food restaurants are offering apple slices, fruit cups, and various fruit options.
The best fast foods are wholesome and as close to natural as possible. According to the American Heart Association, as well as the American Cancer Society and other health agencies, fast food can be good but also involves some planning. Read nutrition labels, restaurant menus, and nutrition guides before you eat out or purchases food. While traditional fast food may be with us for a long time, healthier options are becoming more readily available and popular every year.