A new study suggests that choosing restaurant food over fast food meals to keep things healthy is not a wise choice after all. Restaurant foods are packed with the same amount of calories that you can get when you eat those burgers and fries at fast food chains.
Researchers at the University of Illinois looked at the national data collected between 2003 and 2010 involving more than 18,000 U.S. adults. They compared the calorie and nutrient consumption of those who regularly eat in restaurants to those who go to fast food chains. They also examined the caloric difference of eating home cooked meals versus dining out.
The analysis showed that while restaurant foods contain more nutrients, such as certain vitamins, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids, they have higher sodium and cholesterol content compared to foods served in fast food chains.
Home cooked meals, on the other hand, are about 200 calories lesser compared to food served in restaurants and fast food. Fast food and restaurant food also have 10 milligrams more cholesterol and 10 grams additional total fat compared to meals made at home.
“People who ate at full-service restaurants consumed significantly more cholesterol per day than people who ate at home,” Ruopeng An, study author and a kinesiology and community health professor at the university, said in a news release. “This extra intake of cholesterol, about 58 milligrams per day, accounts for 20 percent of the recommended upper bound of total cholesterol intake of 300 milligrams per day.”
The researchers recommend that people should start preparing their own meals instead of dining out to lower their risk of obesity and avoid the health complications associated to it.
“When we prepare our own meals we know exactly what the foods we are eating contain,” Lori Rosenthal, a dietitian at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City who wasn’t involved in the study, told Reuters Health in an email.
“When dining out, we are leaving the ingredients to the chef or fast food chain,” she said. “When we make our own, we are in control.”
The study was published in the July 1 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.