Excerpted from the Nutrition and You! blog on boston.com.
The latest from the researchers at the US Department of Agriculture is that Americans, on average, are consuming just shy of 200 calories more daily than we did in the late 1970s. This isn’t a big surprise, as this coincides with the expanding presence of obesity among Americans.
While 69 percent of our daily calories are consumed at home from foods obtained at the supermarket, grocery stores, and other outlets, the remaining 31 percent are consumed outside the home, with the majority of them from fast food restaurants.
When the USDA researchers looked at the quality of the foods consumed outside the home, not surprisingly, these choices were lower in fruits, whole grains, fiber, iron, and calcium, yet higher in fat, saturated fat, and sodium.
The good news is that the new federal requirements for nutrition labeling at restaurants are slated to be released this fall. These guidelines will require that restaurants with 20 or more locations (chain restaurants) must post the calories on their menus and menu boards. According to the latest research from Mintel, over 30 percent of consumers would use nutrition information to make healthier choices if it was provided at the point of purchase.
Health and nutrition has already become a culinary theme within the restaurant industry, according to Joy Dubost, director of nutrition and healthy living for the National Restaurant Association. “There has been a focus on providing healthier options at restaurants particularly since consumers are becoming more health conscious and demanding such options,” said Dubost. Consequently, many restaurants have already started posting the calories for their dining options.
Until the labeling law goes into effect, the following is a sample of some healthier fare at local fast food and quick service restaurants. These selections are based on the current daily values used on the nutrition fact panel on the food label.
McDonald’s: chipotle BBQ snack wrap; premium Southwest salad w/grilled chicken (order without cheese); apple slices.
Panera: strawberry poppyseed & chicken salad; fat free poppyseed dressing; half Mediterranean veggies sandwich; half tuna salad sandwich on honey wheat.
Subway: roast beef on 9-grain bread, 6 inch; oven roasted chicken on 9-grain bread, 6 inch; grilled chicken with baby spinach salad w/fat-free Italian dressing.
Wendy’s: grilled chicken go wrap (order without cheese); ultimate chicken grilled sandwich; apple slices.