Fast Food: Can You Indulge Without Guilt? (cont.)
But competition for those customers is stiff.
"The fast food business has matured," Butkus tells WebMD. "There's not much growth in sales or additional units, so they're offering add-on products like salads to appeal to women and people a bit older."
But just how healthy are these new offerings, coming from restaurants renowned for juicy burgers and deep-fried potatoes?
Jayne Hurley, a senior nutritionist with the Center for Science in the Public Interest who wrote a recent CSPI report on the best and worst fast foods, was pleased to find some truly healthy fast food. Her top picks are McDonald's Fruit 'n Yogurt Parfait, Burger King's BK Veggie Burger and Chicken Whopper Jr., and Wendy's Garden Sensations salads.
Here's her analysis of those dishes:
Hurley also gives high marks to Subway, which, strictly speaking, is in the "quick casual" rather than fast-food restaurant category. She praises Subway for pioneering and promoting healthy, delicious sandwiches with fewer than 6 grams of fat.
Eating out used to be an occasional thing, but today Americans consume about one-third of their total calories in restaurants, says Margo Wootan, DSc, CSPI's nutrition policy director.
"Both adults and children eat about twice as many calories out compared to eating at home," she says. "And they eat more saturated fat, and less calcium, fiber, fruits and vegetables."
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