Fast food can be heart-healthy food if you know what to look for and order, and have the will power to follow through.  With a little bit of effort, you can ensure that the fast-food meals you choose fall within a healthy dietary pattern.

Follow these fat-sensible tips when making your fast-food choices:

  • Find out the nutritional content of fast-food items by visiting the chain’s Web site to help identify the healthiest choices.  Some restaurants post this information near the counter or provide it in pamphlet form.

  • Pass on “value-size” servings that enable you to choose greater portions of food for a slightly greater price.  “Super-sizing” a food item inevitably increases the amount of fat, added sugars, sodium and calories you consume.

  • Skip the sides, which are usually deep-fried.  For a healthier side dish, order a side salad or fruit cup.

  • Choose a baked potato over French fries, but have it with vegetables or fat-free or low-fat sour cream or margarine instead of butter, full-fat sour cream or cheese.

  • Choose grilled chicken sandwiches often – they’re a much healthier option than breaded, fried-chicken sandwiches and usually significantly leaner than the meats used in most burgers.

  • Avoid ordering sandwiches with double meat.  A single serving of meat is 2–3 ounces (about the size of a deck of cards) and a single meat patty is usually well over a single serving.

  • Avoid adding bacon to sandwiches, because it’s high in fat and calories and has very few nutrients.  Order pickles, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, mustard and ketchup instead to add flavor without fat.

  • Steer clear of fried fish sandwiches.  Choose fish sandwiches where the fish is baked, broiled or grilled.

  • Try asking for a wheat or whole-grain bun, as some places do offer them.

  • Hold the mayonnaise and other calorie-laden sandwich sauces (e.g., “special sauce”).

  • Drink water, diet soda or skim or low-fat milk.  Regular sodas are loaded with sugars and calories.

AHA