Junk Food vs. Junk Food: Reading the Label
All Doritos were not created equal, which could be said for almost all junk food. Pay close attention to nutrition labels, and you’ll find that while some of the enticingly packaged chemicals that pass as food are almost 100 percent empty calories, which has the same energy content as any other calorie but lacks accompanying nutrients. The healthiest choice while lazing on the couch watching your favorite NFL team crush the opposition is to likely snack on a platter of raw carrots accompanied by a glass of water, but the odds aren't good of that happening in most households. So before you head for the drive-thru or junk food aisle, here are a few tips for choosing the lesser of two evils.
Bacon is a dirty word for some, but for meat lovers a six-inch BLT from Subway is a healthier alternative than a 7.5-ounce McDonald’s Big Mac. With 540 calories, 29 grams of total fat, 1040 mg of sodium, and 75 mg of cholesterol, a Big Mac is a heart attack waiting to happen. A standard six-inch Subway bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwich, on the other hand, has one-third the total fat (9.4 grams), less than one-third the saturated fat (4 grams), and almost half the sodium (680 mg).
Calorie by calorie there’s surprisingly little difference between a Dunkin Donut multigrain bagel (390 calories) versus a chocolate glazed cake donut (370 calories). In the case of the bagel, however, 70 of its calories are derived from its 8 grams of total fat, whereas 220 of the glazed donut’s calories are derived from 24 grams of total fat. As for sugar, the stuff that makes blood-glucose levels rise, the bagel has seven grams, the donut has 17.
Brands like Ben & Jerry’s get credit for using only the freshest milk and cream from cows that haven’t been treated with bioengineered growth hormones. So even if you eat a half-cup of B&J’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream, you’ll be ingesting 26 grams of total fat unhampered by harmful chemicals that could cause hormonal and allergic effects. A healthier option is B&J’s Half Baked chocolate and vanilla low-fat frozen yogurt with fudgey brownies and chocolate chip cookie dough. With skim milk as its primary ingredient, a half-cut of this fro-yo has only three grams of total fat.
The milk chocolate, peanuts, caramel, and nougat are mighty tasty in a Snickers, but unless you’re running an ultramarathon, it’s tough to work off the bar’s 280 calories, 14 grams of total fat, and 30 grams of sugar. A purer burn is Endangered Species’ All Natural Extreme Dark Chocolate three-ounce candy bar. Certified vegan, gluten-free, kosher, and 88 percent cocoa, you’re getting the high from the naturally occurring antioxidants in dark chocolate.
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Baked Doritos Nacho Cheese Flavored Tortilla Chips have zero trans fat, no gluten ingredients, 3.5 grams of total fat and .5 ounces of saturated fat per one-ounce serving. These thinner, lighter chips have 4.5 grams less total fat and one gram less saturated fat than their classic counterpart. But even the baked variety comes with a caveat: If you’re watching your sodium intake the baked version has 230 mg of sodium per serving, while the classic has only 210.