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Chew the Salt

Filed Under: Announcements & News at 9:12 am | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Fried ChickenKFC’s summer-time ad campaign revolved around the removal of trans fat.  Moms, it promised, could now purchase any type of fried chicken, guilt free. Many of the sides – mashed potatoes and corn on the cob – even boasted a virtually non-existent amount of the evil fat. The Colonel was back, along with his oil-dipped, carbo-loaded poultry. It seemed too good to be true, and that’s because it was. KFC, in advertising the removal of trans fat, was doing what many fast food joints before it had done: touting the positive and ignoring the negative. Yes, the trans fat is gone, but gluttonous amounts of equally detrimental substances continue to lurk in every bite and not just at KFC. Pizza Hut, Burger King and McDonald’s are all equally offensive, particularly when it comes to salt.

A recent UK study measured the salt levels in the aforementioned fast food chains.  It found that not a single one had a reassuring amount.  In fact, a Pizza Hut family meal had 49.1 grams, providing more than twice the daily intake recommended for adults and four times what’s recommended for a child in each serving. The others had similarly upsetting figures. It seemed that the only way to avoid a salt-overload, aside from not going to the restaurant, was to substitute the classics for fruit, vegetables, beans or yogurt. But, let’s be honest. When a kid sees the Colonel, he’s not craving salad. He wants a drumstick, and potato wedges better come with it. So, what should a struggling, on-the-go, no-time-to-cook parent do?

Step one actually involves a little bit of time. Almost all fast food restaurants offer nutrition information online. You can go to their Web site and find the least offensive meals that your children will still eat. But, be careful when you’re looking at the sodium levels. There’s a difference between sodium and salt.  To find out what the salt content is, you have to multiply the sodium by 2.5. That changes the appeal of the nutrition chart, considerably. Once you’ve figured out what you can order, start convincing your children that they do want fruits and veggies. Getting the alternate sides can make a huge difference. But the move that will generate the best change is avoiding KFC, Pizza Hut etc., if you can. There are healthier, convenient choices out there. It’s just a matter of finding the ones near you.

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