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Misjudging Nutritional Expectations

By Jane Black
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 22, 2008

Low Sugar Isn't The Obvious Choice

Lesson: If you're counting calories, low-sugar or low-fat options aren't always the best. Low-fat recipes might add more sugar for taste. And low-sugar baked goods can have as much fat as or more than regular items. Before making a selection, think carefully about what you want to minimize, such as sugar for diabetics or calories for dieters.

Starbucks Key Lime

Loaf: 390 calories and

4 grams of saturated

fat

vs.

Starbucks No Sugar

Banana Nut Coffee

Cake: 480 calories and

4 grams of saturated

fat

All Fast Food Isn't Created Equal

Lesson: Look-alike items can have real differences. A McDonald's Quarter Pounder with Cheese has 37 percent more sodium than Wendy's Single with Everything. If you're eating fast food regularly, do your homework. Most companies post nutritional information on their Web sites.

McDonald's Quarter

Pounder with cheese:

1,190 mg sodium

vs.

Wendy's Single with

everything: 870 mg

sodium

You Can't Always Trust Your Gut

Lesson: A tuna sandwich or a salad is obviously a better choice than anything with bacon, right? Not necessarily. The mayonnaise in a tuna salad pumps up the fat and calories, and salad dressings can make fat and calories skyrocket.

Panera Bread Tuna

Salad on whole-grain

baguette: 860 calories,

44 grams of fat

vs.

Panera Bread Bacon

Turkey Bravo on

tomato-basil loaf: 830

calories, 31 grams of

fat

Watch the Calories in the Cup

The consumption of soft drinks has more than doubled since 1971. Research shows, however, that cutting out just one soda per day can reduce a child's risk of obesity by 60 percent. If you must stop at the drive-through window, skip the full-calorie soda for a diet soda or, better, water.

McDonald's hamburger

Happy Meal with

Sprite: 590 calories,

20 grams of fat

vs.

McDonald's hamburger

Happy Meal with diet

soda or water: 480

calories, 20 grams of fat

Waiter, I'd Like to Order

The Nutritional Information

Lesson: New York City has required all chain restaurants with more than 15 outlets to put calorie and fat information on their menus. To comply, dozens of chains, from Applebee's to Olive Garden, have been scrambling to make nutritional information available to customers. Starting June 4, restaurants that don't provide the information risk a fine. If you can't tell whether an item is healthy, ask your server, or visit the restaurant's Web site.

Romano's Macaroni

Grill's Chicken Caesar

salad: 69 grams fat

vs.

Romano's Macaroni

Grill's BBQ Chicken

Pizza: 24 grams of fat

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