Area teens often select fast foods and Chinese carry-out meals as a major part of their daily diets. While relatively inexpensive and easy to access, the regular consumption of many of these meals have led to the development of chronic conditions years later.
In an effort to address some of these meals head on, the Informer "Street Team" asked local teens their Top 3 choices for daily meals and then passed that information on to Howard University dietician Dr. Baker, who provided meal analyses for each meal based on the actual additions, substitutions, and adjustments of the teens' orders. Baker identified the caloric content based on the food composite courtesy of the USDA Food Database. Lesson: Sometimes it is not what the restaurant serves, but how a customer orders it that determines its health value.
6 fried wings-1944 calories (1 wing has 324 kcal per serving)
White Rice- 242 calories
Mumbo Sauce- 150 calorie equivalent to sweat and sour sauce with adjustments in sugar and fat content
Total Calorie content of this meal = 2336 calorie
Total calories from Fat = 1278 kcal
When analyzing a meal and its appropriateness, one has to first look at the composition of the food content of the meal. Upon analyzing this meal the following was noted:
This meal is very high-calorie dense, but has limited nutrient value. Based on the method of preparation and combination of the food item, I would suggest that the consumption of this meal be limited to once per week. If this type of meal is consumed on a regular basis it may put the person at risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and excessive weight gain. It may also lead to other metabolic syndromes and health conditions that affect the individual's nutritional status. This meal is low in sugar but high in sodium and fat. Due to its high fat content a person who consumes it on a regular basis is at high risk for dyslipedemia and high cholesterol which may prove to have detrimental effects on their health.
Chicken Burrito Bowl – 696 calories
Extra Cheese- 212 calories (106 calories per table spoon)
Sour Cream – 46 (23 calories per table spoon)
2 salad dressings – 240 calories (80 calories per table spoon)
Total Calories for this meal = 1194 calories
Total Calories from fat = 470 calories
From hindsight this meal seems to be the healthiest option of the three meals in content. This meal has a high nutrient value judging and would be considered a balanced meal taking into consideration that it consists of vegetables, fat, protein and carbohydrates in acceptable quantity. The fat, sodium and sugar content of the bowl is not very high and this makes it a healthy option. My only objection is the addition of the side dressing, cheese and sour cream which has a high fat content that might contribute some negative health attributes to the meal.
A healthy alternative would be to limit the amount of sides added to the burrito and to also reduce the serving size which is too large to be consumed in one setting. If these few adjustments are made this would make a healthy meal which can be consumed on a regular basis. The vegetable and fresh meat content does not outweigh the cheese, sour cream and sodium content of the salad dressing as this would not reduce the fat and sodium content of the meal that would still have possible mal-health effects.
Regular cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, pickles, fried onion rings, mayonnaise and ketchup – 1061 calories
Small Z- Fries- 328 calories
Total Calories = 1389 calories
Calories from fat= 882 calories
Now looking as this Z- burger one will salivate at the sight of the dish however looks are deceiving. This meal is very high in sodium, fat and cholesterol. Consuming this meal on a daily basis would result in possible risk of weight gain and cardiovascular diseases, in addition to metabolic syndrome.
A healthier alternative would be to eliminate the bacon, use grilled chicken instead of fried chicken or beef, reduce the amount of mayonnaise and cheese or use reduced fat dairy products instead. One could also replace the fries with a salad thus increasing vegetable intake and reducing the carbohydrate content.