Thursday, February 07, 2013

Restaurant Food Not So Bad

Eating out is less nutritious than eating at home. Everyone knows that, right? But with so little time to plan and prepare nutritious, home-cooked meals, perhaps restaurants are providing us with the salads and side dishes our mother begged us to eat.

According to a USDA study, restaurant food (including sit-down and fast-food restaurants, carry-outs, and home deliveries) supplied 32 percent of our caloric intake in 2005-08, nearly double the 18 percent of 1977-78. Restaurant food was higher in saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol than food prepared at home. But--despite the growing share of calories supplied by restaurant meals--our consumption of fat has declined over the years. So maybe restaurants aren't all that bad, and it could be they will get better at providing us with a more varied (and nutritious) diet than we can make for ourselves at home.

Source: USDA, Economic Research Service, Nutritional Quality of Food Prepared at Home and Away from Home, 1977-2008

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