Try these 10 tips to make restaurant meals healthier
Treating yourself and your family to meals at a fancy restaurant or something quick from fast food can dramatically increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, according to a recent study.
The study, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, is the first to show a direct link between dining out and high blood pressure. Previous studies have shown a connection between dining out and a higher intake of calories, salt and fat, all of which are linked to high blood pressure.
Researchers looked at 501 adults between the ages of 18 and 40 for this study, specifically focusing on young adults because high blood pressure earlier in life has been associated with future heart disease risks. (Note: We’re more likely to have heart disease triggered by high blood pressure than other races.) They collected information about the study participants’ blood pressure, body mass index and lifestyle factors (including meals eaten away from home and physical activity) in an effort to determine the impact of lifestyle factors on prehypertension and hypertension in young adults.
Prehypertension is diagnosed when the systolic (top figure) blood pressure is between 120mm Hg and 139mm Hg and/or the diastolic (bottom figure) blood pressure between 80mm Hg and 89mm Hg. Hypertension is defined as a systolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 140mm Hg and/or a diastolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 90mm Hg.
Both top and bottom numbers do not have to be elevated to be diagnosed with prehypertension or hypertension. If systolic alone is high, that can lead to a diagnosis. The same applies if diastolic alone is high.
Key study results showed:
- 27.4 percent of participants had prehypertension
- 49 percent of male participants and 9 percent of female participants had prehypertension
- 38 percent of participants dined out for more than 12 meals per week
- 2.2 percent of participants had hypertension
Researchers also found those participants with prehypertension and hypertension tended to eat out more often, have a higher BMI and exercise less than those without prehypertension and hypertension.
The study also revealed this alarming fact: Eating just one extra meal out each week increased the risk of prehypertension 6 percent.
We know everybody’s going to dine out sometimes. Follow these healthier eating tips when you do:
- Choose a small or medium portions. This includes main dishes, side dishes and beverages. If the portion is still too large, try an appetizer-sized portion or a side dish instead of an entree.
- Order water, fat-free or low-fat milk, unsweetened tea or other drinks without added sugars.
- Have whole-wheat bread on sandwiches.
- Start your meal with a salad packed with veggies to help control hunger and feel satisfied. Have the salad dressing served on the side.
- Choose main courses loaded with vegetables, such as stir fries, kebobs or pasta with tomato sauce.
- Order steamed, grilled or broiled dishes instead of fried or sautéed ones.
- Skip creamy sauces and gravies. Add little or no butter to your food.
- Split an entree with your dining companion.
- Choose fruit for dessert.
- When your food is delivered, set aside half of it to take home in a doggie bag. Have that leftover portion for lunch the next day.