Best: Turkey Sandwich
Start with whole-grain bread instead of white. Whole-grain bread slows down how carbs get into your blood. The meat is high in protein and low in fat. Turkey also has B vitamins, iron, and zinc. Add lettuce, tomato, and mustard to give it some pizzazz, but skip the mayo, which adds fat and calories.
Worst: Bacon Cheeseburger
No surprise here. The ground beef, bacon, and cheese are all loaded with calories and fat. You can easily eat more than half of your calories for the day and go way over on your saturated fat. And that's if you don't add fries.
A typical bun made from white flour adds simple carbs that could spike your blood sugar, too
Its fiber fills you up and keeps you regular. Antioxidants help protect against disease and cell damage, too.
A cup of popcorn has less than a quarter of the calories of the same amount of potato chips, and it satisfies you better. Go easy on the butter, salt, cheese, and other stuff. They can add fat and calories.
Worst: Flavored Potato Chips
Potatoes are vegetables, right? So what's so bad about them? Well nothing, until you fry them up in oil and cover them in chemicals to flavor and preserve them. Then they become a calorie-dense fat and salt bomb. In the case of flavored chips like barbecue and sour cream and onion, sugar is often added, too.
Best: Steak Salad
It's a way to get your red meat fix while keeping fat, simple carbs, and calories to a minimum. The only big variable is the dressing, which can add a lot of fat and sugar if you're not careful. But a salad with vegetables and lean filet dressed lightly with a bit of oil and vinegar or lime juice makes for a healthy and satisfying meal.
Worst: Philly Cheese Steak
So much fat drips from this steak and cheese sandwich that there's a special stance, the "Philly lean," that experts say you should use to keep it from dripping onto your shirt.
Add the white bread it's on and combo it with fries and a soda and you could get close to your calorie limit for the day in a single meal.
Best: Spaghetti Marinara
Pasta has a low glycemic index, which means your body absorbs it more slowly and it keeps you satisfied longer. As part of a balanced diet, it might even lower your body fat. But keep it chewy. Your body absorbs mushy, overcooked pasta more quickly. That could spike your blood sugar.
Tomatoes in your sauce can protect your heart health and help keep cancer away. Just watch for added salt and sugar in bottled sauces.
Worst: Mac And Cheese
It's loaded with calories and fat, including the saturated type. That might have something to do with the fact that it often includes milk, cheese, cream, white flour, and bread crumbs.
It's not that you can't ever have it. It's just not a good idea to eat it regularly.
Best: Caesar Salad
If the only thing that "romaines" in your fridge is some romaine lettuce and eggs, don't fret. You have almost everything you need for this satisfying and nutritious feast. Eggs have vitamin D and amino acids. The lettuce is loaded with B vitamins, iron, and potassium. You could also use some grilled chicken, croutons, olive oil, mustard, and, if you're adventurous, anchovies.
The tortilla chips are fried in fat and covered in salt. The meat, often beef, has more fat, as does the cheese and sour cream that can go on top. Sauces and salsas can add more salt. It all adds up to a meal that could meet or exceed your calorie, sodium, and saturated fat recommendations for the day.
Best: Grilled Chicken
Skinless chicken breast is low in fat. You can use a spice rub or simple marinade and throw it on the grill. It's high-protein, low-fat, and low-calorie, especially compared to the burgers or sausages that might share space on your grill.
Any extra fat from leftover skin or oil should be on the outside and will drip away during cooking. If you don't have a grill, you can broil your chicken in the oven.
Worst: Buffalo Wings
Take the fattiest, dark meat of a chicken -- the legs and wings -- leave the skin on so there's even more fat, dredge them in white flour, deep fry them in oil, and cover them in a sauce with lots of chemical preservatives and lots of salt. Then dip them into blue cheese or ranch sauce with more calories and fat. The result: a big nutritional price.
Best: Berry Oat Crisp
Look for recipes with more oats, nuts, and fruit, and less white flour, sugar, and butter. Berries are low-calorie and have antioxidants that help keep your veins flexible and your blood pressure low.
Oats have soluble fiber that can lower your cholesterol and boost your immune system. They also have antioxidants to protect your cells. Nuts have "healthy fats" like omega-3s that are good for your heart health, and they fill you up.
Worst: New York Cheesecake
Cheese, milk, cream, sugar, sour cream, and butter are just some of the ingredients in this sugar, fat, and calorie spectacular. And if that's not enough, many recipes add a crust made from graham crackers or cookies. It might be best to have a bite of your friend's slice and leave it at that.
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