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Avoiding Trans-Fats When Eating Out

Most readers of this site now understand how to avoid trans-fats: read the label and be on the lookout for “partially hydrogenated oil”. If “partially hydrogenated oil” is in the ingredients, the food contains trans-fats. But how do you avoid trans-fats while eating out, when the ingredient list is almost never available?

One sure way to do it is to avoid fried food. Consider the steak-house staple, a batter-dipped fried whole onion. That ever-popular appetizer contains a whopping 2100 calories and an even more incredible 18 grams of trans fats. And while you might think that fried clams or fried seafood combo is a low-carb lover’s delight, consider that a typical order of fried calms has at least 10 grams worth of trans-fats. Many family-style chains use unhealthy, inexpensive shortening to fry in. And even the chains that use liquid oils will frequently rely on partially hydrogenated fats to par-fry before shipping.

Most readers of this site will probably avoid pastries like the 670 calorie Cinnabon just for the sugar content. But be aware that those slabs of margarine that the chef slaps on the dough add six grams of trans (and nine more of saturated) fat to the final product. Even the pastries of upscale bakers which use butter (far better than margarine) typically contain about 3 grams of trans fats.

At Chinese restaurants pick lower-fat dishes like stir fried vegetables or shrimp. At dinner house chains try the barbeque or grilled chicken breast. If you’re at McDonald’s, a grilled chicken deluxe without the mayo (and without the bread if you’re watching processed carbs) is a good choice. And at seafood restaurants, stick with the broiled fish and vegetables with a little butter for seasoning.

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