There are approximately 14,000 McDonald’s and 5000 KFCs in the United States, this only reflects the popularity of fast food. Food that is prepared and served quickly is termed as ‘fast food’. Such type of food perfectly suits the fast-paced life of a working individual. There are those who highlight its adverse effects. Despite all the debate about the advantages and disadvantages that fast food has, the industry is flourishing.
Advantages of Fast Food
The most evident advantage of fast food is that it saves time. In today’s fast-paced life, there is nothing better than getting a ready meal. Besides the time an individual has to spend in the kitchen, cooking a meal, also requires one to make a trip to the supermarket to buy the ingredients for the dish. Then, there is the added effort and time consumed in washing and peeling the vegetables. All this makes eating fast food more preferable over cooking a meal for a busy individual.
Saving money gives fast food an edge over the meal prepared in the kitchen. If one lives alone, then it is cheaper to buy a meal at the supermarket instead of cooking it at home. Also, certain fast foods like fries and burgers come pretty cheap.
Disadvantages of Fast Food
Usually, fast food is higher in soya, fat, sugar, oil, fried meat, salt, cheese, and mayonnaise. The greatest disadvantage of fast food is the adverse effect that it has on one’s health. It may contain harmful bacteria too. Frying also destroys most of the essential nutrients from the food. Very small amounts of vegetables and fruits are present in fast food.
Bigger is Better
Moreover, ‘serving larger portions’ when most people don’t need extra portions has led to several health problems. We require a small amount of salt to maintain the health of the cells and tissues. Fast food being rich in salt, adversely affects the heart health and the overall health of an individual. Such type of food is an important contributor to obesity in the American population. Obesity is on the rise, and a direct link is being cited between fast food and obesity in children.
High in Cholesterol
Given the sedentary lifestyle that we lead today, the excess fats and calories that we consume is not burnt. These accumulate in our body as fat deposits that cause complications like cardiovascular diseases and other related diseases of the heart. With obesity come other problems like high blood pressure and diseases of the joints. In fact, a recent study has shown that people who live within walking distance of a fast food restaurant are at 13% higher risk of suffering from strokes.
The greater the number of people at a meal in a fast food restaurant, the larger is the bill. Eating at fast food outlets is economical only for a single person. Going out to a fast food eating joint with family once in a while won’t matter much. However, frequent visits to such restaurants with one’s family can become quite an expensive affair, besides being unhealthy.
Reduces Quality Time
Fast food joints are also being seen as a factor that is making a number of families spend less and less time together. Family meal time is something that is considered as an opportunity for all the members to come together and share their experiences. However, the fast food centers are quickly eating into this quality time. This is especially true about youngsters for whom a fast food center is a good place to hangout with friends and peers.
Can it be made healthy?
Fast food does raise health concerns. However, if careful, you can find some options on the menu of a fast food restaurant that could be healthier. Salads are a smart choice. Go for bread products that are made from wheat bread. Opt for lean meat. If you could choose between the fried and boiled options, order the boiled preparation. Avoid ordering carbonic drinks when you are thirsty. Go for fruit juices, low-fat milk, diet soda. Is there anything better than plain water to quench your thirst?
These days, nutrition information of the food served (and ingredients used) is displayed on the menu card. You could always resort to the ‘make to order’ option that certain fast food outlets offer, where you could restrict the use of ingredients that are not healthy. As dessert does not play an important role in the fast food meal menu, you can keep yourself away from delicious and tempting sugary dishes.
Fast food is an invention of the modern times. Ready-made food being served fast is like a blessing after a hard day’s work. However, like everything, it has its own pros and cons. Citing a few points about the advantages of fast food does not mean that I am denying its drawbacks. It is a fact that high amounts of fats and salt in fast food are raising concerns about their adverse effect on health. However, by making some smart choices while placing the order and also resorting to an active lifestyle, we can definitely minimize the drawbacks of fast food.