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Americans generally aren't known for having healthy diets, and many of the restaurant chains that dot the nation's landscape indulge our appetites for foods that are high in fat, cholesterol and salt.
But as many people increasingly become aware of how their food choices affect their wellness, some chains are beginning to offer menu options that are more heart healthy.
Yes, that even includes the time-honored staple of many modern U.S. diets -- fast food.
To qualify as a heart healthy option, the item must meet guidelines established by the American Heart Association .
- meals that are at or below 650 total calories;
- have no more than 20 grams of total fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 100 milligrams of cholesterol;
- and, contain between 800-850 milligrams of sodium
The association's Heart Healthy Diet is based on consuming about 2,000 calories daily.
Healthier dining options available at popular restaurant chains
Applebee's menu includes items that are part of the Weight Watchers diet plan. Many of the options also are heart healthy, such as grilled jalapeno-lime shrimp. It has 300 calories, 6 grams of fat, 43 grams of carbohydrates and 22 grams of protein.
Chipotle lets customers choose their own ingredients for its burritos, burrito bowls and tacos, and some of the combinations qualify as heart healthy. Items prepared with rice, beans and vegetables – and not cheese or sour cream – contain less than 5 grams of fat.
Domino's Pizza offers a classic hand-tossed cheese pizza. Two slices contain 372 calories, 11 grams of fat, 18 milligrams of cholesterol, 770 milligrams of sodium and 14 grams of protein.
KFC has a honey barbeque Snacker sandwich. It contains 220 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 490 milligrams of sodium and 15 grams of protein.
McDonald's menu includes a Caesar salad with grilled chicken and low-fat Italian dressing. It contains 270 calories, 8.5 grams of fat, 80 milligrams of cholesterol, 490 milligrams of sodium and 31 grams of protein.
Outback Steakhouse offers its "grilled chicken on the barbie with steamed vegetables" entrée without butter added to the recipe, but customers have to request it. Without the butter, it has just 9 grams of fat.
Subway has a club sandwich with 320 calories, 6 grams of fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 490 milligrams of sodium and 24 grams of protein.
Taco Bell has a grilled steak soft taco that has 170 calories, 5 grams of fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol and 560 milligrams of sodium.
(Sources: Better Homes and Gardens, Livestrong)
Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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