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How Much Bacon Does Your Dinner Equal?

Updated 9:48 AM EST, Tue, Apr 12, 2011

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Perhaps this question can help you put into perspective what you are actually consuming when you dine out: How many slices of bacon does your meal equal? You’ve heard it before--Restaurant portions tend to exceed our nutrient needs, but today, we’re dishing facts about saturated fat and sodium.

Why should you care about saturated fats? Eating saturated fats can raise the levels of cholesterol in your blood, increasing your risk of stroke and heart disease. The American Heart Association advises to limit intake of saturated fat to 7% of your total intake, meaning if you consume 2,000 calories in a day, only 140 calories--or 16 g--should come from saturated fat. So, fat is not the enemy at all--healthy fat has a very big place in our diet, even a little saturated fat has a place. But, overdo it and you may increase your risk for heart disease.

Sodium is vital to our health, but overdoing it can increase your risk for disease. 2,300 mg of sodium per day is the recommended intake. For those 51 years or older, for African Americans and those of any age with hypertension, diabetes or chronic disease, the recommendation is to limit intake to 1,500 mg per day.  

Just one slice of bacon has 1.1 g saturated fat and 185 mg sodium. Doesn’t sound so bad right? You are right. One slice is not so bad. But would you eat this many? Check this out!

Take a look at these commonly consumed plates from popular chain restaurant:
• Sante Fe Chicken Salad, 1,220 calories, 24 g sat fat, 3380 mg sodium
• Number of bacon slices you'd have to eat to get this amount of saturated fat: 22
• Better Option at Applebee’s: Weight Watcher’s Cajun Lime Tilapia, 350 calories, 1.5 g sat fat, 1640 mg sodium OR Asiago Peppercorn Steak, 390 calories, 6 g sat fat, 1520 mg sodium

Olive Garden
• Chicken & Shrimp Carbonara, 1,440 calories, 38 g sat fat, 3000 mg sodium
• Number of bacon slices you'd have to eat to get this amount of saturated fat: 35
• Better Option at Olive Garden: Venetian Apricot Chicken, 380 calories, 1.5 g sat fat, 1420 mg sodium

Red Lobster
• Hand-tossed Caesar salad with wood-grilled chicken: 670 calories, 10 g saturated fat, 1750 mg sodium
• Number of bacon slices you'd have to eat to get this amount of saturated fat: 9
• Better Options at Red Lobster: Broiled Sole 365 calories,  0 g sat fat, 670 mg sodium

Promotional consideration provided by Smart Balance. This article is sponsored content and does not reflect the opinions of NBC Local News.

First Published: Apr 11, 2011 5:17 PM EST

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