You know to pass on the deep-fried onion, and the slice of cheesecake the size of your head-but what about the green smoothie, or the yogurt parfait? Restaurants have a way of loading calories and sugar into even healthy-sounding orders. And then there are food safety issues to consider: Some menu items carry a higher risk of foodborne illness than others. To help you order smarter the next time you eat out, we’ve compiled this list of dishes to rule out.
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Medium-rare burger
When ground beef isn’t cooked to the proper temperature (160 degrees F) nasty bacteria may remain. (That’s why it’s on our list of the 14 most dangerous summer foods.) An undercooked burger is riskier than an undercooked steak, according to a recent Consumer Reports study, because harmful microbes tend to be mixed throughout ground beef-whereas with whole cuts of meat, the microbes are more likely to stay on the surface and die off when exposed to heat. Ask for your burger cooked to at least medium.
Rum (or vodka) and diet soda
Booze and a diet drink may actually enhance the health effects of alcohol, a small 2015 study from Northern Kentucky University found. Subjects who drank that combination had a 25% higher breath alcohol concentration than when they drank cocktails with a non-diet mixer. The researchers point out that the lower calorie count isn’t worth it. In addition to the obvious risks, eating while buzzed makes it harder to resist temptations.
The value meal
It can be tempting to order off the value menu at a fast food restaurant to get the most bang for your buck. But one double cheeseburger, fries, and drink could add up to 1,100 calories and nearly 50 grams of fat. And chowing down may have immediate consequences. After healthy people ate a high-fat meal, their blood pressure was higher when faced with a stressor compared to when they ate a low-fat one, found research from the Journal of Nutrition.
Water with lemon
Order the water-but you may want to hold the citrus. In a study published in the Journal of Environmental Health, researchers tested 76 lemons from 21 restaurants and found that 70% of them were contaminated with bacteria. Ick.
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