With so many of us dining out on a weekly basis, one must ponder the above question.

Many of us know that fast food is unhealthy, although we eat it anyway. However, few of us ever wonder what goes into the dishes served up in restaurants.

We almost always assume that all the ingredients are fresh and that they’ve all retained their nutritional value… but there is a twist. As the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition has recently pointed out, those of us who eat out at restaurants could be consuming more salt and cholesterol than if we had to go to a fast food chain or a burger joint.

The study, which used data collected through a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey taken between 2003 and 2010, analysed the eating habits of 19,000 adults over two days. The report’s results were astounding.

While eating fast foods adds an extra 190 calories a day to a person’s intake, restaurant foods add 187 calories. While daily intake of fat was an extra 10 grams for both, restaurant food resulted in an extra 58mg of cholesterol and 412mg of sodium, as opposed to an extra 10mg of cholesterol and 297mg of sodium from fast food.

Funnily enough, when eating restaurant food at home (i.e. take out) people had an extra 121 calories as opposed to an extra 200 calories when at a restaurant. This may come as a surprise, but the reason is much simpler than you may think: eating out is a social occasion, and so you may be more inclined to overeat.

But, what does all this mean?

Well, as we’ve assumed all along, home cooked food is still the healthiest option on the menu, both in terms of what’s in the dish at hand and in terms of how much we eat.



A restaurant’s ultimate aim is to make sure that the food they serve tastes nice, so extra salt and other ingredients that may not be that healthy for you are thrown in. At home, especially when cooking yourself, you are less likely to put ample amounts of butter, or too much salt, as you know you’ll be eating it later.

So, does this mean you should stop going to restaurants? That’s in your hands… I personally won’t, but I will be more cautious and cook at home whenever I can!


Does this come as a surprise to you? Let us know in the comment section below.