Fast Foods

Fast Foods: Are They Safe and Nutritious?

They are mushrooming everywhere: in the makeshift trolleys outside the high rise buildings at Nariman Point in Mumbai, at the concentric circles that is Connaught Place in Delhi, or even at the stalls coupling the schools and colleges, the supermarkets and cinema houses in Chennai; these fast food joints to have come to rule as our favourite places to eat.

When everything moves at a brisk pace, when men, women and even children are always running short of time, this situation is quite understandable. A plate of steaming hot ‘pav-bhaji’ or a samosa during lunch hour is of course delicious and convenient. But then, are we aware that there is a price to be paid for today’s rapid life eating? For one, we consume these fast foods often as a substitute for a lunch or dinner instead of one as a snack in between. Do they provide the necessary balance in calories that we need? For example, a plate of ‘pav-bhaji’ does supply adequate calories. But these calories are are derived only from the fats coming from the butter and the carbohydrates that spring from the bread served with this tasty dish. In contrast, those that we benefit from a full course meal of fish, dal, rice, chappaties and vegetables come in the right proportion from proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Again, a number of fast foods lack in diet fibre so essential for flushing the waste from our bodies.

There is another danger that comes to mind: the vegetables used to make ‘pav-bhaji’ or the tomatoes in pizza are cooked hours before, and are heated again and again before serving. By doing so, their precious vitamin content is lost to a good extent. Vitamins ‘B’ complex and ‘C’ are very sensitive to high temperatures.

Furthermore, most fast foods contain a variety of spices and excess salt that when consumed regularly can lead to many gastro-intestinal disorders. Finally, many of our fast foods such as ‘bhelpuri’ and ‘samosa’ are served with a number of chutneys. These are often prepared under unhygenic conditions.

Today many of our children live on ‘vegetable puffs’ and ‘crispis’. That’s the pity.

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