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Five Amazingly Unhealthy Super Bowl Foods

A Report by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
February 2010

As the Indianapolis Colts prepare to confront the New Orleans Saints at Sun Life Stadium, dietitians with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine are urging football fans to consider the downside of high-fat Super Bowl snacks. Even one very high-fat meal can increase the risk of a heart attack that same day, and high-stakes sporting events can compound that risk. High-fat, high-cholesterol diets put consumers at increased risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

But many consumers do not realize just how unhealthful many Super Bowl party foods actually are. To help football fans make informed choices, PCRM dietitians analyzed party-style foods advertised as Super Bowl fare or promoted on the Web site of the National Football League.

Findings

PCRM dietitians evaluated the most heavily promoted Super Bowl food products and found that many contain astonishingly high levels of saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol. Here are five shockingly unhealthful products:

Shocking Nutrition Facts about Five Super Bowl Foods

Food

Source

Nutrition Shocker

Tuna Melt (large)

Quiznos

1,793 calories

The Meats Pan Crust Pizza
(2 slices)

Papa John’s

56 grams of fat

Muffuletta Potato Skins

Food Network’s “32 Team Potato Skins” recipes

Derives 54 percent of calories from saturated fat

Honey BBQ Hot Wings
(5 wings with dipping sauce)

KFC

35 grams of fat

Cheesesticks and Special Garlic Dipping Sauce (4 sticks)

Papa John’s

1,170 milligrams of sodium

 

Background

Super Bowl Sunday is the second-biggest food consumption day of the year in the United State, and fast-food companies are working overtime to make sure fans at home are overindulging in hot wings, pepperoni pizza, and other high-fat fare.

Regular consumption of high-fat foods increases the long-term risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. High-fat meals can even raise the risk of a heart attack on game day itself: Sports fans already face an elevated risk of heart attack while viewing stressful sporting events, and other research has found that a single fatty meal, like pizza or chicken wings, can raise blood pressure, stiffen major arteries, and cause the heart to beat harder. A 2008 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the number of heart attacks in one major city doubled during a big sports event.

Detailed Results

1. Quiznos Tuna Melt
One large tuna melt: 1,793 calories, 28 grams of saturated fat, 2,078 milligrams of sodium
Some consumers may think a tuna melt is a healthy alternative to meaty pizzas. But this sandwich packs a whopping 1,793 calories and 28 grams of saturated fat—that is more saturated fat in one sandwich than anyone should consume in an entire day.

2. Papa John’s The Meats Pan Crust Pizza
Two slices: 920 calories, 56 grams of fat, 20 grams of saturated fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 2,080 milligrams of sodium
This pizza derives 54 percent of its calories from fat—and just two slices offer 20 grams of artery-clogging saturated fat.

3. The Food Network’s Muffuletta Potato Skins
Two potato skins: 601 calories, 26 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 68 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,076 milligrams of sodium
Potatoes are not an unhealthful food—unless you top them with piles of high-fat deli meat and cheese. This recipe—courtesy of the Food Network’s “32 Team Potato Skins,” which offers a potato topper for every team in the NFL—furnishes consumers with a dish that derives 54 percent of its calories from artery-clogging saturated fat.

4. KFC’s Honey BBQ Hot Wings
Five wings, creamy ranch dipping sauce:  590 calories, 35 grams of fat, 7.5 grams of saturated fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,530 milligrams of sodium
The wings themselves are high in fat, but the dipping sauce derives all of its calories—yes, 100 percent of them—from fat.

5.  Papa John’s Cheesesticks and Special Garlic Dipping Sauce
Four sticks and dipping sauce: 520 calories, 33 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,170 milligrams of sodium
The official pizza sponsor of Super Bowl XLIV is back with another item—this time with a garlic sauce that contains 17 grams of fat per serving.

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