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Eat This, Not that When Dining at an Italian Restaurant

Making a healthy choice at an Italian restaurant can be difficult. Typically, the servers don't have enough nutritional knowledge to be able to tell you, "Eat this, not that." Below are three traditional items served at Italian restaurants, and offers some healthier alternatives. With choices this delicious, you'll be wanting to eat at your favorite Italian restaurant every night of the week!

Marinara Sauce, not Alfredo Sauce

One of the most important choices you make when eating out at an Italian restaurant is what you will be eating for your main course. Research has found that the most two popular choices at Italian restaurants are good old spaghetti marinara and fettuccine Alfredo. Though these two items may seem somewhat similar - after all, they do both start with the same type of noodle and are covered with sauce - there are many important differences that can impact your health and waistline. While marinara sauces are traditionally made with a combination of tomatoes, herbs and wine, and therefore contain numerous vitamins and minerals that are important for good health, Alfredo sauce is usually loaded with fat and calories. Alfredo sauce is most often made with cream, butter and Parmesan cheese, all of which contain high amounts of saturated fats which have been linked to the development of cardiovascular disease, stroke and even death.

Garden Salad, not Caesar Salad

A salad makes a great choice for lunch or a light dinner when eating out at an Italian restaurant, but be careful what type of salad you order to prevent excessive intake of fat and calories. Garden salads typically contain only lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables, and usually have a light dressing such as a balsamic vinaigrette. Caesar salad, on the other hand, is usually loaded with cheese, croutons and Caesar dressing, all of which contain lots of fat and calories. If you insist on having a Caesar salad, it is possible to make a few changes in order to get a healthier meal. For starters, ask that the dressing be served on the side. This way, you can dip your salad into the dressing instead of having it smothered over the greens. Ask for half of the amount of croutons and cheese. While these items may seem relatively harmless, in reality they are loaded with sodium. Sodium not only can lead to water retention, but has been found to lead to the development of arterial or heart disease.

Fresh Fruit, not Tiramisu

Choose wisely when picking dessert at an Italian restaurant. While most people love to get tiramisu after an Italian meal, they are not aware that this tasty dessert contains rich cream, marscapone cheese and other ingredients that will not only affect your health but also your waistline. For a healthier dessert, ask for a cup of fresh fruit. You'll still get a sweet ending to your meal, without all the extra calories and fat grams.

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