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The Super Bowl of Snacking

Low-fat alternatives can be a smart health choice

SUNDAY, Feb. 5, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Here are the facts: 11.2 million pounds of potato chips; 8.2 million pounds of tortilla chips; 4.3 million pounds of pretzels; 3.8 million pounds of popcorn, and 2.5 million pounds of nuts.

That adds up to 30 million pounds of snacks that Americans will wolf down Super Bowl Sunday, according to research by the Calorie Control Council and the Snack Food Association.

That means the average armchair quarterback will consume 1,200 calories and 50 grams of fat just from snacking -- not counting any meals.

The Calorie Control Council reports that potato chips, the snacking favorite, will account for 27 billion calories and 1.8 billion grams of fat. Those 1.8 billion grams of fat equal 4 million pounds of fat -- and 4 million pounds of fat are equivalent to the weight of 13,000 National Football League offensive linemen, if they weighed 300 pounds each, according to the council.

To help cut the fat quotient, the council recommends "pre-planning" your Super Bowl party menu to include no-fat and low-fat chips and dips. For example, choosing fat-free potato chips could save up to 300 calories per person.

As for dips, it's possible to cut the fat without cutting the flavor, according to the council. For starters, try salsa, which is fat-free, or reduced-fat sour cream and non-fat yogurt. You can also use fresh herbs and spices such as cilantro, parsley and hot peppers to boost flavor. And it's a good idea to serve fresh vegetables and low-fat dips at a party as a healthy alternative, no matter the occasion.

Beth Hubrich, a dietitian with the council, also suggests a "pre-Super Bowl Workout" before sitting down to catch the game. "For example, to burn off those 1,200 calories from snacking during the Super Bowl, it would take three hours of walking around a football field, or 1 hour and 45 minutes of running. Or, if you want to get into the game spirit, it would take two hours of playing touch football to burn those calories," she said in a prepared statement.

"You certainly don't want to have a dietitian at your Super Bowl party calling 'interference' when you and your friends start overindulging. But by doing a little game-planning in advance, you can avoid becoming one of the millions of fans who eat 50 grams of fat in a very short period of time," Hubrich said.

The council is a non-profit association of companies that make low-calorie and reduced-fat foods and beverages.

More information

Visit the Calorie Control Council Web site for more Super Bowl party recipes.

SOURCE: Newswise, news release, Feb. 2, 2006
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