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Are Burgers Health Food?

hamburgerThe point of the game was to plow your little person through each “healthy food” on the screen on the race to the finish line. So when my daughter’s little avatar hit into a hamburger only to have the gaming system tell her “that’s not a healthy food,” we were both confused.

Is a hamburger really an unhealthy food?

I’m  not talking about taking  my four-year-old to Mickey D’s for dinner – feeding your kids a steady diet of fast food burgers is like courting cholesterol problems.

But burgers made at home with lean beef on whole wheat buns – or no bun at all – are probably a once weekly meal in our house. Accompanied by a green vegetable (peas, broccoli, beans . . . ), and topped off with tomatoes, lettuce, onions or a lower fat cheese, they’re nothing like what you’d find in a fast food joint.

The burger itself is a source of protein, iron, zinc, selenium and B vitamins. The accompanying vegetables each have their strong suits, and even the cheese is a good source of calcium. So what’s the problem?

Burgers have gotten a bad rap. We associate them not just with McDonald’s or Wendy’s but with people picking up some fat laden ground beef at the grocery store, frying it within an inch of its life, slapping on bacon and mayo and slipping it on a white bread bun. Not healthy, we get it.

But you can have a “better burger,” and starting our kids off on those better versions guarantees they won’t feel like they’re suffering down the road when you suddenly make a switch to the healthy version.

Want to know how health your burger is? Enter the stats from your package into the USDA’s Ground Beef Calculator to gauge the nutrients within.

Do you serve burgers to the kids?

Image: pointnshoot, flickr

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