Nando's pride themselves on being the first fast-food chain in South Africa to commission independent nutritional research on all their major meal offerings, and say they do this "to enable customers to make better eating decisions".
In fact, Nando's is so serious about their commitment to giving customers information about their foods that they've published a brochure called "eat responsibly". Anyone can obtain a copy at their nearest Nando's branch.
The brochure lists the energy (in kJ and calories), protein, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, carbohydrate and sodium contents of all the various starters, chicken burgers, meals and side items available at Nando's. This makes it easy for you to check just how much energy, fat etc. you will ingest when you buy a food item from this fast-food outlet.
The brochure also provides interesting facts about Peri-Peri (which Nando's is famous for), the Prudent Dietary Guidelines and a Q&A session with their consulting dietician, Nicole Sacks.
According to Nicole, people with cholesterol problems should select the menu items that are made with chicken breasts without skin. These include Nando's Strips and Spicy Rice (only 5g of fat and 65mg cholesterol per serving) or Nando's Chicken Burger (only 7g of fat and 66 mg of cholesterol), served with a Flame-Grilled Mealie (2g fat and 0mg cholesterol) and/or Seasonal Salad (0.25g fat and 0mg cholesterol).
For individuals who want to lose weight, the following Nando's items have the lowest kJ content, namely less than 2100 kJ or 1/3 of the daily energy intake for an adult woman who is trying to lose weight:
- All the standard-size Chicken Burgers (cheese, pine, cheese and pine flavours), and the Vegetarian burgers
- Chicken Pita
- Chicken Strips and Rice
- Beef or Chicken Prego
- Chicken Steak
- Sweet and Sticky Wings
- A 1/4 Flame-grilled Chicken
- Chicken Espetada
Sacks points out that because Nando's chicken is flame-grilled and not fried, it is lower in fat than deep-fried chicken. For serious dieters there is also the option to order your chicken without skin which will reduce the energy, fat and cholesterol contents even further.
As a rule of thumb, all Nando's meals made with chicken breasts or white meat are good options for dieters. As side-dishes Seasonal Salad, or a Flame-Grilled Mealie, or Spicy Rice are low in energy and fat and can be used to replace chips.
People with high blood pressurem who need to avoid salt, can still eat Nando's Peri-Peri Chicken because Nando's have reduced the salt content of their Peri-Peri marinade by 50%. Just don't add extra salt when you eat your meal. The Nando's Chicken Wrap has the lowest sodium content (413 mg) for customers who have to reduce their salt intake.
Protein foods like chicken are all low GI. Sacks recommends Nando's Chicken Strips with Rice, Flame-Grilled Mealie, Chicken Wraps and Chicken Pita as good low-GI options.
This goes to show that fast food need not be a no-no for anyone who needs to lose weight, lower their cholesterol or blood pressure, or is on a low-GI diet. The Nando's approach makes it easy for slimmers, hypertensives and patients with diabetes or insulin resistance, who are on low-GI or low-cholesterol diets, to pop in to one of their branches and buy a ready-to-eat meal that's not loaded with kilojoules, fat, saturated fat, cholesterol or sodium.
Remember to ask for the "eat responsibly" brochure the next time you visit Nando's, so that you can refer to it whenever you're in the mood for a Nando's meal.
For more information, visit www.nandos.co.za or call 0860 11 3332.
- (Dr Ingrid van Heerden, DietDoc, October 2008)