Variety, as the saying goes, is the spice of life. Americans by and large certainly enjoy to mix and match what they have for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In a bid to improve their health, they're going about eating better by partaking in a host of highly recommended dishes for good health and well-being, a trend that restaurateurs should be sure to monitor as they improve their fresh ingredients supply chains.

Nearly three quarters of Americans eat seafood at least once a month, according to a newly released survey from Technomic. Additionally, around half restrict their meals to vegetarian or vegan options once or more per month. Vegan foods are not only meatless but also don't use any by-products of animals, such as eggs or dairy.
"Vegetarian friendly options are for the most part few and far between."

Vegetarian, vegan options limited
Even though Americans are generally quite pleased with the eateries they dine at, according to recent Gallup polling, vegetarian friendly options are for the most part few and far between. Just 27 percent of respondents who said they eat vegetarian or vegan diets regularly said restaurants had plenty of good-tasting options available, the Technomic study revealed.

Bret Yonke, manager of consumer insights at Technomic, noted that the frequency with which consumers opt for dishes that are plant-based has led to new terminology.

"'Semivegetarian' and 'flexitarian' diets appeal to those who aspire to eat healthier while still providing leeway to splurge on meat or seafood occasionally," Yonke explained. "To cater to shifting behaviors, operators can offer protein substitutes for certain dishes or create a handful of build-your-own options that give consumers an even greater level of control."

Restaurants making it easier to eat healthy when dining out
Dietitians often urge their clients who are trying to lose weight to steer clear of restaurants and to make their own lunches and dinners so that they can better practice portion control and know for certain what it is they're eating. However, more quick serve and fast food chains are peeling back the curtain in terms of supply chain transparency. As noted by Restaurant Dive, franchises such as Wahlburgers, Carl's Jr. and Fatburger provide details in their menus on what specific ingredients are used in their dishes as well as the caloric content. Several locations are also offering meatless burgers, where the meats are replaced with vegetables that have a similar consistency to beef, such as Portobello mushroom. It's crucial that fresh vegetables be chilled as soon as they're harvested to delay spoilage. This necessitates a fully functional supply chain and selecting ingredients from local farmers.

Restaurants must also pay close attention to how they prepare their dishes to avoid overspicing them, which can contribute to high blood pressure. Sodium use has risen substantially over the past 30 years. Researchers from Boston University found that larger quantities of sodium were used in all menu categories among the nation's largest fast food restaurants today compared to 1986. The results of the study were published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
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