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WATCH OUT FOR FAT, SALT IN ETHNIC FOODS

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Most Americans can identify American junk food - greasy french fries and sugary cookies set the standard - but identifying ethnic junk food may be more difficult.

Registered dietitians at the University of Alabama at Birmingham offer the following tips on enjoying your favorite ethnic foods without wrecking a healthful diet:- Mexican food lovers should avoid fried tortillas, fried chips, sour cream and guacamole dip because of their high fat contents. The ground beef used in tacos and other favorites also is high in fat. Flour tortillas filled with beans, lettuce and tomatoes are a more healthful alternative.

- Pizza, which is high in salt, is a bad choice for people watching their intake of sodium. Many meat toppings are high in fat, but pizza made with vegetable toppings contains little fat.

- Fried egg rolls are at the top of the list of Chinese foods to avoid because of their high fat content. Some people also are sensitive to monosodium glutamate, which is used in many Chinese dishes. Stir-fried vegetables are an excellent nutritional choice, particularly if they are cooked with little fat.

- Cajun-style cooking, which uses primarily lean, low-fat meats and plenty of vegetables, generally is a healthful choice. Cajun foods contain lots of pepper, though, so people who are sensitive to pepper may need to avoid Cajun specialties.