Super Bowl parties set record demand for chicken wings

The National Chicken Council reports that 1.23 billion chicken wings will be consumed during Super Bowl weekend in 2013. - Courtesy of
The National Chicken Council reports that 1.23 billion chicken wings will be consumed during Super Bowl weekend in 2013.
— image credit: Courtesy of

Super Bowl Sunday is the second highest day of food consumption after Thanksgiving, according to the USDA.

The Calorie Control Council reports that Americans eat 30 million pounds of snacks on game day, with the average football fan consuming 1,200 calories and 50 grams of fat just from snacking. The favorite snack, potato chips, will account for 27 billion calories and 1.8 billion grams of fat.

The National Chicken Council reports that demand for chicken wings, another Super Bowl party staple, is at an all-time high. About 1.23 billion chicken wings will be consumed during Super Bowl weekend in 2013. In a related note, six out of 10 adults eat their chicken wings with ranch dressing, the council reports.

Americans also drink about 325.5 million gallons of beer on Super Bowl Sunday. Beer averages between 100 and 150 calories per serving. However, beers with higher alcohol content such as India Pale Ales are also higher in calories.

Holly Martindale and Emily Hall, registered dietitians at St. Joseph's Outpatient Nutrition Center in Tacoma, suggest more health-conscious snacks for the big game:

• Grilled chicken tenders — no breading or skin

• White bean turkey chili instead of chili cheese dip

• Dips made with roasted red peppers or light sour cream

• Real guacamole with baked tortilla chips

• Hummus

Sodium, sugar and health tips

People can develop a tolerance to sodium, which is typically found in processed foods. Any food item with a seasoning packet — such as ramen noodles or Hamburger Helper — contains large amounts of sodium that lead to health problems like high blood pressure.

The USDA recommends a sodium intake of 2,300 mg or less per day. That's about 1 teaspoon of salt. For adults ages 51 and older, sodium should be limited to 1,500 mg a day.

The recommended amount of sugar per day is 6 teaspoons. However, Americans consume 22 teaspoons of sugar a day from soda, juice, energy drinks, cakes, candies and other sweet treats.

"Foods high in sugar tend to be empty calories, not nutrient-dense foods," Martindale said.

Alcohol is a common source of empty calories. Drink alcohol in moderation, which means one drink for women and two drinks for men for the day, the dietitians suggest.

By preparing home-cooked meals, people can control the fat, salt and sugar content.

"The processed and packaged food is more expensive and doesn't go as far as buying fresh foods," Martindale said. "We encourage patients to buy whole foods and cook from scratch."

These registered dietitians try to teach basic cooking skills that save money while improving health. And while they work with referred patients, their advice applies to all.

"If you can make Rice-A-Roni from a box, you can certainly boil rice and beans," said Hall, noting that the home-cooked version will create more meals with less sodium.


For more nutrition information, visit the USDA website at


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