Although fast food restaurants such as McDonald's and Burger King are seen as the beacon of unhealthy dining options, researchers claim the menu items offered by sit-down restaurants don't support a well-rounded diet either.

A study conducted by Dr. Mary R. L'Abbe and fellow researchers from the University of Toronto, Canada probed the nutritional value of various breakfast, lunch, and dinner options featured at 19 chain sit-down restaurants in Canada.

"Overall, the results of this study demonstrate that calories, fat, saturated fat, and sodium levels are alarmingly high in breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals from multiple chain SDRs. Therefore, addressing the nutritional profile of restaurant meals should be a major public health priority," stated Dr. L'Abbe and her colleagues.

Establishments were chosen using the 2010 Directory of Restaurant and Fast Food Chains in Canada, and menus were gathered through each restaurant's company website. The entirety of the data included 3,507 variations of 685 meals and 156 desserts that were analyzed for calorie, fat, and sodium content, according to the percentage of the daily value (%DV).

The results of the study show that the average meal offered by a sit-down restaurant chain contains 1,128 calories, or 56 percent of the recommended 2,000 calorie daily average. Dining options also exceeded the daily amount of fat (58 grams) by 89 percent and saturated and trans fat (16 g of saturated fat and .6 g of trans fat) by 83 percent.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 600 mg of sodium is the "healthy level" for an average meal. This standard was only met by one percent of restaurant menu options.

The research team did, however, indicate that restaurant meals labeled as "healthy" on average featured a calorie count of 474, 13 grams of fat, three grams of saturated fat, and 752 mg of sodium.

These findings are an increasing area of concern, given that overconsumption of calories, fat, saturated fat, and sodium is a direct cause of high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

The entire study was published in the May 13 edition of the online journal JAMA Internal Medicine.