Don’t let the economic downturn compromise your long-term health! Today, nonprofit The Cancer Project released a study naming the five “value menu” items to avoid at fast food joints (via latimes.com).

Top of the list: Jack in the Box’s Junior Bacon Cheeseburger, which gives you 23 grams of fat (8 saturated fat, 1 trans fat), 55 milligrams of cholesterol, and 860 milligram of sodium. On the plus side, the $1 item does have some fiber — a whole gram of it. The other top 4 items are Taco Bell’s Cheesy Double Beef Burrito, Burger King’s Breakfast Sausage Biscuit, McDonald’s McDouble, and Wendy’s Junior Bacon Cheeseburger.

All of them cost $1.53 or less — but as many eco-foodie writers point out, that low price won’t cover the health care costs resulting from an unhealthy diet. According to The Cancer Project, “The high-fat, high-cholesterol items that dominate Value Menus can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer.”

The Cancer Project does suggest a few cheap fast food items that’re healthier — then points out that making the food yourself can be even healthier — and quite cheap too. The example: A pinto bean, rice, and salsa tortilla wrap that costs $1.22 a serving.

My tip: If you buy the beans and rice in bulk and cook them yourself, you may even be able to bring the price down to about a dollar. Also, the price of tortillas and salsa quoted by The Cancer Project ($2.99 and $3.89, respectively) seem a tad high to me. Even the organic versions of these items can be had for less at Trader Joes.

Photo: basykes