What are the Unhealthiest Restaurant Meals in America?
Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite and has been brought back by popular demand. It was originally published on August 2, 2011. Enjoy!
I can feel my arteries hardening just looking at this list.
The Center for Science In The Public Interest recently released their lists for the Unhealthiest Restaurant Meals in America. These meals are notable not just for their calorie count, but also their portion size and their sugar, sodium and fat content. And they’re at some of the most popular chains in America.
The Big “Winner”: The Cheesecake Factory, that not only topped the list with its Cheesecake Factory Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake (portion size: approximately 3/4 of a pound; calories: 1,540; saturated fat: 59 grams — three days’ worth), but also had a second entry on the list: their Farmhouse Cheeseburger.
The Cheesecake Factory’s Farmhouse Cheeseburger is not only a cheeseburger like the one above — the bane of dieters everywhere — it is also topped with “grilled smoked pork belly,” mayonnaise and — get this — a fried egg. This heart-attack-inducing concoction carries a whopping 1,530 calories, 36 grams of saturated fat, and 3,210 milligrams of sodium – a day and a half of recommended sodium intake for most people, and three days’ worth for someone with high blood pressure.
Don’t worry, though: you don’t have to go to the Cheesecake Factory to get one of these winning meals. You could always head to Applebees and take in a plate of Provolone Stuffed Meatballs with Fettuccine. The 1,520 calories, 43 grams of saturated fat and 3,700 milligrams of sodium (1.5 full teaspoons of salt!) should leave you feeling ready to run a marathon afterwards.
If pasta isn’t your thing, then head to Denny’s for a Fried Cheese Melt: breaded Mozzarella sticks in between two slices of white bread, fried on the grill. And served with french fries. At 1,260 calories, it’s practically “light” compared to the other items on the list, but the 21 grams of saturated fat and 3,000 milligrams of sodium keep it firmly in the “horrific” category.
With a tagline of “America’s Premier Cheesteak”, you wouldn’t expect to find a whole lot of low-fat options on the menu at Great Steak. But even they have outdone expectations with their King Fries. A nice, hot bowl of french fries topped with Philly [Cheese] Whiz, chopped bacon, sour cream – and chives! For health! An extra-large one of these bad boys sets you back 1,500 calories, 4,980 mg of sodium (imagine that in a cup. A big cup.) and 33 grams of saturated fat.† It’s comparable to a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder – or, actually, three – but only if you add salt.
A Porterhouse steak like the one above isn’t enough on its own to make the list. But if it’s a Morton’s Porterhouse, it’s 24 ounces of beef *before* cooking. On average, they contain 1,390 calories and 36 grams of fat, with a low-ish (for this list, anyway) 1,200 mg of sodium. But then, you don’t just eat the steak on its own.. you add mashed potatoes or creamed spinach to chuck in a few hundred more calories, a dozen or so grams of fat and several hundred more mg of sodium.† Yum?
Got room for dessert, after all that? Head for the Cold Stone Creamery. After one of these enormous meals, you’ll totally have room for a Founder’s Favourite Signature Creation – Ice cream, pecans, brownie, fudge AND caramel sauce. Put that bad boy in a waffle bowl and oh, go ahead, make it a chocolate dipped one, why not? It’s only 1,590 calories and 42 grams of saturated fat. Practically diet!
Compare the calorie/fat/sodium content of these foods with the recommended dietary guidelines from the Mayo Clinic, and you can see why North America has an obesity epidemic. Our taste for fried foods, salt and sugar is putting many of us into early graves.
You can view the entire list of dishonorees (PDF file download) here.