Scientists Expose the Least Healthy Foods at Chain Restaurants

August 19th 2016

Almie Rose

When you go out to eat, it's likely that you're going to to treat yourself — with calories and health criteria not being at the forefront of your mind. And it's fine to occasionally indulge.

But it's probably beneficial for you to know just how unhealthy some foods at these popular chain restaurants are, so you can be more informed.

That's the thought behind Center for Science in the Public Interest's (CSPI) annual "Xtreme Eating" list where they make a list of the most unhealthy restaurant dishes.

High Calorie Count is Only One Factor.

CSPI calculated not only the calories in each dish but also made note of the sodium, saturated fat, and sugar content in these unhealthy dishes.

An average, fairly-active woman needs approximately 1,500-2,000 calories give or take, while a fairly-active man needs approximately 2,000-2,500, according to Authority Nutrition.

But this all depends upon your initial weight and your height, so it's best to calculate this number for yourself.

That being said, here are some of CSPI's worst offenders from each popular chain restaurant.

The Cheesecake Factory.

Fried Chicken & Waffles Benedict:

This dish, which combines a "Belgian waffle topped with crispy fried chicken strips, poached eggs and hollandaise" also comes with "maple-butter syrup" and is 2,580 calories, which is more calories than most people seek for their entire day, not an entire meal.

You're also looking at 86 grams of saturated fat, 3,390 mg sodium (which is enough for two days), and about 15 teaspoons of sugar.

Dave & Buster's.

Short Rib & Cheesy Mac Stack:

macaroni and cheese sandwich

This sandwich is described in their menu as having "tender sliced short rib, creamy mac & cheese and bourbonglazed onions sandwiched between two thick slices of sourdough and grilled to buttery, golden-brown goodness," so at least you're well-prepared as to what you're getting in to, which is 1,910 calories, 42 grams of fat, and 3,390 mg of sodium.

For perspective that's like having "three McDonald’s Big Macs and a medium fries, plus an extra half day’s sat[urated] fat," according to CSPI.


Build Your Sampler/Appetizers:


A photo posted by Applebee's (@applebees) on

At Applebee's you can "build your own sampler" plate, in which you choose three to five appetizers. Let's say you choose five. Here's what you're getting. Reminder: these are what you would eat before you even eat your meal.

Cheeseburger Egg Rolls:


A photo posted by Applebee's (@applebees) on

"Ground beef, cheddar, onion, pickles, signature sauce" for 630 calories.

Brew Pub Pretzels & Beer Cheese Dip:


A photo posted by Applebee's (@applebees) on

"White cheddar craft beer cheese dip & honey dijon" for 510 calories.

Chicken Quesadilla


A simple chicken quesadilla of "chipotle-lime chicken, salsa verde, pico" clocks in at 610 calories.

Boneless Wings with Classic Buffalo Sauce:


A photo posted by Applebee's (@applebees) on

Classic buffalo wings here are 440 calories, plus 240 calories for the bleu cheese dressing.

Spinach & Artichoke Dip:


A photo posted by Applebee's (@applebees) on

Comes with tortilla chips and is a total of 960 calories with 14 grams of saturated fat and 3,980 mg of sodium.

All of these appetizers are 3,390 calories, 65 grams of saturated fat, and 11,650 milligrams of sodium — and all before your dinner arrives.

To see what the other food offenders are, go to CSPI's Xtreme Eating 2016 list.

[h/t Mental Floss]