Food News

Fat, Sodium, Calories: Ten Dense Dishes

You see them on TV, you drive past them on the way home -- chain restaurants that offer food, fun, and convenience.

We know it's difficult to ignore their siren songs of cheap food and menus that weigh more than a toddler.

To make your food more appealing and tasty, many chain restaurants pump your food with high levels of sodium and fat. Most meals at these restaurants contain the daily limits of an adult's intake of sodium and fat, and some meals contain several days' allowance. The result is that many adults are eating their way to obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

U.S. dietary guidelines vary based on age, sex, body type, etc., but the suggested average caloric intake is 2,500 for men and 2,200 for women. Fat intake should amount to 20 to 35 percent of those calories, so that's between 65 and 91 grams of fat daily. According to the CDC, 2,400 mg (about a teaspoon) of sodium is the maximum daily intake for people under 40. If you're over 40, you should have only 1,500 mg of sodium daily.

Here's how we put together this list. First, the restaurant has to be a national chain with locations in South Florida that's not considered "fast food." Then, we looked only at their official websites, not second-party sources, for the nutritional guidelines.

We then chose the most offensive product on their menu based on calories, fat, sodium, and carbohydrate count that they were most "famous" for (example -- we chose a cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory, steak at Outback, and breakfast at IHOP and Denny's). We then counted down to the most decadent meal we could find.

We know that every restaurant on this list has healthier options, but many people don't realize that a dish as innocent-looking as Teriyaki steak or fajitas loaded with veggies might be laden with sodium. Here's what we found:

10. P.F. Chang's VIP Duck - 650 calories, 29 grams fat, 1,580 milligrams sodium, 55 grams carbs.

9. Denny's Heartland Scramble - 1,160 calories, 63 grams fat, 2,930 milligrams sodium, 110 grams carbs.

8. Outback Steakhouse Teriyaki Filet Medallions - 689 calories, 30 grams fat, 3,863 milligrams sodium, 65 grams carbs.

7. Cheesecake Factory Adam's Peanut Butter Fudge Ripple Cheesecake - 1,330 calories, 40 grams saturated fat, 700 milligrams sodium, 136 grams carbs.

6. Red Lobster Crispy Calamari -  1,520 calories, 97 grams fat, 3,050 milligrams sodium, 115 grams carbs.

5. IHop Country Chicken Fried Steak & Eggs -  1,680 calories, 95 grams fat, 4,050 milligrams sodium, 145 grams carbs.

4. Olive Garden Tour of Italy - 1,450 calories, 74 grams fat, 3,830 milligrams sodium, 97 grams carbs.

3. Applebee's Sizzling Skillet Fajitas - 1,410 calories, 55 grams fat, 5,630 milligrams sodium, 152 grams carbs.

2. T.G.I. Friday's Ale-House Baby Back Ribs - 1,350 calories, 23 grams saturated fat, 6,060 milligrams sodium, 77 grams carbs.

1. Chili's Shiner Bock BBQ Ribs - 2,310 calories, 123 grams fat, 6,340 milligrams sodium, 134 grams carbs.

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Laine Doss is the food and spirits editor for Miami New Times, covering the restaurant and bar scene in South Florida. She has been featured on Cooking Channel’s Eat Street and Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race. Doss won an Alternative Weekly award for her feature on what it’s like to wait tables. In a previous life, she appeared off-Broadway and shook many a cocktail as a bartender at venues in South Florida and New York City. When she’s not writing, you can find Doss running some marathon then celebrating at the nearest watering hole.
Contact: Laine Doss