20 Saltiest Restaurant Meals On The Planet
By Christina Stiehl
Some of your favorite restaurant menu items could be packing enough sodium to last you three days or more.
Even if you are counting calories, cutting back on sugar, and diligently tracking your fat grams, there’s one item on the nutrition panel that you might be ignoring: sodium. And while you may not think sodium has as much of an impact on your health as calories and sugar do, think again.
The typical American adult eats enough salt a day to damage his or her heart, according to research published in the journal American College of Cardiology. University of Pennsylvania researchers found that half of the study participants consumed at least 3,730 milligrams of sodium a day—the equivalent of more than 1.5 teaspoons of salt, and 1,430 more milligrams than the FDA-recommended max of 2,300 milligrams. It’s also double what the FDA recommends for people with high blood pressure or who are middle aged, which is just 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day.
Those who ate that much sodium were twice as likely to have signs of muscle strain in the heart and have an enlarged left chamber of the heart, which controls pumping oxygen-rich blood into the body. “This study enhances our understanding of the adverse effects of salt intake on heart function,” lead researcher Senthil Selvaraj, MD, told Reuters. Yet another reason why high-sodium foods find themselves on our list of 30 Worst Foods For Your Heart.
Although 3,730 milligrams seems like a lot, it’s an easy number to achieve if you are going out to eat and not paying attention to the nutrition information. In fact, all of these dishes from popular restaurant chains have more than 4,000 milligrams of sodium—that’s nearly twice your recommended daily amount. Even if some of the menu items sound healthy, they’re filled with enough heart-stopping salt to leave you feeling bloated and sluggish, not to mention thirsty. And while you’re watching your sodium intake, be sure to avoid The #1 Worst Menu Option at 41 Popular Restaurants.
Red Robin Clucks & Fries Buffalo Style
1,630 calories, 114 g fat (28 g saturated fat), 4,070 mg sodium, 103 g carbs (18 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 48 g protein
Chicken fingers and french fries is already a fattening combo, so it’s no surprise this entree from Red Robin clocks in at more than 100 grams of fat (!!!) and about as many calories as you should have in a day. But it’s a sodium bomb too with 4,070 grams—that’s more than 20 salt packets from McDonald’s.
On the Border Three Sauce Fajita Burrito
Courtesy of Yelp/Jen L.
840 calories, 36 g fat (16 g saturated fat), 4,100 mg sodium, 69 g carbs (4 g fiber, n/a g sugar), 62 g protein
With such a large tortilla and a selection of salty sauces, it’s no wonder this burrito has a whopping 4,100 mg sodium. And that’s just for the burrito itself; the number goes up an additional 1,000 mg if you add beans and rice on the side.
Quiznos Classic Italian 12-inch Sandwich
1,410 calories, 78 g fat (25 g saturated fat), 4,150 mg sodium, 117 g carbs (6 g fiber, 17 g sugar), 60 g protein
This Italian sandwich is like a combo of the saltiest (and fattiest) deli meats available: capicola, salami, ham, and pepperoni. Add to that some olives and a vinaigrette dressing and you’ve got yourself over 4,000 grams of belly-busting sodium. Their Italian meatball sandwich isn’t much better; at 81 grams of fat and 3,580 milligrams of sodium, it made it onto our list of The Worst Sandwiches in America.
Friendly’s Loaded Waffle Fries
1,300-1,500 calories, 100 g fat (30 g saturated fat), 4,410 mg sodium, 90 g carbs (10 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 40 g protein
As if fries weren’t salty enough, Friendly’s douses theirs with cheddar cheese, bacon, and sour cream. This is one menu item that’s not very friendly for your waistline (or blood pressure).
On The Border Firecracker Stuffed Jalapenos with Queso
Courtesy of Yelp/Samantha M.
920 calories, 61 g fat (34 g saturated fat, 4,180 mg sodium, 48 g carbs (14 g fiber, n/a sugar), 43 g protein
These jalapeno poppers should be called “firecracker” because of how much they’ll make your waist explode. In addition to packing more than 150 percent of your day’s worth of saturated fat, these stuffed jalapenos have more sodium than 22 packets of salt.
Yard House Gardein Jerk Wings
1,280 calories, 59 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 4,460 mg sodium, 129 g carbs (8 g fiber, 54 g sugar), 48 g protein
Yard House makes a vegan-friendly chicken substitute called Gardein that’s made from soy, wheat, pea protein, vegetables, and grains. The restaurant has about a dozen menu items featuring this meat alternative, including BBQ “chicken” pizza and orange “chicken.” But the biggest sodium bomb is the plate of Jerk Wings which have not only nearly 4,500 milligrams of salt, but also 59 grams of fat.
Applebee’s New England Fish & Chips/Hand Battered Fish Fry
1,990 calories, 137 g fat (24 g saturated fat), 4,540 mg sodium, 134 g carbs (10 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 55 g protein
“Fish and chips” is just a fancier term for “deep fried fish and french fries.” Not only will this entree set you back nearly 2,000 calories, but you’ll be downing more than 4,500 milligrams of sodium.
Red Lobster Crispy Calamari and Vegetables
1,770 calories, 122 g fat (12 g saturated fat), 4,570 mg sodium, 128 g carbs (8 g fiber, 19 g sugar), 31 g protein
Don’t be fooled by the word “vegetable;” this appetizer has about as many calories as you should eat in a day, and a whopping 4,570 milligrams of sodium—a dangerous amount if you’ll be downing it before your entree even arrives.
Cheesecake Factory Sunrise Fiesta Burrito
1,720 calories, 4,600 mg sodium, 128 g carbs (all other nutritionals not available)
The Cheesecake Factory is known for not being exactly transparent with their nutrition information, which is why we could only find the calories, sodium, and carbs in a few of their items. That being said, 4,600 milligrams is a shocking amount for this burrito, as is 128 grams of carbs.
Romano’s Macaroni Grill Classic Italian Bake
1,550 calories, 117 g fat (42 g saturated fat), 4,620 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (8 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 78 g protein
With so much salty sausage, cheese, and sauce in this recipe, there’s no wonder it’s twice your daily intake of saturated fat and more than 4,620 milligrams of sodium. Swap it out for the grilled steak and potatoes to save over 3,000 milligrams of sodium and 1,000 calories.
Pei Wei Asian Diner Caramel Regular With Chicken
Courtesy of Yelp/Nicholas B.
1,040 calories, 48 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 4,670 mg sodium, 102 g carbs (5 g fiber, 75 g sugar) 47 g protein
Even though this chicken dish has some veggies thrown in, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. After this chicken is tossed in a salty sauce, it’s served on top of a bed of fried rice making it a shocking 1,040 calories and 4,670 milligrams of sodium.
Maggiano’s Gnochhi & Italian Sausage
1,530 calories, 96 g fat (48 g saturated fat), 4,860 mg sodium, 97 g carbs (7 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 58 g protein
You already know pasta is carb heavy, which is why the nearly 100 grams of carbs for this gnocchi shouldn’t be a huge shock. But the added salty Italian sausage brings this dish up to nearly 5,000 milligrams of sodium—that's more than two day's worth.
Hooters DD Burger
1,690 calories, 94 g fat (37 g saturated fat), 4,960 mg sodium, 111 g carbs (10 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 93 g protein
It’s surprising the saltiest thing at Hooters isn’t their famous chicken wings, rather their DD burger. Hooters manages to pack nearly 5,000 milligrams of sodium in this double-meat sandwich.
Applebee’s Salsa Verde Beef Nachos
1,750 calories, 117 g fat (50 g saturated fat), 6,050 mg sodium, 107 g carbs (8 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 70 g protein
If you order Applebee’s Salsa Verde Beef Nachos as an app, you’re ingesting over 6,000 milligrams of sodium before your entree even arrives. That’s nearly three days’ worth of sodium and more than an entire day’s worth of calories. Looking for something better to nosh on? Check out our picks of Healthy Meals at Applebee’s.
Chili’s Crispy Fiery Pepper Crispers
Courtesy of Yelp/Joseph P.
1,800 calories, 91 g fat (15 g saturated fat), 6,240 mg sodium, 180 g carbs (13 g fiber, 63 g sugar), 58 g protein
The word “crispy” should already be a red flag since it’s just code for deep fried. If the 1,800 calories and 91 grams of fat aren’t enough to scare you away, then the over 6,000 milligrams of sodium certainly should.
PF Chang’s Salt and Pepper Calamari
Courtesy of Yelp/Nami N.
750 calories, 40 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 6,400 mg sodium, 72 g carbs (2 g fiber, 24 g sugar), 26 g protein
Calamari is almost always a sodium bomb, especially this dish from PF Chang’s. It manages to pack 6,400 milligrams of blood pressure-raising sodium in just 750 calories!
Carrabba’s Italian Grill Spaghetti With Sausage With Whole Gluten Free Pasta
1,080 calories, 36 g fat (12 g saturated fat), 6,430 mg sodium, 157 g carbs (18 g fiber, 19 g sugar), 43 g protein
Don’t let the “gluten-free” descriptor fool you; at more than 1,080 calories and a shocking 6,430 milligrams of sodium, this pasta dish from Carrabba’s is anything but healthy. Even if you’re gluten-sensitive, you should probably pick something else on the menu.
Bonefish Grill Ahi Tuna Poke
540 calories, 30 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 6,700 mg sodium, 43 g carbs (5 g fiber, 11 g sugar), 26 g protein
The ahi tuna poke appetizer from Bonefish Grill may sound healthy, and it even looks healthy. And at first glance, it’s not terrible: 540 calories, 30 grams of fat, 26 grams of protein. Then you get to the sodium shocker—6,700 milligrams! That’s nearly three days worth of sodium in an appetizer alone.
Buffalo Wild Wings Large Spicy Garlic Boneless Wings
1,630 calories, 89 g fat (31 g saturated fat), 7,620 mg sodium, 130 g carbs (12 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 77 g protein
It’s no surprise that the fried wings at B-Dubs are fattening and caloric, but some of the sauces make them total sodium shockers. The spicy garlic boneless wings pack a shocking 7,620 milligrams of sodium—that’s the equivalent of 4 bags of Lay’s family-sized potato chips!
And the #1 Saltiest Restaurant Meal on the Planet is...
PF Chang’s Hot & Sour Soup Bowl
Courtesy of Yelp/Sky Y.
460 calories, 13 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 9,590 mg sodium, 58 g carbs (5 g fiber, 15 g sugar), 27 g protein
Soup is usually a good alternative when you are trying to eat healthier. At less than 500 calories and just 13 grams of fat, you would think the hot and sour soup bowl from PF Chang’s would be healthy. But there are nearly 10,000 (!!!) milligrams of sodium in just one bowl of soup. That’s as much as 39 salt packets or 44 individual bags of Doritos Cool Ranch tortilla chips! And their frozen foods aren’t much better; PF Chang’s frozen orange chicken made it on our list of The 67 Worst Frozen Foods in America.
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