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Best & Worst Pasta at Olive Garden

Land of bottomless breadsticks, kingdom of carbs, Olive Garden can test the good intentions of any conscientious diner.

And the menu can be a bit tricky; certain options aren't as light as they sound (and vice versa; read on). Although the chain offers a number of lighter, pasta-free meals, that can feel like denying the real reason you came: Sometimes only noodles will hit the spot. The good news is that you can treat yourself wisely, following these guidelines.

Eat This

Cucina Mia! Spaghetti With Traditional Meat Sauce

Calories 620
Fat 21.5 g
Saturated Fat 7.5 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Sodium 1,075 mg
Carbs 80 g

Not That!

Chicken & Shrimp Carbonara

Calories 1,570
Fat 113 g
Saturated Fat 62 g
Trans Fat 2 g
Sodium 2,460 mg
Carbs 73 g

Olive Garden's answer to surf 'n' turf, the Chicken & Shrimp Carbonara, can be a hurricane-force blow to your waistline. Despite a name that promises high protein, it contains as much total fat as three big Macs—and as much saturated fat as you should consume in five days! Choose the restaurant's Cucina Mia! build-your-own-pasta-bowl option, which allows you to pair a pasta with a sauce, and toppings if you wish. Good ol' spaghetti with traditional meat sauce is the leanest pasta on the entire menu. (Believe it or not, meat sauce is the leanest of the five sauce options—even benign-sounding Garlic With White Wine has 140 more calories and twice the fat.) And if you're cooking at home, be sure to use our tricks to lighten up your dinner to enjoy healthy pasta and still lose weight.

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