The #1 Healthiest Dessert at the Cheesecake Factory, Dietitian Says
The name "Cheesecake Factory" suggests pure decadence. Fans know that holds true for the chain's famously diverse menu of entrées and small plates, as well as for the roughly three dozen cheesecakes on the chain's dessert menu. And, as the name also nods to, a lot of Cheesecake Factory guests don't feel the dining experience is complete without a slice of cheesecake (total indulgence!) before the bill comes.
But if you think Cheesecake Factory's desserts are just a sweet, harmless treat, a diet expert says they come with a serious warning. Karen Graham, RD, CDE is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator in Canada who is also the author of three books on diabetes. Upon analyzing Cheesecake Factory's nutrition facts, right off the bat Graham raises a red flag. "It is incorrect to call any of the cheesecakes healthy," she says. "They are on a continuum of bad to worst in terms of how they'll block your blood vessels and raise your blood pressure and blood sugar." Ever heard it put quite that way? Yikes.
"Considering that the cheesecake may be eaten in addition to calorie-sugar-fat loaded beverages or a full meal, the effect on your system is an even greater blow," Graham says. "Eat only at your own risk!"
So, from this dietitian's perspective, exactly how do the Cheesecake Factory's cakes stack up? She lists the less harmful and the absolute worst… and delivers a key recommendation for selecting any dessert, anywhere. Keep reading, and then you might feel inspired to check out 40 Things Cardiologists Do to Protect Their Hearts.
The Low-Licious Cheesecake
Graham explains that the Low-Licious Cheesecake is the "least unhealthy" cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory. "However, this is relative," she says, "as it still has 580 calories and the equivalent of nine teaspoons (three tablespoons) of sugar in carbohydrates and nine teaspoons (3 tablespoons) of fat—60% of which is the unhealthy saturated fat." Even Cheesecake Factory's "healthiest" cheesecake heightens your risk of heart disease.
Cheesecake Factory Original Cheesecake
Graham calls Cheesecake Factory's Original Cheesecake "one other least unhealthiest option"—however, at 830 calories, Graham suggests it contains the calories of an entire meal. "The Original has 830 calories and the equivalent of 15 teaspoons (5 tablespoons) of sugar in carbs and 12 teaspoons (4 tablespoons) of fat, 63% of which is the unhealthy saturated fat," Graham explains.
The two worst cheesecakes at the Cheesecake Factory
About these next two cheesecake choices, Graham wants to make it clear: "I would describe these as an out-of-control train slamming into your arteries and gut. It's almost unimaginable that so much can be crammed into a piece of cheesecake."
Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake
Cheesecake Factory's Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake has "a whopping 1,600 calories," Graham says. "But get this: It has the equivalent of 42-1/2 teaspoons of sugar, which equals 7/8 of a cup. Then it has 20 teaspoons of fat, which is equal to almost seven tablespoons, or over one-third of a cup." To put it in perspective? "Yup: Imagine cutting off a one-third cup of butter—that is the portion of fat in this serving of cheesecake," with 60% as saturated fat. Another red flag about Cheesecake Factory's Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake? "There is 790 milligrams of sodium, over 30% of your daily recommended limit," Graham says.
Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake
Graham says at 1,580 calories, Cheesecake Factory's Ultimate Red Velvet Cheesecake weighs in at a very similar level to the Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake. She explains: "It has the equivalent of 30 teaspoons of sugar, which equals 10 tablespoons. Then it has 23 teaspoons of fat, which is equal to almost eight tablespoons of butter. Imagine cutting off a half-cup slab of butter: That is the portion of fat in this serving of cheesecake. And about 50% of this fat is the unhealthy kind."
The actual healthiest dessert at Cheesecake Factory might be…
Graham considers a light dessert to have 250 calories or less. (That could be a simple rule for all of us!) One dessert on Cheesecake Factory's menu hits that calorie target right on: The bowl of fresh strawberries.
However, you might also consider saving a few dollars to serve up your own healthy berry dessert at home, or for breakfast the next morning to help balance out the evening's Cheesecake Factory dinner!
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