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The #1 Healthiest Dessert at the Cheesecake Factory, Dietitian Says

Still, this expert says, "The effect on your system is a blow." Plus, a great tip for healthier dessert-ing.
Cheesecake Factory

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

Courtesy of The Cheesecake Factory
580 cal, 44g fat (26g saturated fat), 460mg, 39g carbohydrates, 8g fiber, 10g protein

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

cheesecake factory original
Courtesy of The Cheesecake Factory
830 calories, 59g fat (37g saturated fat), 510mg sodium, 63g carbohydrates (15 tsp of sugar), 1g fiber, 12g protein

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.

RELATED: The Surprising Effect Reducing Sodium May Have on Your Blood Sugar, New Study Says

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 oreo dreams extreme
Courtesy of The Cheesecake Factory
1,600 calories, 98g fat (56g saturated fat), 790mg sodium, 178g carbohydrates (7g fiber), 16g protein

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.

RELATED: 4 Major Menu Changes You'll See At the Cheesecake Factory

Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake

cheesecake factory ultimate red velvet
Courtesy of The Cheesecake Factory
1,580 calories, 116g fat (62g saturated fat), 630mg sodium, 125g carbohydrates, 1g fiber and 14g protein

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."

RELATED: Popular Foods That Lead to Body Fat, Say Experts

The actual healthiest dessert at Cheesecake Factory might be…

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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!

For more healthy living news, keep reading:

Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more