The Best and Worst Menu Items at Red Lobster
Red Lobster is definitely a seafood lover's dream, as this popular chain restaurant fills your plate with classic seaside fare like buttery grilled shrimp and oven-roasted lobster tail when you sit down for dinner. However, while it's tempting to munch on calamari followed by some chocolate pie while dining here, you'll definitely want to scan this restaurant menu with caution, as some items contain an alarming amount of sodium, fat, and sugar.
To help you stay eat healthier when visiting Red Lobster, we spoke to BACH nutritionist, Meredith Price, MS, RD, CDN, about the best and worst appetizers, tasting plates, shrimp, and classic combo choices available on the menu. Below are some of the meal choices she recommends ordering next time you plan on feeding those seafood cravings.
Best: Seafood Stuffed Mushrooms
"This appetizer wins by default because the other options within this category are all very high in calories, sodium, and fat," Price says. These stuffed mushrooms are much lower in calories, she adds, and also have the added benefit of providing you with a vegetable, something most people can always use more of.
Worst: Peppercorn Panko Calamari
"This starter is a major sodium bomb, considering that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more than 2,500 milligrams of sodium over the course of an entire day," Price explains. Plus for an appetizer, it's very high in calories and fat, she adds.
Best: Manhattan Clam Chowder; Cup
Despite the extremely high sodium content of this cup of soup (let's face it—every single one of Red Lobster's soups are around this high), Price suggests that this item is fairly low in calories and fat, which is why it comes out on top for the soup options. "Just make sure to drink a lot of water with it since it's so salty," she advises.
Worst: Creamy Potato Bacon; Cup
"This soup is the poorest choice in the category due to its high-fat content, especially considering how much saturated fat it has," Price explains. You'd be consuming more than half of the recommended saturated fat for the day just from this small cup of soup!
Best: Tuna Poke
"This dish provides a nice lean source of protein, and though we're sticking with the running theme of how high everything is in sodium at this restaurant, this item is much lower than the other options in this category," Price says.
Worst: Dragon Broccoli
This tasting plate has the highest amount of sodium in the category. Price notes that this dish is overall pretty deceiving, because it seems like it should be the healthiest option, as the main ingredient is a vegetable. Don't let that fool you!
Shrimp & Classic Combos
Best: Wood-Grilled Shrimp
"I would have thought this dish was higher in saturated fat because it's described to be brushed with a butter glaze, but it's relatively low in it," Price says. However, she notes that the amount of sodium is astronomical in this dish, making it important to avoid it if you already have hypertension or are at risk of it.
Worst: Seaside Shrimp Trio
High in calories, high in fat, and seriously high in saturated fat (it's at 80 percent of daily intake recommendations), Price suggests that this is a major dish to avoid. You get 169 percent of your upper daily sodium recommendation from what seems like one innocent meal.
Best: Southwest Style Tacos With Tilapia
This dish provides you with a nice fruit and veggie combo of corn and avocado, and eight grams of fiber, which are all wins according to Price. "Be sure to choose the tilapia option as it's the lowest in sodium," she adds.
Worst: Yucatan Tilapia and Shrimp
"This dish is a combination of so many things that are detrimental to heart health," Price says. Not only does it contain 105 percent of saturated fat recommendations, but it also has one gram of trans fat and almost 3,000 milligrams of sodium.
Bakes & Combos-Lobster
Best: Live Maine Lobster;1 1/4 lb. Steamed
"This dish is far lower in calories and sodium than most options on the Red Lobster menu," Price suggests. Though it's high in saturated fat (105 percent of daily recommendations), you have the option to serve this dish with sides such as heart-healthy veggies and whole grains, which is a way to make the most of out of this meal, especially because the main dish has zero grams of carbohydrates.
Worst: Ultimate Feast
"You're definitely getting the ultimate dish for stress to your heart health and blood pressure with the amount of saturated fat and sodium that this dish provides," Price explains.
Bakes & Combos-Crab & Seafood Bakes
Best: Crab Linguini Alfredo; Half
"This one surprised me because I would have assumed it was going to be the worst since it's covered in a cheese sauce," Price suggests. However, she explains that this dish is actually the best choice in the category because of its lower calorie, sodium, and saturated fat content.
Worst: Bar Harbor Lobster Bake
Price explains you're getting an enormous amount of calories, sodium, and carbohydrates from this dish. She notes that overall, it's pretty high in total and saturated fat as well, making it the dish to avoid in this category.
Best: Canadian Walleye Fried;Half
Although this item is fried, Price explains that it is relatively low in calories and fat. To make this order even healthier, she recommends ordering it blackened or boiled instead.
Worst: Wild Caught Flounder; Golden Fried
"This item is much higher in calories and sodium than the Walleye option," Price says. However, she notes that the only saving grace about this dish is that you can choose a vegetable as a side.
Land & Sea
Best: Maple-Glazed Chicken Dinner
Price says that this is a solid low-fat balanced meal, especially when you choose a vegetable side such as seasoned fresh broccoli. "The broccoli will only add 40 calories and 270 milligrams of sodium to this dish," she says.
Worst: Cajun Chicken Linguini Alfredo; Full Portion
"This dish is extremely high in calories, saturated fat, and sodium," Price explains. However, she suggests that this meal has a relatively high amount of fiber, though it is unclear where it comes from because there are no vegetables or whole grains. Best to stay away from this one, even with its mystery fiber boost.
Best: Key Lime Pie
"This is the lowest calorie, fat, sodium, and carbohydrate option for the dessert category at Red Lobster," Price says. Plus, it sounds light, which is something that your body might be craving after a heavy meal, she suggests.
Worst: Chocolate Wave
As decadent and delicious as this dessert sounds, Price wants you to know that it's just extremely unhealthy. "At 1,110 calories, this might be more than half of your needs for the entire day," she says. And if you're having this right after dinner, well, that's just a lot.
Best: Shrimp and Wood-Grilled Chicken-Shrimp Skewer
"This dish is low-calorie with a lean protein that you can choose a healthy side with," Price explains. That way, you can make it a balanced meal that you won't feel sluggish after eating.
Best: Sailor's Platter
"This dish has a nice variety of shrimp and flounder and is low in fat and calories," Price says.
Worst: Petite Chilled Lobster-and-Shrimp Roll With Fries
Price explains that this item has a lot of calories, fat, and sodium, thanks to two buttered buns and a side of fries.
Best: Kids Broiled Tilapia
"There are lower calorie options on the kid's menu, but I chose this one because it will be more satisfying if your child is willing to eat it," Price says. She recommends pairing it with a vegetable side and some rice for a balanced meal.
Best: Kids Garlic Grilled Shrimp Skewer
If you want to expose your child to new seafood and flavors they might not be used to, Price feels that this dish is the one to order for an adventurous eater. "It's small in size and is low in calories and fat," she says.
Worst: Kids Chicken Fingers
"This dish is way too high in calories, fat, and sodium for a child," Price explains. Even teenagers should not have more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium in an entire day, and this dish is only ten milligrams away from hitting that max, so it's not one you want to put in front of the kids in your life.
Worst: Kids Golden Fried Fish
There seems to be a theme with these fried kids' choices: avoid them at all costs. "This dish is high in calories, fat, and sodium," Price explains. This is much more sodium than a child should have in a day!