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The #1 Unhealthiest Olive Garden Order, According to a Dietitian

You may want to stick to the Soup & Salad combo and avoid this dish when you can.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

When it comes to restaurants that deliver comfort, warmth, and hearty options, few chains satisfy your cravings like Olive Garden. This Italian-American eatery offers beloved classics that have become synonymous with the brand's identity—dishes like creamy Chicken Alfredo, the cheesy Ziti al Forno, and the indulgent Lasagna Classico. However, while these culinary favorites have earned a special place in the hearts (and stomachs) of many, their popularity may come at a nutritional cost.

While there are some healthy options on the Olive Garden menu, unfortunately, most of the items are laden with calories, fat, and sodium, which is to be expected with many chain restaurant meals. But if you're the type who likes to stick to somewhat healthier options when you're eating out, you may be curious to know more about which popular menu items you should steer clear of the next time it's pasta night.

We wanted to take a closer look at some of the items that would be considered the "unhealthiest" on the Olive Garden menu, so we talked with Mary Sabat MS, RDN, LD to get her take. She searched through the menu and compared the nutrition information provided to select what she believes is the unhealthiest order at Olive Garden.

Read on, then check out the 8 Healthiest Olive Garden Menu Items before your next visit.

The worst order at Olive Garden is…the Chicken Tortelloni Alfredo

Olive Garden Chicken Tortelloni
Olive Garden

"Overall, the Chicken Tortelloni Alfredo is the worst choice due to its excessive calories, saturated fat, sodium, and lack of nutritional balance," Sabat tells us.

The Chicken Tortelloni Alfredo is one of Olive Garden's classic dinner entrées and is made with asiago cheese-stuffed tortelloni, alfredo sauce, chicken, Italian cheese blend, and breadcrumbs sprinkled on top.

There's no arguing that this dinner dish is a rich, decadent comfort food, but it is loaded with calories, total fat, saturated fat, and sodium, which is why Sabat says it's one of the worst items you can order from the menu.

The Chicken Tortelloni Alfredo is packed with:

  • Calories: 1,980
  • Fat: 131 grams
  • Saturated fat: 76 grams
  • Trans fat: 2.5 grams
  • Sodium: 3,720 milligrams
  • Carbs: 95 grams
  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Sugar: 9 grams
  • Protein: 112 grams

Sabat points out "With a whopping 1,980 calories, this meal contributes significantly to your daily caloric intake, making it challenging for individuals to maintain a balanced diet." The amount of calories that an individual needs throughout the day vary by person, but an average recommendation is around 2,000 calories per day—the amount you'd get with this meal alone.

 8 Healthiest Dishes To Order at Olive Garden

Beyond a high-calorie count, this dish also serves up 131 grams of fat, of which 76 come from saturated fat and 2.5 come from trans fat, "which can increase the risk of heart disease and other health issues when consumed in excess," says Sabat. The American Heart Association recommends aiming for 13 grams or less of saturated fat per day for a healthy heart, and this meal is almost six times that, and the World Health Organization suggests consuming no more than 2.2 grams (but zero is best) of trans fat a day, which this meal exceeds.

As if that weren't enough, Sabat also points out that the 3,729 milligrams of sodium "is well above the recommended daily limit, potentially leading to high blood pressure and water retention."

And finally, even though you're getting over 100 grams of protein, "The low fiber content of only 5 grams is a concern because it doesn't provide the necessary dietary fiber for digestive health and can leave you feeling unsatisfied," says Sabat.

 20 Best High-Protein, Low-Calorie Foods

At the end of the day, you don't have to fear this meal and avoid it forever if it's one of your favorites, but the evidence still points to this dinner being one of the unhealthiest Olive Garden menu items.

Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha
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