Monday, October 12, 2015

The latest restaurant nutrition horror stories

The staff at the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest has just issued its latest Nutrition Action Healthletter. As always, one side of the two-sided letter is devoted to foods that are good for you, and the other side is more interesting.

On the breathless "10 Super Foods -- For Better Health!" listing, we see such items as salmon, broccoli, leafy greens, unsweetened Greek yogurt, garbanzo beans, butternut squash, mangoes, sweet potatoes, and watermelon, along with whole grain crispbreads.

On the flip side, chain operations' menu items and those of some major prepared foods manufacturers are on the bad list, labeled "We Name Names!" A few examples of restaurant no-no's:

Five Guys Burgers and Fries -- Its hamburger with no toppings checks in with 700 calories and a day's worth of saturated fat, 20 grams. Compare that to McDonald's much-maligned -- by some nutritionists and anti-chain types -- icon the Big Mac, which has 520 calories. Also, Five Guys' regular fries have 950 calories, 1,310 calories for a large size, while a large McDonald's fries has 500 calories.

Chipotle -- The popular chain offers a chicken burrito consisting of a tortilla, rice, pinto beans, cheese, chicken, sour cream, and salsa -- and with it comes 1,020 calories, 16 grams of saturated fat, and 2,400mg of sodium. However, if you order a Burrito Bowl or salad instead of the flour tortilla, the calorie count drops to a more manageable 500 to 700.

Olive Garden -- The chain's "Tour of Italy" consists of housemade lasagna, lightly breaded chicken parmagiana, and creamy fettucine alfredo. That provides 1,450 calories, 33 grams of saturated fat, and 3,8390mg of sodium. Add a single breadstick (140 calories, 370mg of sodium) and a plate of salad with dressing (150 calories, 760mg of sodium), and you will consume 1,740 calories plus three days' worth of sodium at 4,9609mg.

Uno Chicago Grill -- If you eat a single serving of the chain's Deep Dish Macaroni and 3-Cheese you will have consumed 1,980 calories (more than a whole day's worth), 71 grams of saturated fat (3½ days' worth), and 3,110mg of sodium (two days' worth). That, say the newsletter editors, "is like eating a Family Size box of Stouffer's Macaroni & Cheese (serves five) with a stick of butter on top."

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