We analyzed the menus of America's largest restaurant chains and found the five most calorie-laden salads.
When you order a salad at a restaurant, you probably expect it to be healthful. But Money Talks News has found that is not always the case.
We analyzed the menus of the casual and family restaurants that rank among America’s 50 largest restaurant chains to identify the five of the worst salads based on calorie count.
The results were eye-opening — and waistline-expanding.
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that a menu item named “Quesadilla Explosion Salad” contains more than a half-day’s worth of calories for most people. That salad, found on the Chili’s menu, clocks in at 1,430 calories.
Now, what about a more civilized-sounding Caesar salad with chicken? At the Cheesecake Factory, this choice also contains more than a half-day’s worth of calories for most people — around 1,500.
To put that in perspective, adults should consume 1,600 to 3,200 calories in an entire day, depending on their height, age, gender and activity level, according to the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.
Calories were just the first stop in our analysis. We also looked at sodium count and calories from fat. As it turns out, those numbers often surpass what anyone should consume in an entire day.
The average person should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, and no more than 10 percent of their calories should come from fat, according to the USDA. That translates to no more than 160 to 320 calories from fat per day.
Keep in mind that these salads vary in size, which may at least partially account for why some salads have more fat, sodium and calories than others. Additionally, some restaurant menus note that nutritional information can vary slightly from one restaurant location to another.
With that in mind, here are our picks for the five worst restaurant salads for your waistline:
1. Cheesecake Factory’s Caesar Salad With Chicken
- Calories: 1,510
- Calories from fat: N/A (The Cheesecake Factory does not provide all its nutrition information online. Money Talks News requested additional information from the company but did not receive it.)
- Sodium: 1,450 milligrams
- More nutrition info: cheesecakefactorynutrition.com
2. Chili’s Quesadilla Explosion Salad
- Calories: 1,430
- Calories from fat: 860
- Sodium: 2,420 mg
- More nutrition info: chilis.com
3. Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad
- Calories: 1,420
- Calories from fat: 900
- Sodium: 1,530 mg
- More nutrition info: applebees.com
4. Buffalo Wild Wings’ Mediterranean Salad
- Calories: 1,380
- Calories from fat: 940
- Sodium: 2,400 mg
- More nutrition info: buffalowildwings.com
5. IHOP’s Chicken and Spinach Salad With Crispy Chicken
- Calories: 1,340
- Fat: 770
- Sodium: 2,690 mg
- More nutrition info: ihop.com
Prefer the drive-thru when eating out? Then check out “The 5 Worst Fast-Food Salads for Your Waistline.”
Have you ever tried any of these salads? Would you do so, now that you know what is in them? Share your thoughts in our Forums. It’s the place where you can speak your mind, explore topics in-depth, and post questions and get answers.