Olive Garden Is Probably Worse For You Than McDonalds

Illustration for article titled Olive Garden Is Probably Worse For You Than McDonalds

New research suggests that food at so-called "sit down" restaurant chains are actually less healthy than food at their "eat out of lap in car" fast food counterparts, thanks to ungodly portions and rosters of fatty, salty ingredients that could choke a Paula Deen cookbook.


The analysis, published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, involved more than 2,600 menu items at all sorts of suburban hellscape staples like Red Lobster and TGI Friday's and Chili's and Olive Garden and Patrick O'Depression's Neighborhood Despair Hoedown. Researchers found that most old fashioned plate-and-fork restaurants are guilty of overfeeding their patrons big time — the average shared appetizer, adult entree, and side dish contained 1495 calories, 28 g of saturated fat, and 3,312 mg of sodium. Drink or dessert pushed most meals over 2,000 calories. Nutritionists recommend that adults consume a maximum of 2,000 calories per day, so unless a person is literally Michael Phelps, the offerings along the frontage road are probably overkill.

Lesson: plates don't magically make calories disappear, a food item that contains a dropped g (sizzlin', bloomin', heart explodin') is, as a rule, not nutritious, and a restaurant that celebrates something called the "Never Ending Pasta Bowl month" may, in fact, turn out to be a less healthy choice than a restaurant that slings fatty — but finite— hamburgers.

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I don't understand people who go to the Olive Garden when there are so many similarly priced but infinitely tastier mom and pop Italian restaurants in northern NJ. Probably not much healthier, but way more worth the occasional caloric splurge than what you'd get at OG.