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20 Worst Foods in America and What to Eat Instead



Men's Health has listed their 20 worst foods in America for 2012. They are in brief below, followed by their recommendation for what to eat instead (menshealth.com, 2012).

Keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration RDI (Recommended Daily Intake) calories for a woman is 2,000 and for a man 2,500. RDI: 55 g fat (20 g saturated), and 2,300 mg sodium.

WORST FOODS in AMERICA (Menís Health, 2012)

1. THE WORST FOOD IN AMERICA: Cheesecake Factory Bistro Shrimp Pasta: 2,730 calories, N/A g fat (78 g saturated fat), 919 mg sodium. The Cheesecake Factory has earned the title of America's Worst Restaurant for the 4th year running. No establishment better represents the confluence of factors that have saddled America with an ever-worsening obesity crisis. First, portion sizes are large enough to feed an NFL offensive line. Second, the use of cheap sources of flavor - oils, butter, cream, salt, and sugar - knows no limit. Finally, the percentage of dishes fit for consumption is absurdly small (we count 8 on a menu of more than 200 dishes). Amidst the carnage, one dish sinks below all the rest: the Bistro Shrimp Pasta. Tangled up in these noodles are more calories than you'd consume if you ate three sticks of butter for dinner. EAT THIS INSTEAD: Fresh Grilled Salmon 490 calories, N/A g fat (6 g saturated fat), 290 mg sodium.

2. WORST CHICKEN ENTREE: The Cheesecake Factory Chicken and Biscuits: 2,580 calories, N/A g fat (68 g saturated), 2,621 mg sodium. Weighted down with more 1,000-plus-calorie meals than any other chain in America (26 at last count), the Cheesecake Factory offers diners a Russian roulette of choices, only with worse odds. Every time you pick up your fork, you risk absorbing days' worth of unsavory macronutrients. Take the Chicken and Biscuits for example. It's a classic like Grandma used to make - that is, if your grandma used every form of fat in the pantry and doled it out by the bathtubful. EAT THIS INSTEAD: Weight Management Spicy Chicken Salad 440 calories, N/A g fat (1 g saturated), 771 mg sodium.

3. WORST RIBS: TGI Friday's Caribbean Rockin' Reggae Ribs: 2,450 calories, 52 g saturated fat, 3,810 mg sodium. Of all the foods on this list - burgers, fries, pasta, ice cream - no food is more consistently catastrophic than a rack of restaurant ribs. Part of that is due to the fact that ribs comprise a nutritionally flawed cut of meat, redolent as they are with both external and intramuscular fat. But restaurant cooking methods, which invariably involve layer after layer of oily, sugar-dense barbecue sauce, only compound the problem. EAT THIS INSTEAD: Petite Sirloin 460 calories.

4. WORST BREAKFAST: IHOP Big Country Breakfast with Country Fried Steak & Country Gravy: 2,440 calories, 145 g fat (56 g saturated), 5,520 mg sodium. It's a 12-ounce steak breaded, fried, and dripping with gravy; three eggs; hash browns; and three pancakes crowned with an ice cream scoop of butter and a sugary tide of syrup. EAT THIS INSTEAD: Simple & Fit Spinach, Mushroom & Tomato Omelette 330 calories, 12 g fat (5 g saturated), 690 mg sodium.

5. WORST APPETIZER: Applebee's Appetizer Sampler: 2,430 calories, 166 g fat (48 g saturated), 6,070 mg sodium. It begins with chips and spinach-artichoke dip, a euphemism for a crock of cream and cheese with a few token shards of vegetable matter. From there, it gets worse: fried chicken wings, fried mozzarella sticks, and greasy cheese quesadillas. EAT THIS INSTEAD: Chicken Wonton Tacos 590 calories, 24 g fat (4.5 g saturated), 2,150 mg sodium.

6. WORST PIZZA: Uno Chicago Grill Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (individual): 2,310 calories, 165 g fat (54 g saturated), 4,650 mg sodium. The problem starts, of course, with the crust, which is bathed in oil, rich in refined carbohydrates, and about three times thicker than a normal pizza in order to support the onslaught of toppings it invariably houses. Tack on oozing layers of mozzarella, Romano, and sausage (the "classic" topping of choice), and you have an individual pizza with more calories than you'd consume if you took down an entire extra-large Domino's Thin Crust chorizo pie. EAT THIS INSTEAD: Thin Five-Grain Crust Roasted Eggplant, Spinach & Feta Pizza (1/2 pie) 435 calories, 17 g fat (5 g saturated), 600 mg sodium.

7. WORST BURGER: Chili's Jalapeno Smokehouse Bacon Burger with Ranch 2,210 calories, 144 g fat (46 g saturated), 6,600 mg sodium. This burger has tortilla strips, bacon, Cheddar, mayo, and jalapeno-ranch dressing), and punishes partakers with more than 2 days worth of saturated fat and as much sodium as you'd find in 6 pounds of McDonald's french fries. EAT THIS INSTEAD: Margarita Grilled Chicken 550 calories, 14 g fat (4 g saturated), 1,870 mg sodium.

8. WORST FISH MEAL: Culver's North Atlantic Cod Filet Meal (3 pieces): 2,156 calories, 140 g fat (21 g saturated, 2 g trans), 2,378 mg sodium. Culver's doesn't stop with its battered and oiled cod filets; it ups the risk to your waistline and overall well-being by adding heaping helpings of the default sides of cole slaw, fries, tartar sauce, and a dinner roll. EAT THIS INSTEAD: Flame Roasted Chicken Sandwich with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy 449 calories, 10 g fat (2 g saturated), 1,374 mg sodium.

9. WORST MEXICAN MEAL: On the Border Dox XX Fish Tacos: 2,150 calories, 144 g fat (31 g saturated), 3,740 mg sodium. Mexican food at its best can be a well-balanced cuisine built around fresh vegetables, grilled meats and fish, and healthy condiments like fresh salsa and guacamole. Unfortunately, the faux-Mexican food dished out by monster chains like Chili's, Chevy's, and On the Border bears little resemblance to the real stuff, reliant as it is on deep-frying, cream-based sauces, and the ubiquitous blankets of melted cheese. These tacos represent what happens when an irresponsible corporate kitchen hijacks an entire culinary culture. EAT THIS INSTEAD: 3 Chicken Tostadas 390 calories, 15 g fat (6 g saturated), 1,050 mg sodium.

10. WORST FRIES: Chili's Texas Cheese Fries with Chili and Ranch: 2,120 calories, 144 g fat (69 g saturated), 5,920 mg sodium. How do you make deep-fried potatoes even more detrimental to your health? Glob on a ladleful of gooey cheese and a pile of chili and dip the whole mess in ranch dressing. EAT THIS INSTEAD: Homestyle Fries 380 calories, 13 g fat (3 g saturated), 1,210 mg sodium.

11. WORST DESSERT: Baskin-Robbins Fudge Brownie 31 Degrees Below (large): 1,900 calories, 80 g fat (39 g saturated, 1.5 g trans), 1,350 mg sodium, 225 g sugars. We might even go as far as to call this 24-ounce orgy of soft-serve, brownie, and hot fudge the most nuritionally imbalanced food in America, punishing ice cream hounds with not just an excess of calories and saturated fat, but also a concerning dose of trans fats, a dizzying amount of sugar, and, most disturbingly, more than half a day's worth of sodium. EAT THIS INSTEAD: Premium Churned Light Aloha Brownie Ice Cream 250 calories, 8 g fat (4.5 g saturated), 33 g sugars

12. WORST SANDWICH: The Cheesecake Factory Grilled Shrimp & Bacon Club: 1,890 calories, N/A g fat (24 g saturated), 2,964 mg sodium. Only through a feat of dark nutrition arts did the Cheesecake Factory cram more calories than the worst fast-food burger has into such an innocuous-sounding sandwich. EAT THIS INSTEAD: The Factory Burger 730 calories, N/A g fat (15 g saturated), 1,016 mg sodium

13. WORST CHINESE ENTREE: PF Chang's Double Pan-Fried Noodles Combo: 1,820 calories, 84 g fat (8 g saturated), 7,692 mg sodium. Consider this: Experts recommend that endurance athletes consume no more than 300 mg sodium per hour of exercise. At that rate, you would need to exercise for 25 hours to utilize the salt found in this one dish. While by no means low calorie, it's the noodles' status as the Saltiest Dish in America that truly terrifies us. Eat this and you don't need another milligram of sodium for 5 days. EAT THIS INSTEAD: Shanghai Shrimp with Garlic Sauce 390 calories, 40 g fat (4 g saturated), 2,100 mg sodium.

14. WORST FAST-FOOD BURGER: Sonic Ring Leader Loaded Burger Double Patty: 1,660 calories, 120 g fat (44 g saturated; 4 g trans), 1,450 mg sodium. Before you even nosh a fry or sip a soda, you've packed in three-fourths of your day's calories. The bacon strips and onion rings will corral much of the criticism, but it's the less-flashy components that hold the hidden danger. Next to the half pound of beef, the two slices of Cheddar cheese and the double slather of mayo account for a third of the fat. (That's not to mention the "bun oil" squeezed on). EAT THIS INSTEAD: Jr. Deluxe Burger with Bacon and Green Chilies 425 calories, 25 g fat (8 g saturated; 0.5 g trans), 705 mg sodium

15. WORST SALAD: California Pizza Kitchen Waldorf Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing: 1,561 calories, N/A g fat (31 g saturated), 1,821 mg sodium. The first half of this menu description reads like nutritional poetry - field greens, fresh grapes, sliced apples - but it stops there. Sugar-coated walnuts, Gorgonzola, and a flood of blue cheese dressing all conspire to saddle this salad with more calories than any of CPK's whole pizzas. EAT THIS INSTEAD: Classic Caesar Salad with Grilled Shrimp 649 calories, N/A g fat (15 g saturated), 1,338 mg sodium

16. WORST FRANKENFOOD: Friendlyís Grilled Cheese Burger: 1,540 calories, 92 g fat (35 saturated), 2,490 mg sodium. Used to be that only carnivals served ill-advised food mash-ups. Friendly's has taken up the audacious challenge with its new riff on the basic patty melt. A galling use of grilled cheese sandwiches as buns forms what appears to be three full meals stacked together. Not surprisingly, then, this burger is also loaded with more fat than three people should eat in one sitting. EAT THIS INSTEAD: Caprese Chicken Sandwich 550 calories, 13 g fat (3 g saturated), 1,970 mg sodium

17. WORST FAST FOOD BREAKFAST: Burger King BK Ultimate Breakfast Platter: 1,310 calories, 72 g fat (26 g saturated, 1 g trans), 2,490 mg sodium. Platters are meant to feed groups, not individuals. This hacks away at your arteries with buttered eggs, fried potatoes, gristly sausage, and a trans fat-filled biscuit. (And we're not even talking about the diabetic debacle that is the pile of pancakes and syrup.) You'd better have run 12 miles before queuing up for this breakfast at BK. That's what it would take for the average person to burn through this platter's 1,300 calories. EAT THIS INSTEAD: Ham, Egg, & Cheese Croissan'wich 350 calories, 17 g fat (7 g saturated), 1,100 mg sodium.

18. WORST "HEALTHY" SANDWICH: Quizno's Veggie (Large): 1,090 calories, 61 g fat (19 g saturated), 2,540 mg sodium. In most people's minds, "veggie" is synonymous with "healthy," which is what makes this sandwich such a sly beast. You might think it's a welterweight, but topped as it is with the trio of mozzarella cheese, Cheddar cheese, and guacamole - which together provide a full day's worth of fat. EAT THIS INSTEAD: Pan Asian Chopped Salad (regular) 430 calories, 17.5 g fat (4 g saturated), 1,915 mg sodium.

19. WORST SUPERMARKET MEAL: Hungry-Man Pub Favorites Classic Fried Chicken: 1,030 calories, 62 g fat (14 g saturated), 1,610 mg sodium. Mammoth pieces of fried chicken, sweet corn, mashed potatoes, and a chocolate brownie add up to what the box proudly proclaims is "1 lb" of food. Every bit of it - minus the corn - is loaded with trans fat-heavy partially hydrogenated oils. Despite a 2006 FDA requirement, Hungry-Man doesn't list the trans fat content on its box-length list of ingredients. EAT THIS INSTEAD: Marie Callender's Honey Roasted Turkey: 320 calories, 11 g fat (3.5 g saturated, 920mg sodium).

20. WORST SIDE DISH: TGI Friday's Loaded Mashed Potatoes. What appears to be two potatoes worth of mash is corrupted with fat, fat, and more fat. First, they're whipped with butter and cream and then they're blanketed with Cheddar cheese and finally pelted with bacon pieces. This would be a poor entree order. As a side, it's just gross. Because Friday's won't supply nutritional information other than calories, we can't tell you how much of a fat toll this feast will take on your gut. EAT THIS INSTEAD: Basket of Sweet Potato Fries 400 calories.

For more information, go to http://eatthis.menshealth.com