Even if you are counting calories, cutting back on sugar, and diligently tracking your fat intake, there’s one item on the nutrition panel that you might be ignoring: sodium. Turns out, the typical American adult eats enough salt a day to cause heart damage, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Researchers found that half of the participants consumed at least 3,730 milligrams of sodium a day—much more than the FDA-recommended max of 2,300 milligrams. Those who ate that much sodium were twice as likely as those who consumed the least sodium to have signs of muscle strain in the heart and have an enlarged left chamber of the heart, which controls pumping oxygen-rich blood into the body.
Although 3,700 milligrams seems like a lot, it’s an easy number to achieve if you’re dining out and not paying attention to the nutrition information. That’s why we compiled a list of dishes from popular restaurant chains that each have nearly—and in most cases more than—4,000 milligrams of sodium, nearly twice your recommended daily amount.
“Salt is the deadliest ingredient in the food supply, and one of the biggest problems with chain-restaurant food,” the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) co-founder and senior scientist Michael F. Jacobson explains. “But most chains aren’t making much progress in reducing sodium.”
Ranked from bad to worst, find out which of your favorite meals are total sodium bombs.
Carrabba’s Fettuccine Weesie With Whole Grain Spaghetti
Courtesy of Carrabba’s
Don’t let the “whole grain” pasta fool; at 1,520 calories and more than 3,700 milligrams of sodium, this pasta dish from Carrabba’s is anything but healthy. To stay safe, you should probably pick something else on the menu.
P.F. Chang’s Hot and Sour Soup Bowl
Courtesy of P.F. Chang’s
It’s no secret that soups tend to be heavy on the sodium, and a bowl of the Hot and Sour Soup from P.F. Chang’s is no exception. Usually, if you order a bowl of soup, that’s not the only thing you’re eating, especially at P.F. Chang’s, where it’s easy to order a few dishes to share.
On the Border Three Sauce Fajita Burrito
Courtesy of Yelp/Jen L.
With such a large tortilla and a selection of salty sauces, it’s no wonder this burrito has nearly a whopping 4,100 milligrams of sodium. And that’s just for the burrito itself; the number goes up an additional 1,000 milligrams if you add beans and rice on the side.
Yard House Boneless Buffalo Wings
Courtesy of Yard House
Boneless chicken wings usually mean more meat than the bone-in versions, meaning there’s more room to pack in the sodium with a fried coating and thick and creamy sauce. The biggest sodium bomb at Yard House is a plate of Boneless Buffalo Wings, which have more than 4,100 milligrams of salt.
Quiznos Classic Italian 12-inch Sandwich
Courtesy of Quiznos
This Italian sandwich is like a combo of the saltiest (and fattiest) deli meats available: capicola, salami, ham, and pepperoni. Add to that some olives and a vinaigrette dressing, and you’ve got yourself over 4,000 grams of belly-busting sodium.
On The Border Firecracker Stuffed Jalapenos with Queso
These jalapeno poppers should be called “firecracker” because of how much they’ll make your waist explode. In addition to packing more than 150 percent of your day’s worth of saturated fat, these stuffed jalapenos have more sodium than 22 packets of salt.
Red Robin Clucks & Fries Buffalo Style
Courtesy of Red Robin
Chicken fingers and french fries is already a fattening combo, so it’s no surprise this entree from Red Robin clocks in at more than 100 grams of fat (!!!) and about as many calories as you should have in a day. But it’s a sodium bomb too with 4,180 grams—that’s more than 20 salt packets from McDonald’s.
Cheesecake Factory Burrito Grande
The Cheesecake Factory is known for its larger portions, and this burrito, while an entree, can easily be shared. Still, more than 4,200 milligrams of sodium is a lot, as is 159 grams of carbs.
Red Lobster Dragon Shrimp
Courtesy of Red Lobster
Don’t be fooled by thinking this shrimp dish “isn’t so bad” compared to others on this list. It’s overall lower in calories (although still high!), but with a whopping 4,230 milligrams of sodium, you still want to be careful if you’re thinking of ordering this during your next trip to Red Lobster.
Friendly’s Loaded Waffle Fries
Courtesy of Friendly’s
As if fries weren’t salty enough, Friendly’s douses theirs with cheddar cheese, bacon, and sour cream. This is one menu item that’s not very friendly for your waistline (or blood pressure).
Applebee’s Brew Pub Pretzels & Beer Cheese Dip
Courtesy of Applebee’s
Pretzels might seem like a harmless appetizer option at first glance, but it should really come as no surprise that they’re carrying a lot of salt. You’ll be downing more than 4,500 milligrams of sodium before your main course arrives.
Romano’s Macaroni Grill Classic Italian Bake
With so much salty sausage, cheese, and sauce in this recipe, it’s no wonder it’s twice your daily intake of saturated fat and more than 4,620 milligrams of sodium. Swap it out for the grilled steak and potatoes to save over 3,000 milligrams of sodium and 1,000 calories.
Pei Wei Asian Diner Chicken Pad Thai
Even though this chicken dish has some veggies thrown in, that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. After this chicken is tossed in a salty sauce, it’s served on top of a bed of noodles, making it a shocking 1,470 calories and more than 4,700 milligrams of sodium.
Chili’s Crispy Buffalo Bleu Crispers
Courtesy of Chili’s
The word “crispy” should already be a red flag because it’s just code for deep fried. This chicken is served with French fries and slathered in bleu cheese, adding more calories and sodium to this meal that is already doing no favors for your health.
Maggiano’s Gnocchi & Italian Sausage
You already know pasta is carb-heavy, which is why the slightly more than 100 grams of carbs for this gnocchi shouldn’t be a huge shock. But the added salty Italian sausage brings this dish over 5,000 milligrams of sodium—that’s more than two day’s worth.
Applebee’s Neighborhood Nachos
Courtesy of Applebee’s
If you order Applebee’s Neighborhood Nachos as an app, you’re ingesting over 5,000 milligrams of sodium before your entree even arrives. Yikes. Not watching your sodium count is one of the 20 Surprising Reasons Why You’re Gaining Weight.
Uno Pizzeria & Grill’s Whole Hog Burger
Courtesy of Uno
This burger is so alarming high in calories, fat, and sodium, as it is served with both onion rings and fries. But even if you ditch the sides, the burger itself comes in at 6,510 milligrams of sodium. That’s just a whole lot of everything from one burger!
Buffalo Wild Wings Large Blazin’ Boneless Wings
Courtesy of Buffalo Wild Wings
Just know that a large order of wings and sauce can cost you nearly 10,000 milligrams of sodium. Even if you’re sharing this order (which we hope you are), it’s best to have plenty of water and celery on hand.