If you’re an avid Eat This, Not That! reader, you know how detrimental trans fat is to our health. This type of harmful fat lowers our HDL levels (good cholesterol), promotes inflammation, and can trigger heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic conditions, according to Harvard Health. All of these detrimental effects is exactly why the 2015-2020 American Dietary Guidelines limit trans fats to as low as possible—which means that zero is your optimal number.
So where does trans fat come from? There are two types: man-made artificial trans fats and naturally-occurring ones. Artificial trans fats are created when hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oils, a process that turns the oil solid. Man-made trans fat can be found in baked goods and fried foods under the name “partially hydrogenated oil.” Natural trans fats are made in the gut of some animals, which is why you’d find the fat in meat and dairy products. Trans fats can hide in obvious places (like fried foods and monstrous burgers) and not-so-obvious ones (like, for example, the coleslaw at Long John Silver’s has one gram of the stuff in the family size).
To get your health in check and stave off heart disease, the team at Eat This, Not That! set out to discover the restaurant meals with the most trans fat, so that you know what to avoid when eating out. In order to compile a list of the foods with high trans fat content at popular restaurants, we assessed the nutritional information of popular appetizers, side dishes, entrees, and desserts and included the picks with more than two grams of trans fat. We ranked these menu items from bad to worst according to trans fat content and broke ties by deferring to our secondary metric, calorie count. Find out which 30 restaurant foods have the most trans fat.
Ranked from bad to absolute worst…
Arby’s Half Pound Beef & Cheddar
Courtesy of Arby’s
Arby’s definitely “has the meats,” but it also serves up an incredulous amount of trans fat and sodium in its beef and cheddar roast beef sandwich. Nearly half of this sammy’s calories come from fat, too!
Popeyes Catfish Po’ Boy Sandwich
This classic southern sandwich carries two grams of trans fat nestled inside a bed of fried shrimp. In addition to that, you’ll also get over a half day’s worth of sodium.
Popeyes Cajun Fries
A staggering 804 calories and two grams of heart-harming trans fat—just for a side of seasoned fries? We’ll definitely pass. If you’re at Popeye’s and want to pair your chicken with a better-for-you dish, pick the green beans or coleslaw.
Courtesy of Checkers
With two beef patties, a load of cheese, and way too much bacon, we’re not surprised that this monstrous burger carries two grams of trans fat. In addition to that, the Baconzilla also houses 23 grams of saturated fat, which amounts to over two days’ worth!
Shake Shack Double ShackBurger
Shake Shack’s cheeseburger is stacked with two patties and ShackSauce, rendering two grams of trans fat and over two days’ worth of saturated fat. You’re better off ordering the single burger for just 400 calories—you’ll also save a gram of trans fat. For an order that doesn’t house any trans fat, go for the Veggie Shack, which boasts six grams of heart-healthy fiber.
McDonald’s Grand Mac
Courtesy of McDonald’s
Stacked with a half-pound of beef, a double dousing of special sauce, two slices of cheese, and three slices of bread, the Grand Mac is definitely one of the worst items you can order at the golden arches. This sandwich boasts two grams of heart-disease-triggering trans fat, as well as the equivalent amount of total fat as almost five small packets of McDonald’s fries.
Dairy Queen ½-lb FlameThrower GrillBurger
Courtesy of Dairy Queen
DQ manages to pack this burger with a half-pound of fatty beef, melted pepper jack cheese, bacon, and a thick sauce that all contribute to the nearly one-thousand-calorie mark and two grams of trans fat. Instead, get the grilled chicken sandwich—which has zero trans fat and under 400 calories.
Wienerschnitzel Chocolate Covered Strawberry Freezee
Courtesy of Wienerschnitzel
Who knew that a chocolate strawberry shake could clock in at nearly 1,000 calories and two grams of artery-clogging trans fat? Wienerschnitzel manages to sneak those scary nutritionals in, so you’re better off saying sayonara to dessert at the burger joint.
Five Guys Bacon Cheeseburger With Lettuce, Tomato, Pickles, Ketchup, and Mayo
Not only will you ingest over a thousand calories, but you’ll also get a serious dose of trans fat in this somewhat-innocent-sounding bacon cheeseburger. Instead, opt for the Little Hamburger and forget the fries—even a regular order of Five Guys fries houses one gram of trans fat thanks to the oil it is fried in.
Whataburger Mushroom Swiss Burger
Courtesy of Whataburger
You might think that ordering a burger with mushrooms is a better choice than ordering a bacon-topped sandwich, but not at Whataburger. This sammy rings in two grams of trans fat and 360 more calories than its bacon and cheese Whataburger.
SONIC Oreo Chocolate Shake
Yikes: 1,200 calories, over three days’ worth of saturated fat, and about four days’ worth of sugar? Keep checking the nutrition panel, and you’ll also spot two grams of trans fat in Sonic’s Oreo chocolate shake. This dessert is definitely not worth a sip.
Zaxby’s Buffalo Traditional Wings & Things
Courtesy of Zaxby’s
Not only does this Buffalo wing dish come packed with crinkle fries and Texas toast (which are made up of fat and refined carbs) but it also packs in various fat-laden sauces. You’ll get two grams of trans fat in this dish, along with the salt equivalent of 217 Rold Gold pretzel sticks!
Boston Market Meatloaf
This larger-than-life meatloaf has 2.5 grams of trans fat. Instead of opting for the massive 10.2-ounce meatloaf, go for the kid’s portion, which clocks in at 240 calories, 1 gram of trans fat, 460 milligrams of sodium, and 13 grams of protein.
Baskin Robbins Vanilla Milkshake
A vanilla milkshake sounds innocent, but this insidious cup from Baskin Robbins hosts nearly an entire day’s worth of calories and over five days’ worth of diabetes-inducing sugar! Blame it on 32 ounces of blended ice cream, milk, and multiple sources of added sugar.
Baskin Robbins Mint Chocolate Chip Milkshake
Courtesy of Baskin Robbins
Baskin Robbins’ minty milkshake packs in a jaw-dropping 34 teaspoons of sugar, and the trans fat content is justified by the first ingredient: cream.
Boston Market Rotisserie Prime Rib
At first glance, Boston Market’s Rotisserie Prime Rib seems like a safe bet, clocking in at 630 calories and packing in 55 grams of protein. However, this cut of meat is way too large for a single serving—and way too fatty. Prime rib has naturally-occurring trans fats, so you’ll want to decrease your intake by going for half the portion or less, or choosing a leaner cut of meat like chicken or turkey breast.
Red Lobster Cajun Chicken Linguini
Courtesy of Red Lobster
This giant pasta dish is not a dinner to be reckoned with. The hefty dousing of Parmesan cream sauce lends the meal an absurd amount of fat, calories, and sodium. You’ll get over two days’ worth of saturated fat and 22 small orders of McDonald’s fries worth of salt!
Denny’s Double Cheeseburger
This double cheeseburger packs in the salt equivalent of 57 saltine crackers and about 17 bacon strips worth of saturated fat. No burger on the Denny’s menu is a safe choice, but this one is truly the worst.
Burger King Bacon King
This BK offer comes with a half-pound of fatty beef, a hearty portion of thick-cut smoked bacon, American cheese, ketchup, and mayo, all sandwiched between a soft sesame seed bun. Sounds like a one-way ticket to heart disease, if you ask us! Opt for the Bacon King Jr., and you’ll save a whopping 580 calories, 2.5 grams of artery-clogging trans fat, and a half day’s worth of bloating sodium.
Zaxby’s Buffalo Chicken Finger Plate, 6-Piece
Courtesy of Zaxby’s
This Zaxby’s dish packs in buffalo sauce chicken fingers, crinkle fries, and coleslaw that amount to the walloping 1,670 calories and 3.5 grams of trans fat.
Wendy’s Dave’s Triple
Courtesy of Wendy’s
Wendy’s triple-patty-burger contains three-quarters of a pound of beef, in addition to processed American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickled, ketchup, mayo, and onion on a toasted bun. While most of the trans fat is coming from the beef and cheese, just because it’s naturally-occurring, it doesn’t give you the green light to dig into this burger. If you’re craving a burger at Wendy’s, get one of the Jr. options to cut back on heart-taxing trans fat.
Hardee’s ⅔-lb Monster Thickburger
You’ll get about a day and a half’s worth of blood-pressure-raising salt, as well as a whopping four grams of our heart-harming culprit trans fat.
The Cheesecake Factory Louisiana Chicken Pasta
Courtesy of The Cheesecake Factory
If you’re looking to raise your LDL cholesterol and heart disease risk, this is the dish to order on the regular. And no, we’re not condoning that. The Louisiana Chicken Pasta contains a whopping four grams of trans fat coming from the oil-doused fried chicken and a preposterous amount of cheese.
The Cheesecake Factory Bruléed French Toast with Bacon
Courtesy of The Cheesecake Factory
Clocking in at over two thousand calories and housing over five days’ worth of saturated fat—and four grams of trans fat—this bacon-topped bruléed French toast is anything but a balanced breakfast. You’ll get a boatload of empty carbs and as much sugar as 4.7 Snickers bars!
Buffalo Wild Wings Cheese Curd Bacon Burger With Fries
Cheese curds and bacon topped over a fatty patty lend this burger 85 of Lay’s chips worth of fat. You’ll also find four-and-a-half Big Macs worth of trans fat in this monstrous sandwich from Buffalo Wild Wings.
Burger King Triple Stacker
Burger King’s triple-stacked burger contains a full day’s worth of sodium and nearly double the amount of saturated fat as McDonald’s massive Quarter Pounder with Cheese. Blame it on the ¾-pound beef patty, smoky bacon, melted American cheese, and the sugary Stacker sauce. Plus, there are five grams of trans fat in this massive burger!
The Cheesecake Factory’s Factory Nachos with Spicy Chicken
Courtesy of The Cheesecake Factory
The Cheesecake Factory is home to some of the fattiest meals on the planet, and this spicy-chicken-topped appetizer is no exception. In addition to sneaking in a whopping five grams of trans fat, these nachos also pack in as much sodium as 1.6 teaspoons of salt, a double whammy against your heart!
Outback Steakhouse’s Bloomin’ Onion
Outback may be known for its Bloomin’ onion appetizer, but that shouldn’t give you the green light to order it off the menu. The calorie, sodium, and carb counts are excessively high, but the trans fat content is the most outrageous. It’s clear that Outback fries its onion in partially-hydrogenated oil, which means you’re way better off skipping this fried app.
Buffalo Wild Wings Boneless Large Thai Curry Wings
With 2,790 calories, 172 grams of fat, and a staggering seven grams of trans fat, this is one of the fattiest dishes you can order at BWW. Out of all the signature wing sauces, the Thai Curry sauce boasts the most calories and fat—and who knows how much sauce BWW douses its large dish of wings with. Go for the small order with a side of hot BBQ sauce, which contains just 35 calories.
Captain D’s Family Seafood Feast
Courtesy of Captain D’s
Almost 4,000 calories, 10 days’ worth of saturated fat, and 16 grams of trans fat (scary stuff!) deems this dish the absolute worst on our list. Where’s all the fat coming from? The batter-dipped fish, crispy butterfly shrimp, seafood-stuffed crab shells, and hush puppies are all fried in heart-taxing oil.
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