10 Worst Foods

Our nutritionists pick 10 of the worst foods from American restaurants and grocery aisles


Nutritionists here at the Center for Science in the Public Interest decided to identify 10 foods that represent the worst America’s food manufacturers and restaurants have to offer.

Are there 10 that are probably worse than these? Sure. (In fact you could likely find 10 things at The Cheesecake Factory that are worse than all of these). But these are the types of foods — high in some combination of calories, saturated fat, sodium, white flour, and sugar — that are contributing to America’s obesity, diabetes, and heart disease problems.

1. Pot Belly Pie

Judging by the label, Stouffer’s Satisfying Servings (16 oz.) White Meat Chicken Pot Pie has “only” 570 calories, 12 grams of saturated fat, and 810 mg of sodium. But those numbers are for only half a pie. Eat the entire pie, as many people do, and you’re talking 1,100 calories, 23 grams of saturated fat (more than a day’s worth), and 1,560 mg of sodium (a day’s worth).

2. Five Fleshy Guys 

Think Five Guys is better than fast food burger joints? The Hamburger (with no toppings) has 700 calories and a day's worth of saturated fat (20 grams) and makes a McDonald's Big Mac (520 calories) look wimpy. The Bacon Cheeseburger (sans toppings) hits 920 calories and 1 1/2 days' worth of saturated fat (30 grams). Add 950 calories for the regular fries or 1,310 calories for the large. A large McDonald's Fries has "only" 500 calories.

3. Liquid Salt

An average cup of Campbell's regular Condensed Soup has 800 mg of sodium. But most people eat the whole can of soup, which contains around 2,000 mg of sodium—more than most adults should consume in an entire day! Look for Campbell’s Healthy Request soups with 410 mg of sodium per cup (still a lot if you eat the whole can). Better yet, choose lower sodium soups by Amy’s, Dr. McDougall’s, Health Valley, Imagine, Pacific, and Trader Joe’s. 

4. Tortilla Terror

Interested in a Chipotle Chicken Burrito (tortilla, rice, pinto beans, cheese, chicken, sour cream, and salsa)? Think of its 1,050 calories, 17 grams of saturated fat, and 2,400 mg of sodium as six Taco Bell Chicken Soft Tacos! Lose the flour tortilla and order a salad instead to drop the calories to around 500.

5. Factory Reject 

People don't expect low-calorie desserts at The Cheesecake Factory. But the Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake kicks things up a notch. If it weren’t served on its side, this one would stand over six inches tall. And upright or not, the slab of cake still weighs in at three-quarters of a pound. What do you get for all that heft? Just 1,810 calories and 3 days’ worth of saturated fat (62 grams), mostly from chocolate, sugar, cream, white flour, and butter. 

6. Macadoozy 

Mac & cheese, a classic comfort food, is back. Uno Pizzeria & Grill’s Deep Dish Mac & Cheese hits 1,690 calories (nearly a day’s worth), 57 grams of saturated fat (3 days’ worth), and 3,590 mg of sodium (2 days’ worth). It has more calories and saturated fat than a Family Size box of Stouffer’s Macaroni & Cheese (serves five).  

7. Triple Bypass 

Can’t decide what to pick from a restaurant menu? No worries. Now you can order not just one entrée, but two… or three…all at once. Olive Garden’s Tour of Italy—lasagna, chicken parmigiana, and fettuccine alfredo—comes with 1,520 calories, 48 grams of saturated fat, and 3,250 mg of sodium. Add a breadstick (140 calories and 460 mg of sodium) and a serving of house salad with dressing (140 calories and 740 mg of sodium) and you’ll consume 1,800 calories (nearly a day’s worth) and 4,450 mg of sodium (3 days’ worth) in a single meal!

8. Starbucks on Steroids 

The Starbucks Venti (20 oz.) White Chocolate Mocha with 2% milk and whipped cream is more than a mere cup of coffee. It’s as bad as a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese. Few people have room in their diets for the 580 calories, 14 grams of saturated fat, and an estimated 12 teaspoons of added sugar that this hefty beverage supplies. But you can drop the calories to 270 and saturated fat to 3½ grams if you get a Tall (12 oz.) made with nonfat milk and no whipped cream. 

9. Extreme Ice Cream

A typical half-cup serving of Häagen-Dazs ice cream squeezes half a day’s saturated fat into your artery walls and 300 calories with an estimated 4 teaspoons of added sugar into your fat cells—if you can stop at a petite half-cup!

10. Stone Cold 

Cold Stone Creamery's Oh Fudge! shake (chocolate ice cream, milk, and fudge syrup) starts at 820 calories for the small "Like It" (12 oz.) size. That's about the same as a large (22 oz.) McDonald's McCafé Shake. The larger "Love It" (20 oz.) size reaches 1,360 calories and 52 grams of saturated fat (2 1/2 days' worth). That's the saturated fat content of two 14-oz ribeye steaks plus a buttered baked potato, all blended into a handy 20-oz cup.