Olive Garden Unhealthy? Study Suggests Sit-Down Restaurants Aren’t Good For You Either

The next time you choose Olive Garden over McDonald’s, you might want to reconsider your decision. Either way you go, you’re getting a ton of calories.

Although most people tend to think that sit-down restaurants such as Olive Garden and Red Lobster are healthier alternatives to fast food joints, a new study suggests that you’re probably better off scarfing down a Big Mac.

According to a study recently published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Olive Garden and its ilk offer items that are generally unhealthier than the sort of stuff you can grab at McDonald’s. In fact, sit-down restaurants generally rank higher in terms of calories, sodium, and saturated fat.

“Consumers tend to view full-service restaurants as superior in quality and healthfulness compared with quick service restaurants. However, a few studies contrasted nutritional values by restaurant types and found much higher calories and nutrients at full-service restaurants,” the study explains.

The next time you decide to grab a bite to eat at Olive Garden or another sit-down restaurant, consider this: An appetizer, entree, and side dish averages at around 1,495 calories. When you toss a dessert item into the mix, this pushes the caloric intake over the recommended daily consumption for adults.

Medical Daily suggests that a normal meal for the average adult should run between 500 and 600 calories. In other words, you’re getting around four times the amount of calories from sit-down joints in one fell swoop. To make matters worse, researchers discovered that these restaurants exceeded sodium levels by 153 percent.

Olive Garden definitely has a few calorie bombs on its menu. The Steak Gorgonzola Alfredo comes packaged with 1,310 calories, 73 grams of fat, and 2,190 milligrams of sodium. Sausage and Peppers Rustica offers less calories (1,120) but a bit more sodium (2,440).

In the spirit of fairness, Olive Garden and other sit-down restaurants do have healthier selections. For example: Olive Garden’s Lighter Italian Fair menu offers Baked Tilapia with Shrimp (340 calories), Lasagna Primavera with Grilled Chicken (560 calories), and Venetian Apricot Chicken (420) to patrons who are watching their diets.

In other words, knowing is definitely half the battle. Taking a look at a restaurant’s nutrition info before making your selection is the best way to approach the situation. If you wan’t want a day’s worth of calories in one sitting, then make smart choices when the waiter or waitress is ready to take your order.

Are you surprised that Olive Garden and other sit-down restaurants are just as unhealthy as fast food joints? Do you look at a restaurant’s nutrition info before placing your order?

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]