The Unhealthiest Fish Order at 10 Big Restaurant Chains

Fish is one of the most nutrient-rich proteins to include in your diet, it is rich in healthy fats and full of vitamins and minerals. That’s why the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating seafood twice a week. But even with fish’s nutritious benefits, it’s still easy to go wrong when you order it.

Many of your favorite restaurants batter and fry their fish, which contributes to a lot of extra calories from unhealthy types of fat. And it is usually accompanied by high-calorie side dishes, such as fries or potatoes with butter. While delicious classics like fish and chips can certainly be enjoyed in moderation, you’ll want to stick to non-fried seafood more often. “Choosing grilled or blackened fish options and/or swapping fried sides for fresh vegetables is a way to reduce your total calorie and fat intake in any meal consumed away from home,” he says. Jordan Hill, MCD, RD, CSSDnutritionist at Top Nutrition Coaching.

So the next time you’re wondering which fish dish to order when dining out, take a look at this list of the worst seen on menus across America. Read on, and for more, don’t miss 10 Seafood Chains Serving the Highest Quality Fish.

The Cheesecake Factory

Per serving: 1,260 calories, 76 g fat (37 g saturated fat), 2,340 mg sodium, 105 g carbs (7 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 41 g protein

Cheesecake Factory’s Shrimp Scampi, like most shrimp scampi recipes, is far from the healthiest option to order. And that’s largely due to its high butter and oil content, which can contribute to significant calorie and saturated fat intake, says Hill. Not only that, but “this dish is made with a larger portion of pasta, adding even more to the total calorie count and typically providing excessive carbohydrates for a meal portion.” It’s best to opt for the Thai glazed salmon, which has 840 calories, 1,240 milligrams of sodium and 31 grams of fat.

RELATED: 10 Unhealthiest Menu Items at Cheesecake Factory

Olive Garden Shrimp Alfredo
Garden of Olives

Per serving: 1,473 calories, 93 g fat (55 g saturated fat), 1,620 mg sodium, 96 g carbs (4 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 63 g protein

Consider “Alfredo” basically a code word for “loaded with fat.” The rich white sauce is traditionally made with butter, cream and Parmesan cheese. Olive Garden’s Shrimp Alfredo, with 1,470 calories, “represents a major challenge for anyone looking to maintain or lose weight due to its high calorie content,” he says Marlyne Perez, RDN, LD, nutritionist at Top Nutrition Coaching. It contains 93 grams of fat, which is equivalent to almost a full day’s fat intake for some people, which can contribute to heart disease and obesity, while the 1,620 milligrams of sodium can cause high blood pressure and discomfort due to water retention, says Perez. In other words: Regularly ordering this seafood pasta could spell bad news for your health in the long run.

Red Lobster Fish and Chips
red lobster

Per serving: 1,230 calories, 65 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 2,910 mg sodium, 117 g carbs (11 g fiber, 22 g sugar), 46 g protein

This list wouldn’t be complete without a fish and chip dish, and Red Lobster’s Fish & Chips comes in at 1,230 calories, 65 grams of fat, and 2,910 milligrams of sodium. “Depending on the individual, this can be up to 50% of someone’s recommended daily intake for total calories and can be up to 100% of their recommended daily fat intake,” says Hill. The AHA recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, and at 2,910 milligrams of sodium, this meal far exceeds that. A healthier option would be a piece of unfried fish served with vegetables and complex carbohydrates (like brown rice or quinoa) instead of chips, recommends Hill.

RELATED: The #1 Unhealthiest Sandwich at 12 Major BBQ Chains

Outback Steakhouse Toowoomba Salmon
Outback Steakhouse

Per serving: 1,130 calories, 62 g fat (23 g saturated fat), 2,580 mg sodium, 71 g carbs (8 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 69 g protein

Outback Steakhouse Toowoomba Salmon, at 630 calories, may seem reasonable at first glance, but be careful: That’s the calorie count for just the piece of fish. Add a side or two and your choices can increase your meal by more than 1,000 calories, Perez points out. For example, just adding a side of Australian fries will increase your meal to 1,130 calories, 2,580 milligrams of sodium and 62 grams of total fat. Instead, pair the fish with steamed vegetables for 130 calories or asparagus (60 calories).

fish and chips

Per serving: 1,260 calories, 86 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 3,590 mg sodium, 85 g carbs (8 g fiber, 10 g sugar), 42 g protein

Although Texas Roadhouse is known for its steaks, it’s essential to be aware of the less obvious options on the menu, especially when it comes to seafood, says Perez. Among the offerings, Texas Roadhouse’s Fish and Chips (which is only available at select locations) stands out as a sodium, fat, and calorie bomb, says Perez. This dish contains 3,590 milligrams of sodium, which is 50% more than the maximum recommended daily amount. And with 86 grams of fat (including tartar sauce), you’re basically ingesting more than six tablespoons of oil.

RELATED: Texas Roadhouse Vs. LongHorn Steakhouse: Which has the best Bone-in Ribeye?

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co's Forrest Seafood Feast
Bubba Gump Co. Shrimp / Caviar

1,730 calories; no other nutritional information available.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co’s Forrest’s Seafood Feast is as luxurious as chain restaurant feasts get: it comes with fish and chips, fried shrimp, clam fry, fries, coleslaw, tartar sauce, remoulade sauce and cocktail sauce. This entire meal comes to 1,730 calories, but that’s all we know. Bubba Gump doesn’t disclose any other nutritional information, which is a red flag. “Since everything is fried, we can be sure that most of the calories come from saturated fats,” says Hill. “Saturated fats consumed in excess over time can contribute to unfavorable cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.”

Cajun Shrimp Pasta with Chili

Per serving: 1,170 calories, 57 g fat (25 g saturated fat), 3,690 mg sodium, 109 g carbs (8 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 54 g protein

Shrimp is one of the leanest sources of protein and is linked to weight loss thanks to its satiating qualities. But Cajun Pasta with Pepper Shrimp, at 1,170 calories, 57 grams of fat and 1 gram of trans fat, is far from a nutrient-dense meal that supports a healthy body composition. Even if weight loss isn’t your goal, you’ll still want to avoid this super salty seafood pasta more often. “This dish’s astonishing 3,690 milligrams of sodium exceeds total daily sodium recommendations and is concerning for anyone monitoring their blood pressure and heart health,” says Perez.

Fish and chips

Per serving: 1,470 calories, 95 g fat (21 g saturated fat), 3,200 mg sodium, 115 g carbs (10 g fiber, 21 g sugar), 42 g protein

Applebees hand-battered fish and chips may taste as good as they look, but their nutritional profile should give customers pause. “With a hefty 1,470 calories, 95 grams of fat, and a whopping 3,200 milligrams of sodium, indulging in this dish may not be the healthiest choice for those watching their diet,” says Perez. Plus, for a savory dish, we were surprised to see this fish and chips dish with 21 grams of sugar—the same amount of sugar as three-quarters of a cup of vanilla ice cream.

Taco Mac's Tropicália Fish Sandwich
Taco Mac

1,235 calories; no other nutritional information available.

Taco Mac’s Tropicália Fish Sandwich consists of fried fish served between a brioche bun and a side of fries. Total calories come in at 1,235, which for many trying to maintain weight can be 50 percent or more of their total daily calories, says Hill. But if your goal is weight loss rather than weight maintenance, that number may seem like about 60 to 80 percent of your total daily calories. Furthermore, this meal is rich in saturated fat and sodium, two nutrients that in excess can harm the heart.

RELATED: I Tried Fried Fish at 5 Chain Restaurants and One Was the Clear Winner

Joe's Crab Shack Stuffed Flounder

1,462 calories; no other nutritional information available.

Joe’s Crab Shack’s stuffed flounder is 1,462 calories, and without the macronutrients listed on the website, we know it’s probably higher in fat due to the creamy lobster sauce it’s topped with. “The word ‘creamy’ typically suggests the use of oil, butter, and high-fat dairy products,” says Hill. However, it is accompanied by rice and seasonal vegetables, which helps to provide balance. While the calorie count is relatively high for some individuals, it’s important to note that if a meal like this is eaten every once in a while, it can be part of a balanced eating pattern, reminds Hill. “A single meal doesn’t make or break someone’s weight management journey. Instead, it matters what an individual does most of the time and what habits he maintains consistently.”

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