The Five Least Healthy Salads in America

Posted on Oct 29, 2020 by 7 Comments

Think picking the salad on the menu is a good way to cut back on fat and calories? Not always. Many of the most popular chain restaurants offer some of the worst salads you can imagine. Loaded with fat, calories, and sodium, these salads are true gut busters.

You’d be better off ordering the cheeseburger than any of these salads:

5. PF Chang’s Chicken Chopped Salad with Ginger Dressing

940 calories
68 g fat
10 g saturated fat
2225 mg sodium

Want to consume nearly all your calories in one sitting? Then dig into this salad from PF Chang’s. While the basic ingredients on this salad are not so bad, the ginger dressing packs on the fat and sodium.

4. Quizno’s Chicken with Honey Mustard Flatbread Chopped Salad

1070 calories
71g fat
13.5g saturated fat
135mg cholesterol
1770mg sodium

Chicken salad with flatbread - sounds healthy, doesn’t it? But slap on that honey mustard dressing and you’re staring at over 1000 calories. It will take awhile on the elliptical to burn this one off.

3. TGI Friday’s Pecan Crusted Chicken Salad

1360 calories

Another chicken salad that sounds like it ought to be healthy, but most definitely is not. Pecans? Not bad. Chicken? Not bad. Dried canberries? Not bad.

Sugar covered nuts and blue cheese? Very, very bad. Add to that a big portion size and you are packing on the calories with this one.

2. On the Border Grande Taco Salad with Taco Beef and Smoked Chipotle Vinaigrette Dressing

1,680 calories
121 g fat
40 g saturated fat
2,660 mg sodium

This salad is anything but light. Last year Men’s Health magazine called this the Worst Salad in America, and it’s easy to see why. This salad is equivalent to eating 11 - yes, 11 - Fresco Tacos from Taco Bell.

1. California Pizza Kitchen Thai Crunch Salad

2115 calories

Shredded Napa cabbage, chilled-grilled chicken breast, julienne cucumbers - doesn’t sound bad, does it? But once you throw in the peanuts, crispy wontons, crispy rice sticks and peanut dressing you’re going to be consuming a whopping 2,115 calories - nearly double what a woman should be eating in an entire day. The moral? If it says “crispy” keep it off your salad.

So if you’re trying to eat healthfully how do you navigate the salad minefield?

  • Order your dressing on the side and use it sparingly. In many of the salads listed above, the dressing is the main culprit in the nutritional disaster.
  • Don’t order any salad that comes with a fried topping. While chicken might sound like a healthy option, it’s going to be loaded with fat and calories if it’s been fried before landing on your lettuce.
  • Avoid anything that comes in an edible bowl. Just remember: edible bowl = fat and lots of it.
  • Watch your portions. Part of what makes some of these salads so bad for you is the sheer volume of the food. Don’t feel like you have to finish your plate, even it it has salad on it.

Note: all nutritional information was taken directly from the restaurants online menus or from Fitness Magazine.

Posted in: Food, Health

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  • Dani

    OMG! I might as well eat a burger and fries!!!

  • CBR

    Wait… women should be eating less than 1,100 calories a day?! That doesn’t sound right.

  • admin

    Your caloric intake depends greatly on your height, weight, age, and whether you are trying to lose weight. At the lower end, if you are an average sized woman trying to lose one pound a week without exercise you should be keeping your daily calories roughly under 1150. has a useful tool to calculate how many calories you should be eating for your height and weight here:

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  • Silke

    Since I quit smoking a couple of weeks ago I gained 5 pounds, so I’m trying to eat a little healthier. For lunch I had a mixed green salad with grilled chicken, dried craisans, almond slivers, blue cheese and a little poppy seed dressing sprinkled over the whole thing (oh, and I almost forgot the warm bread stick). While I was eating this lovely salad at a favorite local dinner I wondered if this truly is any better for my diet than a regular sandwich. I’ll have to check the nutrition guide you added in the comments. Thanks.

  • Kate

    @Silke YES, do look it all up. I recently ate a Double Double (oh, what heaven) and realized that the total caloric intact was comparable to some salads. Seriously. AND, get this, some restaurants in California are posting the calories next to menu items and you’d be shocked. Shocked, I say.