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The Unhealthiest Pasta Dishes At The Cheesecake Factory – Daily Meal

The Cheesecake Factory isn’t exactly known for its healthy menu options. Instead, the chain restaurant has become synonymous with overly large menus of indulgent eats from all over the world, followed up by equally expansive menus of decadent desserts. On that main menu, you’ll find an array of fan-favorite pasta dishes that have spurred the creation of a multitude of Cheesecake Factory copycat recipes. However, just because a pasta dish is a quick favorite, that doesn’t mean it’s always going to be the best option on the menu for your particular health needs or concerns.
While no one is expecting pasta to be the epitome of healthy eating, if you’re watching your cholesterol, trans fat, sodium, or sugar, you might want to steer clear of a few specific items on the Cheesecake Factory pasta menu. Some dishes are worse than others when it comes to these concerns, so they might be best relegated to special occasion meals than enjoyed during your weekly pilgrimage to the restaurant. Here’s what you need to know.

You won’t find The Cheesecake Factory’s Pasta Napoletana at every location, but, where you do, it’s known as one of the least healthy pasta options on the menu. Pasta is covered in a rich and hearty sauce filled with Italian sausage, pepperonis, house-made meatballs, bacon, and a smattering of vegetables. This combination has resulted in the dish landing on multiple “worst Cheesecake Factory menu items” lists, including one from Eat This, Not That, which points out that the dish contains more than double the daily amount of recommended sodium for adults, or about the equivalent of more than 33 bags of Lay’s potato chips.
Beyond the high sodium, the Pasta Napoletana is listed in the restaurant’s nutrition guide as having the highest overall total fat (177 grams), as well as having 4.5 grams of trans fat. As Mayo Clinic points out, trans fat is known to raise bad cholesterol while lowering good cholesterol, which increases your risk of heart disease.

While The Cheesecake Factory’s Pasta Napoletana may contain a lot of sodium, it’s still not the pasta dish on the menu with the highest overall sodium content. That distinction belongs to the restaurant’s Pasta with Shrimp and Sausage, which, according to the restaurant’s nutrition guide, contains a whopping 6,930 milligrams of sodium.
The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health explains that to reduce the risk of chronic heart disease and high blood pressure, teenagers and adults should eat less than 2,300 milligrams of salt per day — or about one-third a serving of The Cheesecake Factory’s Pasta with Shrimp and Sausage. To put this amount of sodium into perspective, Harvard further breaks down how many milligrams of sodium are in a teaspoon of salt. According to its findings, there’s about the equivalent of 3teaspoons of table salt in a serving of the restaurant’s Pasta with Shrimp and Sausage.

Fettucine Alfredo with Chicken is a classic and The Cheesecake Factory makes its generous servings of the dish with a rich and creamy parmesan sauce and a sprinkling of parsley. However, if you’re looking for the healthiest option on a menu, you’d be wise to avoid any alfredo-based dishes in general, as the “creamy sauce loads your pasta with fat and extra calories.”
As the restaurant’s nutrition guide details, this dish features the highest amount of saturated fat out of all the pasta options, measuring in at 85 grams. While saturated fat isn’t the worst type of fat you could consume (that would be trans fat, as the Mayo Clinic explains), it’s still not something you should eat in excess. As the National Library of Medicine notes, saturated fat can increase the risk of heart disease. If you’re following a 2,000-calorie diet, you should keep your daily saturated fat consumption to no more than 22 grams per day.

Spicy and southern-inspired, it’s easy to see why The Cheesecake Factory’s Louisiana Chicken Pasta is a staple on the menu. The dish features a mix of peppers, onions, and mushrooms in its sauce and comes with chicken fried in a parmesan-based crust. However, the Louisiana Chicken Pasta is fourth on the pasta menu for trans fat, right after the Pasta Napoletana and both the regular Fettuccine Alfredo and the Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken, landing it on lists for both the unhealthiest menu items at The Cheesecake Factory and the items you should absolutely never order from Cheesecake Factory.
The restaurant’s nutrition guide shows that the Louisiana Chicken Pasta contains 4 grams of trans fat. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of trans fat you consume as much as possible to reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. In fact, trans fat is so dangerous that some countries, like Denmark and Switzerland, have placed severe mandates around serving foods laden with this type of fat to the public.

If you’re attempting to cut back on trans fat, you might want to forgo the Louisiana Chicken Pasta on the Cheesecake Factory menu and, instead, opt for the similarly spicy and southern-inspired Cajun Jambalaya Pasta. According to the restaurant’s nutrition guide, this pasta only includes 1.5 grams of trans fat, which you may find far more palatable.
However, this particular pasta dish — which features a bed of linguini topped with a Cajun sauce, onions, peppers, tomatoes, shrimp, and chicken — has more cholesterol than any other pasta item on the restaurant’s menu, coming in at 735 milligrams. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does explain that not all cholesterol is bad for your health; however, foods that are high in cholesterol will typically also raise your cholesterol, which can cause the buildup of plaque in your blood vessels — potentially leading to a heart attack or other cardiovascular issues.

When looking for a healthy pasta item on a restaurant menu, you might think that spaghetti and meatballs are relatively benign. After all, while the pasta may be a little carb-heavy, the sauce is usually mostly just tomatoes and herbs, right? Where could things go wrong?
Well, if you’re dining at The Cheesecake Factory, you may want to think twice about ordering the Spaghetti and Meatballs if you’re trying to limit your sugar intake, as it has more sugar than any other pasta dish on the menu, according to the nutrition guide. There are 34 grams of sugar in each serving of the dish — that’s the equivalent of more than 9 teaspoons of sugar, according to the Mayo Clinic. Adults following a 2,000-calorie diet are advised to keep their sugar intake to less than 48 grams daily per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans; the American Heart Association, on the other hand, recommends an upper limit of 24 grams for women and 36 grams for men. Not watching added sugars can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, tooth decay, overall poor nutrition, and the health concerns that follow.

One way to cut back on undesirable ingredients that could impact your individual health concerns is by simply eating foods in smaller portions, which is why many diners look to the kids’ menu. Oftentimes, you can find the same great foods on the kids’ menu that are on a regular entrée menu. However, if you’re concerned about picking the healthiest dishes you can eat at The Cheesecake Factory, steer clear of the Kids’ Macaroni and Cheese.
The restaurant’s nutrition guide lists the kids’ meal as including 1,160 calories, 79 grams of fat, 3 grams of trans fat, and 2,040 milligrams of sodium. That’s nearly the entire amount of sodium recommended for adults per day, let alone children (via Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health). For comparison, if you wanted to stick to around the same amount of calories, fat, and trans fat, but actually get an adult-sized portion of pasta, you could simply order the regular Chicken and Broccoli Pasta, which includes 1,220 calories, 57 grams of fat, and 1 gram of trans fat. For an adult-sized portion of pasta with a similar amount of sodium, you could likewise order the lowest-sodium pasta option on the adult menu, the Pasta da Vinci, with its 2,390 milligrams of sodium, 1,560 calories, 84 grams of fat, and 2 grams of trans fat.

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