I’m a dietitian: Here’s what to order at Olive Garden when you’re trying to eat healthy

Cancel the Tour of Italy and get rid of those unlimited sticks.

Dining at Olive Garden has been a relatively affordable favorite for more than thirty years with nearly 900 restaurants, most of us familiar with its unabashedly American-Italian menu, full of cheesy pastas. But could a meal here actually be healthy?

While bowls of creamy alfredo and bowls of chocolate lasagna may be the last thing you want to reach for while trying to eat well, The OG harbors more than a few feel-good secrets for those with the best eating behavior, experts say.

You don’t have to be in the mood to blow your diet to enjoy a night at The OG, an expert explained. M. Suhail

Toby Amidor is an award-winning dietitian; In the name of Eat This, Not That!, the best-selling cookbook author analyzed the family menu of chain restaurants, and created a list of the best-for-you, which are relative pasta dishes, making that sticking to your guns is a walk in the park. . Or, close enough.

One of the first hurdles good diners face at Olive Garden, Amidor notes, is portion size. The pasta dishes here are endlessly massive, he says, leading to a bloated calorie count no matter what. Add in all that cream, cheese, and sodium, and your diet is wearing a set of cement shoes.

Or is it? An in-depth analysis reveals that some of the restaurants’ pasta dishes are downright holy, compared to their reputation.

According to Amidor, based on total calories, saturated fat content, sodium and carb count, there are two dishes you should be looking at.

First drum please is spaghetti marinara. An obvious choice, perhaps, but it’s also downright healthy compared to its menu friends at the bottom of the list.

The restaurant's large serving of spaghetti marinara is the healthiest pasta dish on the menu.  Garden of olive trees

The restaurant’s large serving of spaghetti marinara is the healthiest pasta dish on the menu. Garden of olive trees

A dinner main course of this basic dish contains 490 calories and only 1 gram of saturated fat, or 5% of the daily recommended value, less than any other pasta on the menu. Besides a lot of salt, the only other major downside is that 68% of those calories come from carbohydrates.

To balance it out better, order grilled chicken or vegetables on the side, Amidor suggested.

And if that’s too boring to consider leaving the house, grab a boatload of this, the second healthiest pasta dish on the menu is, surprise, the Shrimp Shrimp, with just 7 grams of saturated fat and just 490 calories, in addition to energy that provides energy. 29 grams of protein.

This classic dish is made with shrimp sautéed in a garlic sauce, accompanied by asparagus, tomatoes and angel hair pasta, Amidor said.

Its second-best for you, as calories, saturated fat and even carbs are more reasonable than most other options, the pro explained.

For more excitement and definitely more protein, there's the equally virtuous Prawn Shrimp.  Garden of olive trees

For more excitement and definitely more protein, there’s the equally virtuous Prawn Shrimp. Garden of olive trees

Worst on the list was the Baked Cheese Pasta Chicken Tortollini Alfredo with Alfredo Sauce with a lot more cheese, toasted breadcrumbs and some grilled chicken.

At 1,890 calories and 76 grams of saturated fat, a dieter’s night out will be ruined by ordering this culinary catastrophe.

The calories in this dish alone are the recommended amount for an entire day! said Amidor.

It provides 380% and 162% of the recommended daily maximum for saturated fat and sodium, respectively. It’s too much in terms of portions of each of the ingredients, especially when slathered in a creamy sauce, he explained.

Pair your healthy options with some of the restaurants’ famous salads, or even a bowl of one of their healthier soups, and you’ll leave feeling full and possibly a first for Olive Garden, a little virtuous

In a previous article for Eat This, Not That!, a panel of medical professionals analyzed the rest of the restaurant’s menu, finding that minestrone was the holiest of soups, at 110 calories per serving and a measly 1 gram . of saturated fats.

Grab the salad and ditch the bread sticks, the pros suggest.  Also, a bowl of soup the right soup makes it a very complete meal.

Grab the salad and ditch the bread sticks, the pros suggest. Also, a bowl of soup the right soup makes it a very complete meal.

And what about the salad? Have it, experts say, calling it the bottom when it comes to saturated fat, and full of refreshing vegetables that help people meet their fiber needs.

But it’s not considered the healthiest on the menu, possibly because, as the article points out, you have to eat a lot of it to feel full.

Instead, the overall award goes to the herb-grilled salmon entrée, which comes in at 490 calories, 10 grams of saturated fat and 45 grams of protein.

While it’s higher in fat than other dishes on the list, it’s high in omega-3s, an essential fatty acid we can only get from our diet that supports the brain and overall health, said dietitian Amy Goodson in that moment. .

In fact, omega-3s, which are a type of polyunsaturated fat, have also been found to help with heart health, inflammation and even reduce the risk of certain cancers, he continued.

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