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Olive Garden has many signature dishes, but it’s perhaps most famous for its breadsticks. The Italian food restaurant chain won over fans with its unlimited breadsticks deal, even as some investors criticized the policy for being wasteful.

From a nutritional perspective, the health benefits of these breadsticks are questionable. Each individual breadstick, and its garlic-butter spread, contains 140 calories, 25g of carbs and 460mg of sodium. While that may not seem like a lot, we all know how easy it is for one breadstick to turn into two or five.


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Regardless, the breadsticks are far from the restaurant’s most caloric items. Using information from Olive Garden, HealthGrove, a health research site powered by Graphiq, set out to find the 25 most caloric items on the menu. In the event of a tie, menu items with more sodium are ranked higher. Of course, calories aren’t the only factor that determines a food item’s nutritional value. To provide more context, we also list each menu item’s total fat, sodium and carbs.

Unsurprisingly, many of the top items on this list contain cream-based sauces, such as carbonara or Alfredo. Perhaps more surprising is how frequently chicken-based dishes appear on the list. While it’s true that chicken is normally a healthier alternative to beef or pork, when it’s doused in cheese sauce and fried, the health benefits start to disappear.

*Note: Dinner portions are used for items that appear on both the lunch and dinner menus. This list does not consider all seasonal or limited time only items.

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25. Zeppoli

  • Calories: 810
  • Fat: 28 grams
  • Sodium: 510 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 119 grams

24. Ravioli di Portobello

  • Calories: 820
  • Fat: 46 grams
  • Sodium: 1,150 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 73 grams

23. Fried Mozzarella

  • Calories: 860
  • Fat: 59 grams
  • Sodium: 1,870 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 48 grams

22. Cheese Ravioli with Meat Sauce

  • Calories: 860
  • Fat: 46 grams
  • Sodium: 2,190 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 65 grams

21. Classic Calamari Appetizer

  • Calories: 870
  • Fat: 56 grams
  • Sodium: 2,400 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 67 grams

20. Black Tie Mousse Cake

  • Calories: 880
  • Fat: 54 grams
  • Sodium: 290 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 89 grams

19. Lasagna Classico

  • Calories: 930
  • Fat: 53 grams
  • Sodium: 2,070 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 56 grams

18. Asiago Garlic Alfredo Sauce

  • Calories: 940
  • Fat: 91 grams
  • Sodium: 1,320 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 14 grams

17. Stuffed Chicken Marsala

  • Calories: 950
  • Fat: 58 grams
  • Sodium: 1,950 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 33 grams

16. Chicken Marsala

  • Calories: 970
  • Fat: 43 grams
  • Sodium: 1,910 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 71 grams

15. Fettuccine Alfredo

  • Calories: 1,010
  • Fat: 56 grams
  • Sodium: 850 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 97 grams

14. Sausage Stuffed Giant Rigatoni

  • Calories: 1,020
  • Fat: 60 grams
  • Sodium: 2,740 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 58 grams

13. Eggplant Parmagiana

  • Calories: 1,060
  • Fat: 54 grams
  • Sodium: 1,990 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 113 grams

12. Chicken Parmigiana

  • Calories: 1,060
  • Fat: 52 grams
  • Sodium: 2,980 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 86 grams

11. Lasagna Fritta

  • Calories: 1,070
  • Fat: 71 grams
  • Sodium: 1,650 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 73 grams

10. Braised Beef and Tortelloni

  • Calories: 1,120
  • Fat: 58 grams
  • Sodium: 2,370 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 83 grams

9. Shrimp Alfredo

  • Calories: 1,150
  • Fat: 69 grams
  • Sodium: 1,490 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 92 grams

8. Five Cheese Ziti al Forno

  • Calories: 1,220
  • Fat: 71 grams
  • Sodium: 2,160 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 103 grams

7. Chicken Scampi

  • Calories: 1,260
  • Fat: 72 grams
  • Sodium: 1,990 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 105 grams

6. Lobster Ravioli

  • Calories: 1,300
  • Fat: 88 grams
  • Sodium: 2,780 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 79 grams

5. Steak Gorgonzola-Alfredo

  • Calories: 1,380
  • Fat: 85 grams
  • Sodium: 2,810 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 88 grams

4. Northern Tour of Italy

  • Calories: 1,420
  • Fat: 82 grams
  • Sodium: 2,570 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 108 grams

3. Chicken Alfredo

  • Calories: 1,480
  • Fat: 94 grams
  • Sodium: 1,480 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 95 grams

2. Tour of Italy

  • Calories: 1,520
  • Fat: 96 grams
  • Sodium: 3,250 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 92 grams

1. Chicken and Shrimp Carbonara

  • Calories: 1,590
  • Fat: 114 grams
  • Sodium: 2,410 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates: 78 grams

[graphiq id=”bD49feVbLYF” title=”Olive Garden” width=”500″ height=”685″ url=”https://w.graphiq.com/w/bD49feVbLYF” link=”https://www.graphiq.com” link_text=”Visualization by Graphiq” ]

Alex Greer, HealthGrove |
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