Best and Worst Foods in America

Foods that lead to or away from obesity

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) It’s usually easier to choose what to eat when you know exactly what’s good or bad for you. So to help, experts have compiled a list of some of the worst and best foods in America.

Most healthy people need around 2000 calories per day, 20 grams of saturated fat, and around 1500 milligrams of sodium (salt). Exceeding these limits can lead to obesity and its associated problems. Many of these items listed as being the worst in America are reaching the limits for the daily total recommended amount per day.

"Fresh foods are healthier for you."

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is a strong supporter of healthy eating, food safety and safe alcohol policies. For more than 40 years, CSPI had been working to protect the public, while improving and influencing nutrition related policies.

Here’s what CSPI researchers consider to be the top 10 best and worst foods in all of America:

Top 10 Worst Foods:

  1. Marie Callender’s Chicken Pot Pie – 1,040 calories (half of what you need per day), 22 grams of saturated fat (more than recommended amount per day), and 1,600 mg of sodium (more than recommended amount per day).
  2. Olive Garden’s Tour of Italy – consists of homemade lasagna, lightly breaded chicken parmigiana, and creamy fettucine alfredo. The entire meal has 1,450 calories, 33 grams of saturated fat, and 3,830 mg of sodium. Eating a salad and breadstick make this entire meal a whole day’s worth of calories and four times the amount of sodium needed.
  3. Campbell’s Condensed Soup – The calories and saturated fat are not completely absurd, but the average amount of sodium is around 850 mg for one cup of these soups – that’s more than half the amount you need per day.
  4. Chipotle Chicken Burrito with rice, pinto beans, cheese, sour cream and salsa – This one burrito has a whopping 970 calories, 18 grams of saturated fat, and 2,200 mg of sodium.
  5. Cheesecake Factory’s Chocolate Tower Truffle Cake – The gorgeous six inch high cake has 1,670 calories, and 48 grams of saturated fat – which is more than double the amount of saturated fat you need in a day.
  6. Pillsbury Grands Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll with icing – each roll has 310 calories, 2 grams of saturated fat, and 2.5 grams of trans fat! Trans fat is really bad because it raises LDL “bad” cholesterol and lowers HDL “good” cholesterol.
  7. Land O’ Lakes Margarine box – each tablespoon of margarine contains 2.5 grams of trans fat and 2 grams of saturated fat. Other margarine sticks that contain trans fat include: Blue Bonnet, Parkay, Country Crock, Fleischmann’s and Imperial. Tubs of margarine is better because it usually has little or no trans fat.
  8. Starbucks Venti (20 oz.) White Chocolate Mocha with 2% milk and whipped cream – This drink alone is worse than a Quarter Pounder with cheese from McDonald’s. It has 580 calories and15 grams of saturated fat. Reduce some calories by asking for nonfat milk and no whipped cream.
  9. Haagen-Dazs ice cream – half a cup of this creamy delight has half the saturated fat, a third of the cholesterol you need in a day and 300 calories.
  10. Cold Stone Creamery’s Oh Fudge! Shake with chocolate ice cream, milk, and fudge syrup – This shake starts at 1,250 calories for the 16 ounce “Like It” size, and the calories keep on rising for the larger sizes. The largest “Gotta Have It” 24 ounce cup has 1,920 calories and 69 grams of saturated fat.

Top 10 Best Foods:

  1. Sweet Potatoes – Jam packed with carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. To make it tastier you can mix unsweetened applesauce or crushed pineapples.
  2. Mangoes – One cup of mangoes provides three quarters of the vitamin C needed per day. It also provides vitamin A, potassium, and three grams of fiber. Mangoes are fruits that are least likely to have pesticide residue.
  3. Unsweetened yogurt – contains more protein, potassium, calcium, zinc, and vitamins B6 and B12 than already sweetened yogurts. Just add your own fruits and cereals to make it extra delicious.
  4. Broccoli – contains vitamin C, carotenoids and folic acid/folate.
  5. Wild salmon – contains heart healthy omega-3 fats. Wild caught salmon has less polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contaminants than farmed salmon. PCBs can cause hormonal imbalances, reproductive failures and even cancer.
  6. Whole grain rye crackers – from brands like Wasa, Ry Krisp, and Ryvita. These healthy crackers have tons of fiber and are usually fat-free!
  7. Garbanzo beans – Beans in general are rich in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Garbanzo beans are especially noteworthy because they can be added to almost anything! Mix them in with your salad, stew, currie or many other dishes.
  8. Watermelon – For two cups of watermelon you get a third of your daily recommended values of vitamin A and C, and a good amount of potassium, while only ingesting 85 calories – with no salt or fat at all!
  9. Butternut squash – an easy to cook vegetable – just steam or throw it into an oven or stir fry along with other veggies. This squash has tons of vitamins A and C and fiber.
  10. Leafy greens – like kale, collards, spinach, turnip greens, mustard greens, and swiss chard. Leafy greens are packed with vitamins A, C, K and folate, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, lutein, and fiber. Best to go organic with these, if you can, because the leaves soak up whatever is sprayed on them.

Try and stay away from restaurant foods and stick with fresh fruits and vegetables!

This is published in Nutrition Action Health Letter.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 25, 2011
Last Updated:
July 26, 2011