So, when it comes to eating out, what's the worst possible thing you can put in your mouth?
Surprisingly, it's not a burger. It's not even a heaping plate of pasta, or a sinful dessert, and it doesn't even come with fries. Really!
It's a fish platter from seafood chain Long John Silver's.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest conducted laboratory tests that revealed the restaurant's "Big Catch" platter to be what they deem the "Worst Restaurant Meal in America." In a press release, the CSPI says the meal, which is made up of fried fish, hushpuppies and onion rings, contains a hidden villian that pushes its nutritional value over the top -- trans fat.
Sure, the heaping plate of golden-fried fish 'n' stuff will set you back 1,320 calories -- which, although a lot, is sadly nowhere near some other typical restaurant offerings -- but the meal also contains what the CSPI termed an "astonishing" 33 grams of trans fat. That's the worst kind of fat, and a lot of it. Trans fats are the biggest promoters of heart disease you can find on a nutrition facts label, and in the Big Catch meal, they all come from industrially produced partially hydrogenated frying oil. Yummy!
Along with the trans fat overload, the dish also packs in 19 grams of saturated fat and 3,700 milligrams of sodium, both of which are major enemies of heart health.
So what do you get for all of this fat and salt? Not a lot of fish, according to the CSPI. Long John Silver's boasts the meal contains the "largest fish we have ever offered," or about 7-8 ounces of premium haddock. When the CSPI removed the thick fried batter coating, however, they found the fish itself weighed in at a measly 4.5 ounces, nearly swallowed by the 3 ounces of trans-fatty batter.
We could get into the issues with the onion rings, but let's just all assume no one's eating them for the onions.
There have been many legislative battles over the use of trans fats and hydrogenated oils in prepared foods, because, well, those fats and oil are really, really bad for you. The CSPI is hoping their findings can change the way such ingredients are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
"It is extremely important to understand that the partially hydrogentated oil in Long John Silver's meals, other restaurant foods, and packaged foods are contributing to thousands of death annually," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson in the release.
Great. Now we're not even hungry anymore.