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The 5 Worst Items at Carl's Jr.

Fitday Editor
In the fifth part of our 10-part series on eating at chain restaurants, we take a look at Carl's Jr. Check out part two, where we examine KFC.

Carl's Jr. began in 1941 as a hot-dog cart and now has over 1,200 restaurants featuring a wide variety of quick-service menu items, many of which are not in-line with healthy eating habits.

Let's be honest; the majority of fast food is not, by any stretch of our imaginations, healthy. It is highly-processed, and loaded with unnecessarily high amounts of salt, saturated fat and empty calories.

Yet there are times when eating at a fast food restaurant, like Carl's Jr., is your only option. Maybe you're running late to an appointment and need a quick bite to eat, or on the road and hungry, with nary a health-food store in sight.

In such cases, it's important to know what to order and what to avoid. Here are the top five worst menu items at Carl's Jr. along with a healthier option for each.

DON'T EAT: Breakfast Burger

This breakfast behemoth, loaded with a char-grilled beef patty, egg omelet, bacon, cheese, Hash-Brown Nuggets and ketchup in a sesame topped bun has a whopping 820 calories, 43 grams of fat and 1,480 milligrams of sodium.

INSTEAD EAT: The Sourdough Breakfast Sandwich is a lighter option that has Canadian bacon and an egg omelet on sourdough bread. Skip the cheese and this breakfast option will be 370 calories, 15 grams of fat and 830 milligrams of sodium.

DON'T EAT: Guacamole Bacon $6 Thickburger

This hefty burger features an Angus-beef patty with bacon, guacamole, Pepperjack cheese, Santa Fe sauce, lettuce, tomato and onions on their trademarked Fresh Baked Bun. A true diet-bomb, it has an astounding 1,070 calories, 75 grams of fat and 2,060 milligrams of sodium.

INSTEAD EAT: The Guacamole Turkey Burger is beef burger alternative that comes with Pepperjack cheese, guacamole and tomatoes on a charbroiled turkey patty. Make this option low-carb by omitting the bun and replacing it with lettuce. You can also add sliced red onion for a crisp crunch, bringing this sandwich down to only 280 calories, 17 grams of fat and 730 milligrams of sodium.

DON'T EAT: 10-Piece Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders

Now, while this is marketed as two individual serving sizes, I know many folks are likely to eat the entire box themselves. These 10 tenders have 880 calories, 42 grams of fat and an enormous 2,580 milligrams of sodium.

INSTEAD EAT: At 390 calories, 7 grams of fat and 990 milligrams of sodium, the Charbroiled BBQ Chicken Sandwich is a much healthier option. If you just have to have chicken tenders, order their 3-Piece Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders, which have just 260 calories, 13 grams of fat and 770 milligrams of sodium, giving you the crispy-chicken fix without ruining your diet.

DON'T EAT: Crispy Chicken Salad

This menu item is served with your choice of blue cheese, house or low-fat balsamic vinaigrette dressing. The salad has 350 calories, 16 grams of fat and 810 milligrams of sodium, which may not seem that bad, but when you add dressing, it loses credibility. The blue cheese dressing alone has 320 calories, 34 grams of fat and 810 milligrams of sodium, while the house dressing has 220 calories, 22 grams of fat and 440 milligrams of sodium, making the seemingly healthy salad a not-so-healthy option after all.

INSTEAD EAT: On its own, the Original Grilled Chicken Salad has just 280 calories, 12 grams of fat and 880 milligrams of sodium. Combine the salad with the low-fat balsamic vinaigrette, and you're only adding 35 calories, 1.5 fat grams and 480 milligrams of sodium, making this choice much lighter than its crispy-counterpart.

DON'T EAT: Oreo Cookie Malt

You'd been hard-pressed to find a healthy dessert at any fast food restaurant, and that's no different at Carl's Jr. However, if you must indulge your sweet-tooth, don't order this cookie-laced malt shake, which has 780 calories, 39 grams of fat and 410 milligrams of sodium.

INSTEAD EAT: While I encourage you to skip dessert altogether and grab a piece of fruit instead, if you're going to order something sweet, the Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake has 290 calories, 16 grams of fat and 230 milligrams of sodium. Better yet, share it with a friend and cut those empty calories and fat in half.

The 5 Worst Items at KFC

Bryanne Salazar is a freelance writer and editor, a contributing author for the website What the Flicka?, and a food-meets-culture blogger living in Southern California. Her blog, Bryanne Bites the World documents her explorations of various ethnic communities and food cultures across the United States. Bryanne has a degree in English focused on creative writing, and loves to pen short stories in her spare time. She is also an advocate for women and girls worldwide, the mother of two teenage boys, and the wife of an active duty United States Marine. You can follow Bryanne on Twitter and Facebook to see what she's working on next.

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