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10 Foods that Are Health Horrors

Dietitians name their top nutritional nightmares.
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Some foods are so bad for you, they qualify as a nutritionist's nightmare.

WebMD asked several registered dietitians and other food experts to nominate their favorite "food horrors". Their submissions ranged from empty-calorie foods masquerading as nutritious, to outlandish concoctions that tip the scales with obscene amounts of fat and calories. Have any of them ever lurked around your plate?

1. Frightful Fried Foods

From a nutritional standpoint, some of the scariest foods are the deep-fat fried concoctions you can find at carnivals and state fairs.

Americans have tossed everything from turkeys to Twinkies in the fryer, but have you ever heard of deep-fried cola? Debuting at the Texas state fair -- and winning the creativity honor at the Big Tex Choice Awards contest -- was this deep-fried, Coca-Cola flavored batter, drizzled with cola fountain syrup, and topped with whipped cream, cinnamon sugar and a cherry.

2. Scary Steakhouse Specialty

Nutritional nightmares are readily available at many of your favorite neighborhood restaurants. Christine Palumbo, RD, nominated the deep-fried onion appetizer popular at some chain steakhouses.

One such appetizer, Outback Steakhouse's Bloomin' Onion, has more than 800 calories, 58 grams of fat and 22 grams of saturated fat, plus 1,520 milligrams of sodium. These numbers don't include the dipping sauce, which is also loaded with fat, calories, and sodium.

3. Monstrously Misleading

Marion Nestle, PhD, MPH, a New York University nutrition professor and author of What to Eat, takes issue with not-very-nutritious foods that are labeled or advertised with healthy-sounding terms. She nominates "kids' fruit snacks that have no fruit whatsoever and are basically candy in disguise" as one potentially misleading food.

4. Big, Bigger, Biggest Burgers

There appears to be no end to the amount of calories and fat you can fit onto a bun.

Hardee's has the Monster Thickburger, boasting 1,420 calories, 107 grams (g) of fat, 45 g of saturated fat, and 2,740 milligrams (mg) of sodium. Carl's Jr. takes it a step further with the Double Six Burger, featuring two burger patties and three slices of cheese -- weighing in at 1,520 calories, 111 g fat, 47 g saturated fat, and 2,760 mg sodium.

Burger King is not far behind with its BK Stacker, loaded with four burgers, four slices of cheese, and 8 strips of bacon, coming in at 1,000 calories, 30 g saturated fat, and 1,800 mg sodium.

And the list doesn't end at fast-food chains. Ever hear of the "Hamdog"? This culinary creation from the former Mulligan's Tavern near Atlanta starts with a hot dog padded with cheese and half pound of ground beef. That's dropped in the fryer, then loaded onto a hoagie roll and topped with chili, bacon, onions and a fried egg. Mulligan's was also famous as the home of the "Luther Burger," a giant bacon cheeseburger with a Krispy Kreme doughnut for a bun.

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