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In spite of the name, French fries are practically an American birthright. They’re offered as the first choice side dish with nearly every fast-food and sit-down chain meal available. But here’s the catch: In a recent study of 7,318 New York City patrons leaving fast food chains during the lunch hour, researchers learned that combo meals—meaning meals with sides—averaged 1,100 calories each, which is over half a day’s allotment. It goes to show: When your regular meals at these restaurants are already pushing the nutritional envelope, adding an extra 300 (or more!) empty calories can make for a dietary disaster.

The authors of the best-selling weight-loss series Eat This, Not That! and Cook This, Not That! have rounded up three of the worst orders of fries available at chain restaurants across the country. We’ve also offered up the surprising winner of the fast food French fry cook-off—you’ll never believe which restaurant chain produces the healthiest fried spuds!

Worst Curly Fries

Arby’s Curly Fries (Large)

640 calories

34 g fat (5 g saturated, 0 g trans)

1,460 mg sodium

Arby’s is famous for its curly fries—too bad they’re overloaded with fat, calories and sodium. When one side dish accounts for nearly three-quarters of your daily allotment of salt, you know there’s a problem. As fun as these curli-Qs are, stick to the Homefry variety at Arby’s—downsizing to a small Curly Fries will still leave you with a 410-calorie side, which is more than many of Arby’s sandwiches!

Bonus tip: For full nutrition information for all of your favorite chain restaurants and thousands of foods, download the bestselling Eat This, Not That! iPhone app. It’s like having your own personal nutritionist in your pocket at all times, and will help you avoid the caloric calamities and guide you to the best ways to lose your belly fast.

Eat This Instead!

Homestyle Fries (Small)

350 calories

15 g fat (2 g saturated)

720 mg sodium

Worst Wedge Fries

Jack in the Box Bacon Cheddar Wedges

715 calories

45 g fat (13 g saturated, 1 g trans)

905 mg sodium

It doesn’t take a nutritionist to identify the hazards of a grease-soaked, cheese-slathered sack of deep-fried potatoes, but by appearance alone, nobody could guess what’s really at stake when you order this side from Jack’s. The American Heart Association recommends that people cap their trans fat intake at 1 percent of total calories. For people on a 2,000-calorie diet, that’s about 2 grams per day. See the problem? Another issue, of course, is the overload in calories—about one-third your daily allotment!

Bonus tip: Cheese fries are clearly an unhealthy choice. But sometimes healthy-seeming options are just as dangerous as the obvious diet-sinkers. For 30 jaw-dropping examples, check out The 30 Worst Sandwiches in America.

Eat This Instead!

Grilled Chicken Strips (4) with Fire Roasted Salsa

185 calories

2 g fat (0.5 g saturated)

805 mg sodium

Worst Fries for Your Blood Pressure

Dairy Queen Chili Cheese Fries

1,240 calories

71 g fat (28 g saturated, 0.5 g trans)

2,550 milligrams sodium

This one’s a no-brainer: Chili, cheese, fried potatoes. But even a savvy eater couldn’t possibly anticipate how bad these 3 ingredients could be when combined by one heavy-handed fast-food company. There’s as much sodium in this side dish as you’ll find in 15 strips of bacon. Stick with classic ketchup and recapture nearly a day’s worth of sodium and 930 calories.

Bonus tip: Save calories, time, and money with our free Eat This, Not That! newsletter. Sign up today and you’ll get the Eat This, Not That! guide to shopping once and eating for a week for free!

Eat This Instead!

French Fries (regular)

310 calories

13 g fat (2 g saturated)

640 mg sodium

Worst Regular Order of Fries

Five Guys Fries (large)

1,464 calories

71 g fat (14 g saturated)

213 mg sodium

Unfortunately, Five Guys doesn’t offer anything but fries in the side department. Your safest bet, of course, is to skip the fries altogether (you’d be better off adding a second patty to your burger), but if you can’t bring yourself to eat a burger sans fries, then split a regular order. That will still add 310 calories to your meal, but it beats surrendering more than 75% of your day’s calories to a greasy paper bag.

Bonus tip: Sides account for a third of our combo-meal calories—but drinks account for a quarter of the total calories we consume each day! Battle the liquid bulge: Avoid all drinks on this shocking list of The Worst Drinks in the Supermarket.

Eat This Instead!

Regular Fries (1/2 serving)

310 calories

15 g fat (3 g saturated)

45 mg sodium

Worst Fries in America

Chili’s Texas Cheese Fries w/Jalapeno Ranch

1,920 calories

147 g fat (63 g saturated)

3,580 mg sodium

The only thing that comes close to redeeming this cheesy mound of lard and grease is the fact that it’s ostensibly meant to be shared with a few friends. Even so, you’ll collectively be taking in an entire day’s worth of calories, three days’ allotment of saturated fat, and a day and a half’s allotment of sodium. What’s even scarier, if you can imagine, is that even if you try to order more sensibly and ask for the “half” order of Texas Cheese Fries, you’ll still receive a disastrous dish that packs in 1,400 calories. There’s one French fries side dish at Chili’s that’s acceptable, although even in its much-reduced form, you’d be better off splitting it.

Bonus Tip: See what other Chili’s items made our list of The 20 Worst Restaurant Foods in America.

Eat This Instead!

Homestyle Fries

380 calories

23 g fat (4 g saturated)

230 mg sodium

Best Fast Food Fries in America

McDonald’s Small French Fries

230 calories

11 g fat (1.5 g saturated)

160 mg sodium

Out of the big three fast food joints (Mickey D’s, Wendy’s, and BK), you’ll find the least caloric, least salty fries underneath the golden arches. The key to ordering a smart side dish is portion sizing—and McDonald’s has that under control.