The Nutritional Reason You May Want To Avoid Cracker Barrel Mac And Cheese

Cracker Barrel mac and cheese
Cracker Barrel mac and cheese - Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

Although Cracker Barrel offers many beloved downhome side dishes, the mac and cheese is an undeniable favorite among diners. While definitely delicious, this dish is a veritable sodium bomb, which means it's not the most nutritious option at the chain. Consider that a regular side of mac and cheese serves up a whopping 700 mg of sodium, while the kids' portion features an even more substantial amount at 1,410 mg. The chain's Buttermilk Buffalo Ranch mac and cheese is the worst of all when it comes to sodium, as it contains 3,810 mg.

According to the American Heart Association, adults should ideally limit their sodium consumption to less than 1,500 mg per day and should under no circumstances consume more than 2,300 mg on a daily basis. One portion of Cracker Barrel's Buttermilk Buffalo Ranch mac and cheese would put a person well above that limit, and even exceeds the average intake of sodium, which is calculated to be 3,400 mg. A high sodium intake can harm a person's health in numerous ways, which is why fans of Cracker Barrel should proceed with caution when it comes to the restaurant's mac and cheese.

Read more: Why You Need To Seek Out These Food Experiences Before You Die

How Excess Sodium Affects A Person's Health

salt shaker on its side
salt shaker on its side - Art-4-art/Getty Images

Sodium does support essential health functions like ensuring that minerals and fluids maintain the right balance in the body. Sodium is also a powerful preservative, as it allows food to remain fresher for longer by deterring bacterial growth. Despite these positive attributes, an excess of salt contributes to a person's disease risk in numerous ways and can cause some serious medical conditions as a result.

Excess salt consumption can negatively impact heart health while adversely affecting kidney function. Too much sodium is also associated with an increased risk of stomach cancer. It can even affect the health of your bones by depleting calcium. Low calcium levels in the body increase the chance of osteoporosis, which is a condition where a person loses more bone tissue than they regenerate.

Based on these factors, guests at Cracker Barrel should carefully consider whether the mac and cheese is the best possible option when it comes to sides. Fortunately, the southern-style chain offers many other side dishes that have a much lower concentration of sodium.

Nutritious Side Dishes To Consider When Dining At Cracker Barrel

Cracker Barrel storefront
Cracker Barrel storefront - Eric Glenn/Shutterstock

If diners are considering some alternatives to the mac and cheese, Cracker Barrel features lots of hearty and nutrient-rich vegetable side dishes, including sweet whole baby carrots. Along with being tasty, this dish only contains 140 mg of sodium, which is substantially lower than the salt content of the restaurant's mac and cheese. Steamed broccoli is another extremely wholesome option, as it only contains 10 mg of sodium per serving.

If you want something a little more substantial without the high concentration of salt, the chain's mashed potatoes are an excellent choice with just 170 mg. The hashbrown casserole is slightly higher at 350 mg per serving, but it's still well under the regular serving of mac and cheese. While food offers essential nutrients to the body, it should also be enjoyed. Along with making healthy choices when eating at Cracker Barrel, it's okay to enjoy dishes like mac and cheese in moderation to satisfy your taste buds.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.