Cheese on steak; it's a Philadelphia tradition. But nobody ever said that it was a health food.
Steak, in and of itself, can be a calorie-dense food. At The Cheesecake Factory, the Charbroiled Flat Iron Steak with fries delivers 1,760 calories, 30 grams of saturated fat, and 3,840 mg of sodium. But when you order it with the cheese sauce, the calorie count goes up to 2,320, saturated fat goes up to 47 grams, and sodium hits 5,340 mg.
The Cheesecake Factory is far from the only restaurant to feature such cheese-on-meat options. But the authors of the CSPI report say this is becoming more common.
Ayoob said that the healthiest option in this case may be to hold the cheese -- and you might want to bring half of that steak home for good measure.
"If the cheese is an 'ingredient,' as with cheese sauces, skip it," Ayoob said. "With cheese sauce, it's a fatty food coating another fatty food, and that's not the best choice."
Joseph Brownstein contributed to this report.