If you’re trying to watch your salt intake, you might be wondering what you can eat at Olive Garden – well, here are the answers. We’ve found the low sodium options at Olive Garden – but, also dug a bit deeper and found the lowest sodium choices for some different types of diet too – so, if you’re also watching calories, fat, or sugar as part of an all-round health kick, or don’t eat meat or gluten for whatever reason, we know exactly what you should order.
Stock Image: Not Olive Garden
The Absolutely Lowest Sodium Dish at Olive Garden
The lowest sodium meal at Olive Garden is the Shrimp Scampi which combines sauteed shrimp in garlic sauce and veggies on a bed of angel hair pasta. This has 960mg of sodium.
Of course, when it comes to Olive Garden, your meal doesn’t come solo -and so, you need to account for the extra sodium that might come from the side dishes that you pick.
Your first choice is to decide between soup or salad – and, not surprisingly, the lowest sodium choice is the salad.
Soup is commonly one of the biggest contributors to salt in our diets – and eating at Olive Garden is no exception – even the lowest sodium choice, the Pasta Fagioli has 710mg.
Pick the Salad Without Dressing instead and you’ll only add another 250mg of sodium – plus, you’ll take in some potassium which is always a good choice when you’re trying to regulate your salt levels.
Each meal also comes with two breadsticks – the plain version of these have 280mg of sodium each, the garlic ones have 460mg – so, you’re adding between 560-920mg sodium to your meal if you add two. Ideally, skip them, or, at least just have one.
Remember, the American Heart Association suggests no more than 2300mg of sodium per day for the general population, and closer to 1500mg for those with high blood pressure.
8 Other Lower Sodium Options
If you don’t feel like shrimp, there are eight other low-sodium meals at Olive Garden. Admittedly, we have to use the phrase ‘low’ in context with the menu as a whole as, like many restaurants, sodium levels at Olive Garden do skew on the high side so be careful with your menu for the rest of the day.
|Main Course||Sodium Level|
|Spaghetti with Meat Sauce||1020mg|
|Spagehtti with Meat Sauce||1050mg|
|Create Your Own Pasta – Meat Sauce||1050mg|
|Create Your Own Pasta – Creamy Mushroom Sauce||1100mg|
|Fettucine Alfredo (no broccoli)||1210mg|
|Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce||1290mg|
|Create Your Own Pasta – Marinara Sauce||1290mg|
|Five Cheese Marinara||1310mg|
The Lowest Sodium Appetizer at Olive Garden
You’re probably best to skip the appetizers as they are all pretty high in salt – but, if you really want one, your best option is a Plain Breadstick which has 280mg of sodium.
If you’re sharing with others, and they’re hankering for a dip with the sticks, the lowest sodium choice is the Alfredo – but it still has 600mg per portion so, dip sparingly!
The Lowest Sodium Option if You’re Counting Calories
It’s the same as the absolute lowest sodium option – the yummy-looking Shrimp Scampi which has just 510 calories a portion – that’s actually really healthy.
However don’t forget that Olive Garden meals come served with sides so, you need to add calories and sodium for those too.
Sticking with our best choice of salad without dressing and you’ll only add another 70 calories
The breadsticks if you do choose them have 130 calories each.
If you’re eating with other folk watching their calories, but not so worried about sodium have a look at our guide to the lowest calorie choices in Olive Garden.
The Lowest Sodium and Fat Choice
Here we’re going to concern ourselves only with saturated fat – as that’s the type of fat we should be cutting back on, and, the main meal in Olive Garden with the lowest sodium AND saturated fat is that Shrimp Scampi again – but, it’s not the only good choice.
You could also pick from the Create Your Own Pasta – with Meat Sauce which has 1050mg of sodium and just 7g of saturated fat, or the Herb-Grilled Salmon Coho (if it’s available in your region) which has 1020mg of sodium and 9g of saturated fat.
Another good option that has a little bit more sodium, but very low saturated fat, is the Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce which has 1290g of sodium but just 1g of saturated fat.
The Lowest Sugar and Sodium Choice
Increasingly experts are realizing that added sugars are not great for our health so, if you’re trying to keep both sugar and salt low, what should you pick in Olive Garden?
The answer is the Herb-Grilled Salmon Coho – if it’s available in your region. This has just 1020mg of salt and just 2g of added sugar.
If that’s not available where you live though, the next best option for you is our old friend the Shrimp Scampi which has just 5g of sugar alongside 960mg of sodium
The Lowest Sodium Vegetarian Option
If you don’t eat meat, then the lowest sodium option for you on the Olive Garden Vegetarian menu is the Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce – or the Create Your Own Pasta version which allows you to swap the Spaghetti for Angel Hair pasta or Rigatoni.
All of these types of pasta in Olive Garden contain just 10mg of sodium per portion so, choose any of these options and you’re looking at 1290mg of sodium – without side dishes.
The Marinara is also classed as vegan at Olive Garden so, that’s the best choice for vegans too.
The Lowest Sodium Gluten-Sensitive Option
Now, the bad news is that Olive Garden’s Gluten Free Rotini does contain a lot more sodium than their gluten-containing pasta – it has 260mg as opposed to just 10mg in the types of pasta with gluten. This means that all of the numbers for pasta dishes are higher in sodium for those avoiding gluten than those who consume it.
Your best option, therefore, is the Herb-Grilled Salmon Coho – if it’s available in your region.
Otherwise, though your lowest sodium choice is the Rotini Pasta with Meat Sauce which has 1300mg of sodium.
Do note though, Olive Garden describes their menu as Gluten-Sensitive, not Gluten-Free. To see more about what this means and eating gluten-free in Olive Garden, see our dedicated post discussing what you need to know.
If your favourite isn’t listed here, then you’ll find all the information about sodium at Olive Garden in their nutritional information here.
Who is The Wellness Nerd?
My name is Helen Foster and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.