United Plates of America

We’ve all seen the countless headlines over the years suggesting American foods are particularly unhealthy but how true are those claims? We set out on a food tour of America to look at each state’s most favoured dish before breaking down the contents nutritionally to see just how bad the dishes really were. We then used our findings to create a heat map and compare how healthy each state is.

How Healthy Are America’s Favourite Foods & Which State Is The Healthiest?

how healthy is america

High Calorie State Dishes

The amount of calories in each of the state foods can vary widely. Green Chili Stew (Caldillo in Spanish) from New Mexico for example has approximately 225 calories per serving. Compare this to the likes of a New Jersey Hot Dog which come in at roughly 425 calories each (that’s minus any fries, sauces or sides that you might add) and it’s really quite a healthy option wherever you’re from!

The New Jersey Hot Dog takes the top spot when it comes to highest calories per serving size, however there are a few other state foods that give it a run for its money. Buckeyes, the state dish for Ohio comes in at 210 calories for just 3 pieces, packing a whopping 19g of sugar.

Other state dishes that aren’t going to do your waistline any favours include Chicago’s deep pan pizza, at approximately 380 calories per slice and crab cakes from Maryland, which deliver around 265 calories per serving. Again, that’s not including any sides or sauces, so those calories can easily add up if you’re not paying attention!

High Fat State Dishes

Much like calories, the amount of fat in each states favoured dish can differ greatly.

Considered a superfood by many Hawaiians, Poi is low in calories and extremely low in fats, with just 0.3g per serving. It is however a naturally high carb dish, so it’s the perfect choice if you need an energy boost.

As you might at expect, at the other end of the scale the foods that pack the most calories are also guilty of containing the most fats. However, these are beaten by some way by bratwurst and sauerkraut, the state dish for Wisconsin, which has 25g of fat per serving (one sausage and one cup of sauerkraut). Whilst sauerkraut is naturally low in fat, the fact it’s traditionally cooked in bacon and duck fat, adds a large amount of saturated fat and sodium to the dish.

High Carb State Dishes

When it comes to carbohydrates, it stands to reason that the dish with the lowest level is the one that’s most meat heavy; Chislic (effectively, red meat popsicles) from South Dakota holds this crown with zero carbs per serving.

Move over to North Dakota, and the state dish of Lefse is the polar opposite, with 85% of the dish dedicated to carbohydrates. Effectively potato pancakes, they’re only 90 calories each and low in fat, however they contain a staggering 20g of carbs.

The king of carbs (and ultimately sugar) however, is the Mississippi mud pie. The sweet treat provides us with an eye watering 49g of carbs per 100g on average, 42g of which is sugar!

So, here’s a rundown of what we found to be the top “performers” in each category:

Top 4 states whose iconic dishes contain the highest amount of calories:

  • New Jersey – Hot Dog
  • Ohio – Buckeyes
  • Illinois – Chicago Deep Pan Pizza
  • Maryland – Crab Cakes

Top 4 states whose iconic dishes contain the most fat:

  • New Jersey – Hot Dog
  • Maryland – Crab Cakes
  • Ohio – Buckeyes
  • Wisconsin – Bratwurst and Sauerkraut

Top 4 states whose iconic dishes contain the most carbs:

  • North Dakota – Lefse
  • Ohio – Buckeyes
  • Georgia – Peach Cobbler
  • Indiana – Sugar Cream Pie

What Are America’s Favourite Foods?

food tour of america

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