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Calling all Costco lovers! Are you a fan of Kirkland products but want to know which ones are not the best for your health? Whether it’s added sugars, unhealthy fats, or sketchy ingredients you’re concerned about, we’ve done the research to help you make better choices. In fact, we spoke with dietitian experts to learn exactly which unhealthy Costco food products they recommend skipping next time you’re at the warehouse.
When examining a product at Costco, these were the key considerations for choosing items that were less healthy overall:
- Calories: Check the total calories per serving. If the product is especially calorie-dense and doesn’t have a balanced nutrition profile, you might find it on this list.
- Lack of fiber: Fiber promotes digestion, helps maintain a feeling of fullness, and supports overall gut health. Products without a good source of fiber or products that don’t have much fiber for the total calorie content might end up on the list below.
- Added sugars: Experts paid attention to both the total sugar and added sugar sections on the labels, while also keeping in mind that the recommended daily limit on added sugar is 25 grams for women and 36 grams for men. Items that came too close to this—and therefore didn’t allow much room throughout the day for added sugar—were put on the list.
- Sodium: Experts also kept an eye on the sodium content, particularly for those who are managing their blood pressure or have other health concerns related to sodium intake.
Get ready to shop smarter and take charge of your well-being with this guide to some of the most unhealthy Costco food items.
PER 1/16 CAKE: 420 calories, 29 g fat (18 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 330 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (1 g fiber, 27 g sugar), 6 g protein
We strongly advise against grabbing this cheesecake. It contains a whopping 18 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, and 27 grams of sugar, making it an indulgence that’s hard to justify. Save this sugary delight for a truly special occasion, and even then, try to resist the temptation to go for a second slice.
PER 1 BAR: 190 calories, 7 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 140 mg sodium, 22 g carbs (10 g fiber, 2 g sugar), 21 g protein
Jessie Hulsey RD, an Atlanta-based registered dietitian, explains why these protein bars are considered to be an unhealthy Costco food item. “While Kirkland Signature Protein Bars may seem like a convenient and nutritious snack option, it’s crucial to be aware of their ingredients. The inclusion of erythritol, a sugar alcohol, might raise some concerns. Erythritol is known to cause digestive issues in certain individuals, including stomach discomfort, bloating, and gas.”
PER 1 CUP SERVING: 440 calories, 25 g fat (11 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 720 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (4 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 25 g protein
“While lasagna can be a delicious comfort food, Kirkland Signature Italian Sausage & Beef Lasagna contains 25 grams of fat and 11 grams of saturated fat in just one serving. Excessive intake of saturated fat has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and other health issues. This lasagna dish also contains 720 milligrams of sodium per serving, which is 30% of our recommended daily value. A high sodium intake can lead to elevated blood pressure and potentially increase the risk of cardiovascular problems,” says Hulsey.
PER 1 CHOCOLATE MUFFIN: 680 calories, 36 g fat (10 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 570 mg sodium, 82 g carbs (4 g fiber, 45 g sugar), 9 g protein
“Kirkland Signature Muffins tend to be high in calories, added sugars, and unhealthy fats. These muffins are often larger in size and can contain generous amounts of sugar, refined flour, and added oils. The high sugar content can lead to weight gain and increased risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, the refined flour used in these muffins lacks the fiber and nutrients found in whole grains, further reducing their nutritional value. The added oils used in baking can be high in unhealthy fats, which can negatively impact heart health,” says Wan Na Chun, MPH, RD, CPT.
PER ⅓ PIZZA: 290 calories, 12 g fat (6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 600 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (1 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 12 g protein
“Kirkland Signature Cheese Pizza, like many commercial frozen pizzas, is often high in calories, saturated fat, sodium, and refined carbohydrates. The crust is typically made from refined white flour, which lacks the fiber and nutrients found in whole grains. The generous amount of cheese used contributes to the high saturated fat content, which can raise cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. Additionally, processed meats or excessive toppings can add sodium and unhealthy additives to the pizza. Consuming frozen pizza regularly as a significant part of the diet can lead to weight gain and an increased risk of chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems,” says Chun.
*Nutrition facts are not provided online.
Chun continues with her recommendations of unhealthy Costco food to avoid by looking into the prepared foods department. “Kirkland Signature Mac and Cheese contains high levels of saturated fat and calories. The cheese sauce in mac and cheese is made with full-fat cheese, butter, and whole milk, which contribute to the high saturated fat content. Excessive consumption of saturated fat can increase the risk of heart disease. It is also high in sodium, and excessive sodium can contribute to high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke,” says Chun.
PER 1 PIECE: 210 calories, 11 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 125 mg sodium, 27 g carbs (1 g fiber, 16 g sugar), 2 g protein
Stepping into Costco’s bakery aisle lures you in with their savory smells, and the enticing aroma of freshly baked goods instantly triggers your taste buds. However, these chocolate chip treats from Costco won’t do your health any favors and are definitely considered to be an unhealthy Costco food to avoid. Each cookie packs five grams of saturated fat and 16 grams of sugar, and it’s hard to just have one!
PER 1 BAR: 100 calories, 3 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 35 mg sodium, 18 g carbs (1 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 1 g protein
“The Kirkland Signature Granola Bars with Chocolate Chips are sweetened with corn syrup, fructose, invert sugar, and other sweeteners. Excessive consumption of added sugars can lead to weight gain and increased risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, these sweeteners can promote tooth decay and dental cavities,” Chun says.
PER ⅓ PIZZA: 310 calories, 15 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 900 mg sodium, 31 g carbs (1 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 14 g protein
“Cauliflower crust pizzas are often associated with being healthier, but this product will not deliver many health benefits. One serving alone is 900 milligrams of sodium, which is close to half the amount of recommended sodium you need in a day. It is also very high in saturated fat,” explains Brittany DeLaurentis MPH, RD, CSO.
PER CROISSANT: 300 calories, 17 g fat (11 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 330 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (1 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 6 g protein
“Kirkland Signature Butter Croissants may be budget friendly to buy in bulk, but this buttery baked good is loaded with 11 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, and only 1 gram of fiber. Consuming this high-fat item can put you at risk for heart disease,” says Joanna Ayalloore MS RD LD/N CNSC.
PER 1 BAKE (227 G): 540 calories, 19 g fat (5.99 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,370 mg sodium, 58 g carbs (2.95 g fiber, 6.99 g sugar), 35 g protein
“I would recommend leaving the Kirkland Signature Chicken Bakes behind. Each sandwich provides 540 calories, 19 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, and 1,370 milligrams of sodium. The American Heart Association recommends individuals limit their daily sodium intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams, and one chicken bake provides over half of this daily limit. For a healthier option, purchase the Kirkland Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, which can be used to make a sandwich or as a topping on a salad,” says Mandy Tyler, M.Ed., RD, CSSD, LD.