How Healthy Are Your Favourite Sandwiches Actually?
The Debrief: Mayo is the worst. Like the absolute worst.
The humble sandwich gets a bit of a bad (w)rap these days. Since the whole world’s gone gluten-free (or so it seems), people seem to be scared of bread. But, as we found out when we talked to dietician Kirsten Crothers from The Food Treatment Clinic, sandwiches can actually be a damn good meal choice; as long as you stick to some simple rules....
Mayonnaise is the worst
‘Avoid anything with mayonnaise in. It’s so high in fat, even the low-fat mayonnaise. It’s just total avoidance needed.’
Protein’s a great shout
‘It’s good to go with something that’s got some sort of protein in it. So things like chicken or fish are a good shout, but bacon is a lot higher in fat for the same amount of meat. That means it’s higher in calories. Go for leaner meats. Tuna would be great, so would chicken or turkey. Veggie-wise look for things like pulses, hummus, anything like that would be really good.’
Be bread smart
‘Avoid white bread because it burns up so quickly. Whereas if you get wholemeal bread it takes longer to digest so it keeps you fuller for longer and it’s also got more fibre in. I know that’s really boring but just a wholegrain type is the best idea.’
Don’t be a mega muncher
‘Some packaged sandwiches have three slices instead of two. So avoid the triple – you’ll be taking three times the amount of what you actually need.’
Sauces are naughty
‘Avoid sauces – ketchup, and the like – they’re often really high in salt and sugar. Your bread’s always going to have a little bit of salt in it, it’s part of the recipe, so you don’t need extras.’
Calories aren’t the be all and end all
‘I wouldn’t look at the calories. If you do, I’d aim for about 500 calories for a sandwich. It sounds like a lot but actually it’s a meal and 500 calories is absolutely fine. Avocados are high in calories so they’re high in fat but it’s good fat so it keeps you fuller for longer. So even though avocados have more calories, it means you’re not going to have to snack on cakes and things in the afternoon. Avocadoes are also good for your skin and your hair and stuff as well.’
Give yourself a balance
‘Basically, try and make it so you’ve got something starchy – that would be your bread; a bit of fat – that would be something like your avocado; and then your protein – so either your fish, your pulses and then also some vegetables – the more the better really. Sandwiches are not bad at all it’s just what people put on them.
‘Bread gets a really bad rap but it fills you up for ages and it’s low in calories for the amount of food you’re eating. Everyone says, ‘Oh I’m avoiding bread’ but I just think it’s a load of rubbish to be honest! It’s only bad when they start putting loads of butter, mayonnaise and jam on it – that’s when it becomes a problem.’
Have a go at making your own sandwich
‘Making a sandwich at home is always better because you know exactly what’s in it and you can control it. A few tips are maybe put fillings in a separate box so you don’t have a soggy sandwich at lunch – that puts people off a lot . It’s also a lot cheaper and if anyone is into making their own bread you can make the salt content a bit lower because there isn’t really any low-salt bread.’
So, how do your favourite high street sarnies measure up to Kirsten’s rules?
Pret’s Chicken And Avocado
It’s on wholegrain bread, it’s got chicken for protein AND good fats like avocado and comes in at 482 calories so that’s just under Kirsten’s recommendation. Plus at 2 grams of salt that’s a third of your NHS recommended daily intake. Sounds like a winner, chaps.
Tesco Sausage And Onion Sandwich
Yes, it might be delicious but it’s on white bread! The meat is high in fat! It’s got mayonnaise mustard on it! There’s no veggies either. Hot damn, this is a mess of a sandwich. At least it’s only 446 calories, although the white bread means those calories aren’t going to keep you full for very long.
Waitrose Good to Go Tuna Mayonnaise and Sweetcorn Sandwich
Tuna? Goooood. Wholemeal bread? Goooooood. Sweetcorn? Good. The problem then lies in the mayo; it’s the secret agent secretly taking your sandwich from superstar to wanker. It’s got 13.4 grams of fat, most of which is bad fat. Watch out for the 1.3 grams of salt, too.
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