Are sandwiches ruining your diet?

Are sandwiches ruining your diet?

Whether it’s a turkey club, corned beef on rye or tuna salad on wheat, on any given day, over half of U.S. adults eat a sandwich. But are sandwiches a healthy choice? And when it comes to your overall diet, how does a sandwich stack up? A study out of the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana investigated the common lunchtime choice.

The researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2012 that included 27,075 adults, ages 18 and over. Of those who reported eating a sandwich, nearly a quarter of their daily total calorie intake and about a third of their total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium intake came from sandwich consumption.

They also found that on the days when people ate sandwiches, they consumed an extra 99 calories, 7 grams of fat, 268 grams of sodium and 3 grams of sugar, on average, compared to the days when they didn’t eat sandwiches.

“You need to be thoughtful when you are constructing your sandwich,” says Sandra Gifford, a registered dietitian at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. “We hear a lot about reducing fat in our diets, but the amount of sodium that can be hiding in your sandwich will probably surprise you.”

According to the American Heart Association, too much sodium can increase your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Gifford offers the following tips for making your sandwich healthier:

  • Use real turkey breast or chicken instead of deli meat.
  • Read the label on the bread package. The American Heart Association considers bread to be one of the “salty six” popular foods that can add high levels of sodium to your diet.
  • Trade the American cheese out for natural Swiss or at least choose a natural cheese over processed.
  • Skip the mayo, or if you must, use sparingly.
  • Think about what you are eating with your sandwich. If it is chips, consider fresh fruit or carrots instead.

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About the Author

Lynn Hutley
Lynn Hutley

Lynn Hutley, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital in central Illinois. Having grown up in a family-owned drug store, it is no surprise that Lynn has spent almost 18 years working in the health care industry. She has a degree in human resources management from Illinois State University and is always ready to tackle Trivia Night.