This seemingly healthy meal choice could be throwing off your diet

Making a sandwichScott Barbour/ GettyIt’s important to pay attention to what’s actually going onto your sandwich.

Sandwiches can make for a pretty quick and easy meal. They may even seem healthy.
But, according to a study done by researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, sandwiches might not be that healthy a choice after all.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most popular sandwiches in America are burgers and sandwiches made up of cold cuts and poultry. Generally, these types of sandwiches aren’t really very healthy because they are high in calories, sodium, fat, and sugar.

So, for this study, the researchers wanted to determine just how much unhealthier it would be to eat a sandwich on a daily basis. So, they compared the caloric intake of individuals over two consecutive days: on the first day, the participants ate a sandwich, on the next, they could choose their own meals. The researchers then compared the caloric differences between when participants ate a sandwich and when they did not.

Their results were not too surprising: Eating a sandwich caused the participants to consume, on average, about 100 more calories than when they ate something else. In addition, on days when they ate a sandwich, they tended to eat less fruits and vegetables (both staples of a healthy diet) while at the same time consuming more sodium, fat, saturated fats, and sugar.

Ruopeng An, one of the co-authors of the study, thinks that the problem arises from the fact that people don’t actually know how many calories are in their sandwiches.

For example, another study from 2013 found that Subway customers thought their sandwiches contained around 500 calories less than what they actually did.

“Sandwich consumers are advised to prudently evaluate the calorie and nutrient content of sandwiches in order to make informed and more healthful dietary choices,” said An.

So do you have to give up sandwiches entirely if you want to be healthy? Of course not! Here are some tips to be able to have your sandwich and eat it too on a more healthy basis:

  • Try choosing fresh slices of meat instead of preserved cold cuts. This will cut down on the amount of fats and sodium in your meal.
  • Try not to add too much cheese, dressings or spreads to your sandwich
  • Bump up the amount of fruits or vegetables in the sandwich. This will cut back on the calories and add more fibre and nutrients to your sandwich and your diet.
  • Try to avoid white breads, as these break down into simple sugars when they are digested. Consider making your sandwich on whole wheat bread next time.

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