The Healthiest Sandwiches – And What To Avoid

The Healthiest Sandwiches – And What To Avoid

This blog is designed to guide you through creating mouthwatering sandwiches that not only satisfy your cravings but also fuel your body with goodness. From choosing the right ingredients, wholesome bread choices and steering clear of sneaky calorie traps.

What should you look for in a healthy sandwich?

  1. Load up on vegetables like cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce, roasted peppers, grilled aubergine and courgette. Avocado is great too as it’s high in healthy monounsaturated fat which will keep you feeling full, and also a good source of potassium, folate and fibre.

 

  1. Choose healthy proteins like sliced chicken, grilled fish, or turkey, or even canned tuna or salmon. Hard-boiled eggs or natural peanut butter are also good options!

 

  1. In terms of a spread, choose hummus, mashed avocado or guacamole, or even a drizzle of olive oil, over butter or mayo.

 

  1. MY NUMBER ONE TIP IS TO MAKE IT YOURSELF – if you take a few minutes in the morning to make yourself a healthy sandwich for lunch, you can control exactly what goes into it. Generally homemade food is healthier as you avoid all sorts of additives and preservatives, you can add more vegetables and control portion sizes. Remember that takeaway portion sizes are usually larger than you’d make at home, making it easier to overeat. Open-faced sandwiches are a good choice as you only use half the bread.

 

First, Let’s Talk About Bread!

Whole Grain 

Whole grains bread keep the entire grain intact, including the germ, endosperm, and bran (which is high in fibre). Look for 100% whole-grain flours listed as the first ingredient, with a very limited amount of other ingredients.

 

Sourdough 

Sourdough generally has a lower glycaemic index (GI) so doesn’t spike blood sugar levels as much as regular bread.

Sourdough may be easier to digest than other breads. The fermentation process breaks down some of the carbohydrates and proteins found in grains, including gluten (although this doesn’t make it gluten-free).

 

White Bread

White bread offers virtually no nutritional value – it’s low in fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals.

 

Specialty-style breads, like ciabatta, focaccia and brioche

These are made with refined white flour and often have higher-fat ingredients like butter and added sugar too.

 

Here are my thoughts on some specific popular sandwich ingredients…

Butter

Butter is high in saturated fat, so should be limited, and many vegan butters are not necessarily healthier. Some plant-based spreads might contain less saturated fat than butter, but your best bet is to choose an alternative such as the following:

Choose hummus, mashed avocado or guacamole, or even a drizzle of olive oil, rather than butter.

 

Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise is fine when consumed in moderation, but it is high in calories and fat. It does contain some nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats, but it is really easy to go overboard with mayo, especially due to the high fat content.

There are low-fat mayonnaise options, but these generally contain additives to compensate for the lack of flavour. A better option is to use a healthy substitute such as olive oil and vinegar.

 

Meats – Packaged, Processed and Deli Meat

Avoid packaged meats like salami – these are high in cholesterol, sodium and saturated fat. Always choose fresh deli meat like sliced chicken, turkey or roast beef, which is minimally processed, over pre-packaged lunch meat like salami or hot dogs.

Processed meat has been classified as a ‘definite’ cause of cancer (Group 1 carcinogen), including ham, bacon, salami and frankfurts, increasing the risk of colorectal (bowel) cancer and stomach cancer. Red meat, such as beef, lamb and pork, has been classified as a Group 2A carcinogen which means it probably causes cancer.

 

Caramelised Onions

Onions themselves are low in calories and contain a whole spectrum of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins C and B6.

Whether raw, cooked or caramelised, onions are a good source of prebiotic fibre, which supports gut health. Onions are rich in antioxidants and contain a compound called quercetin, which is a polyphenol that can help stabilise the cells that release histamine in the body so it has an antihistamine effect.

Caramelising onions increases the sweetness of the onions by converting complex carbohydrates into simpler ones, including sugars. Some methods of caramelising onions will also increase the fat content.

 

Sweet Pickles

Sweet gherkins do supply a bit of nutrition, especially Vitamin K which helps your blood clot normally, but they are also quite high in sugar and sodium.

 

Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They have a particularly high concentration of antioxidants, especially lycopene. Sun-dried tomatoes are also packed full of vitamin C, with one cup providing about a quarter of the daily recommended intake (23%), and are also rich in vitamin A.

 

Tuna Mayo

Many tuna sandwiches are loaded with mayonnaise and served on highly processed bread. Your tuna sandwich is only as healthy as the ingredients you use to make it, so choose whole grain bread and fresh vegetables to combine with your tuna.

 

BLT

BLT sandwiches contains a lot of saturated fat, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Most bacon contains nitrates, which produce carcinogenic compounds called nitrosamines in the stomach, increasing the risk of cancer.

 

Ploughman’s Cheese

Cheese is a great source of protein and calcium but is often high in saturated fat and salt. This means eating too much could lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure, increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease.

 

Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Bagel

Smoked salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can support brain health, skin health and can reduce inflammation and help lower triglycerides. Smoked salmon also contains B12, vitamin A and vitamin E.

Cream cheese is a good source of vitamin A, calcium and antioxidants, and contains beneficial strains of bacteria which can support a healthy gut microbiome.

In terms of the bagel, you can get wholegrain bagels, which are higher in fibre and nutrients like B vitamins, but portion size is important – a smaller bagel will be lower in carbohydrates and calories than a large one.

 

Coronation Chicken

Coronation chicken is pieces of chicken coated in a creamy curried mayonnaise, which is high in fat. Sometimes other ingredients are added, like dried fruit and mango chutney, which are also high in sugar.

 

Prawn Mayo

Prawns are a rich source of selenium, one of the most effective antioxidants at maintaining healthy cells. They also contain high levels of zinc, which is important to develop a healthy immune system.

 

Hummus Wrap

Hummus is a great source of plant-based protein and fibre, and contains vitamins and minerals like iron, folate and magnesium.

 

Tuna and Sweetcorn

Tuna is a good source of lean protein, sweetcorn is packed with fibre which supports gut health. The problem here is the high fat content of the mayo.

 

Summary

Creating a healthy sandwich is all about smart ingredient choices. Load up on veggies, opt for lean proteins, and choose wholesome spreads to boost flavour and nutrition. By making your sandwiches at home, you have full control over what goes into them, giving your body a satisfying and nourishing meal every time.

 

If you’re interested in working together to optimise your nutrition and overall wellbeing, please get in contact via Consultations.

 

Check out my other nutrition-related blog posts below:

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