What's the healthiest sandwich I can buy from Pret a Manger?

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20 November
12:04
November
2016

To answer this question, we should start with a definition of 'the healthiest'. According to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, the British population has tremendously high intakes of added sugars, salt and saturated fats and very low intakes of fibre. There are also a couple of other issues there but I won’t concentrate on them in this answer, you can read the summary in your free time. Therefore, for the definition of a healthy sandwich, we will consider the options with the least salt, sugars, saturated fats content and the highest amount of fibre. The energy value for each sandwich can be found in the end. As a reference, I used Dietary Reference Values and the Reference Nutrient Intakes .

Quite luckily, all the nutrient information for the sandwiches is available on the Pret website, including the parameters we are looking for, so the analysis was quite straightforward.

Saturated Fats

Saturated fats in the diet, according to the national recommendations, should not exceed 11% of the total energy intake per day. With the total intake of 2000 calories, this makes it to approximately 24 g of saturated fats or 220 calories. Hence, from the Nutritional data from Pret we can take top 5 options with the lowest saturated fat content, all of which scored less than one-tenth of the recommended maximum daily intake:

  1. Free-range egg mayo - 1 g
  2. Cracking Egg Salad - 1.1 g
  3. Wild Crayfish & Rocket - 1.3 g
  4. Pole & Line Caught Tuna & Rocket - 1.6 g
  5. Cucumber and Humous on Rye - 2.0 g

Sugars

Added sugars should not be more than 5% of the total energy intake per day, approximately 100 calories or 25 grammes. Sugary foods contribute to health conditions such as tooth decay, but also may contribute to the excessive calorific intake leading to you being overweight. In this category, top five were:

  1. The Big Slim Smoked Salmon (bonus points for the oily fish!) – 1.2 g
  2. Scottish Smoked Salmon (again, fish!) – 2.5 g
  3. Free-range egg mayo – 2.6 g
  4. Ham & Cheese – 2.7 g
  5. Cucumber & Humous on Rye – 2.8

Fibre

British population lacks dietary fibre in the diet. Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recently reviewed the evidence that higher fibre intake is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer. The current guidelines recommend having 30 g of fibre a day. The highest fibre content in the Pret Sandwiches were in:

  1. Veggie New Yorker on Rye – 10.3 g
  2. Super Greens & Reds – 9.8 g
  3. Chicken Avocado – 8.5 g
  4. Pret’s Veggie Christmas Lunch – 8.1 g
  5. Avocado & Egg on Rye – 7.4 g

Salt

High salt content in the diet is associated with hypertension - one of the main risk factors for the cardiovascular disease. SACN advises that the intake of salt should not be more than 6 g per day (about 1¼ teaspoons). It is important to mention that all sandwiches at Pret had similar salt content (1-2.9 g) but the lowest were:

  1. Super Green & Reds – 1.0 g
  2. Avocado & Egg on Rye – 1.1 g
  3. Beetroot & Radish on Rye and Cucumber & Humous on Rye – 1.4 g
  4. Chicken Avocado, Cracking Egg Salad, Free-range Egg Mayo – 1.5 g
  5. Pret’s Veggie Christmas Lunch – 1.6 g

Conclusion

It's hard to pick one healthiest Pret sandwich. However, the Free-range egg mayo sandwich and Cucumber & Humous on Rye made it to the top, even though both of are slightly lower in fibre compared to other sandwiches. To ensure you have enough fibre in your diet, eat plenty of fruit and vegetables every day. Getting a fruit with your lunch might not be a bad idea after all!

Remember, the most important thing is balance in the diet, and you should always consider each food as a part of it. For more information on balanced diet check out NHS pages

P.S. For those who are interested, here are the Nutritional values with the %s of the daily reference intakes. I marked with red worst 5 in each category and green - top 5. All the values (apart from Energy) are in grammes, Energy - calories. Nutrients are given as per portion size, which varies between different sandwiches. 

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