Answering this question was a bit more challenging than the similar question about Pret.
The information for sandwiches on the subway website is given for to products prepared on 6-inch 9-grain bread to the standard recipe, but multiplying it by the factor of 2 will provide information for the footlong sub. There was no information available for BBQ and Sweet Chilli sauces, I am going to find the healthiest (least unhealthy) option from the list provided. Feel free to scroll down to see the final verdict :)
According to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, British people lack fibre in their diet, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables. There is also an enormously high intake of free sugars, saturated fats and salt. The report can be found here. Therefore, the healthiest option for an average person will aim to minimise named constituents.
Surprisingly (at least to me!), none of the subs can be considered ‘high in saturated fats’ (>5 g per 100 g of food). Even better news: 9 out of 19 subs fit into the category ‘low in saturated fats’ (<1.5 g per 100 g of food). The total intake of saturated fats should not exceed 11% of the total energy intake (approximately 24 g or 220 calories).
The healthiest options in this category are listed below (6-inch subs):
- Veggie Delite – 1 g
- Turkey Breast – 1.2 g
- Chicken Tikka – 1.3 g
American cheese scored the least in this category – 2 g.
The highest score in the category was scored by two ‘fat-free’ options:
Honey Mustard – 0 g
Sweet Onion – 0 g
Since we only have 6 options of bread to choose from, I am rating them from highest to lowest in terms of saturated fat content:
- 9-Grain Honey Oat; Hearty Italian; Italian; 9-Grain Wheat Bread – 0.5 g
- Flatbread – 1 g
- Italian Herbs & Cheese – 2.5 g
Free sugars should not exceed 5% of total energy intake a day (approximately 100 calories or 25 g). Surprisingly, again, none of the subs fits ‘High Sugar Content’ category (>22.5 g of sugar per 100 g of food) and all apart from one can be considered low in sugar (<5 g of sugars per 100 g of food). The sugar content was consistent (I suspect it all comes from the bread).
The lowest in free sugars are (6-inch subs):
- Veggie Delite – 6.7 g
- Turkey Breast – 7 g
- Spicy Italian – 7 g
None of the cheeses contains added sugar
- Little Mayo – 0 g
- Chipotle Southwest; Ranch – 1 g
Only one bread was lower in sugars compared to the others – Flatbread. However, I include the rest of the list.
- Flatbread – 2 g
- Hearty Italian; Italian; 9-Grain Wheat Bread; Italian Herbs & Cheese – 5 g
- 9-grain honey oat – 6 g
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 fibre content seems to be consistent (again, the same bread is used every time).
- Veggie Patty – 9.9 g
- Meatball Marinara – 8.7 g
- Big Beef Melt – 7.1 g
None of the cheeses contains fibre
None of the sauces contains fibre
- 9-grain Wheat Bread; 9-Grain Honey Oat – 4 g
- Hearty Italian; Italian Herbs and Cheese – 2 g
- Flatbread; Italian – 1 g
SACN advises that the intake of salt should not be more than 6 g per day (about 1¼ teaspoons). High salt intake is associated with hypertension which in turn is one of the main risk factors for the cardiovascular disease. All the sandwiches below provide a quarter or less of the maximal daily salt intake
- Veggie Delite – 0.75 g
- Chicken Breast; Chicken Tikka – 1.25 g
- Veggie Patty; Big Beef Melt; Ham; Turkey Breast and Ham; Turkey Breast; Tuna – 1.5 g
- Cheddar; Monterey Jack – 0.2 g
- American – 0.5 g
- Sweet Onion; Honey Mustard – 0 g
- Little Mayo – 1 g
- 9-grain Wheat Bread; 9-grain Honey Oat; Italian; Hearty Italian – 0.7 g
- Flatbread – 0.9 g
- Italian Herbs and Cheese – 1.2 g
Vegetable toppings were not included in any of the categories, the idea is to eat as much fruit and vegetables as you can. To get a healthier option, always have vegetables in your sub!
Judging from the results, I have chosen the healthiest combination you can get:
- Bread: 9-grain wheat bread or 9-grain honey oat
- Sub: 6-inch Veggie Delite
- Cheese: American if you aim to reduce saturated fats in your diet, Cheddar/Monterey Jack for lower salt
- Sauce: Little Mayo for low salt and sugar, Honey mustard/Sweet Onion for low saturated fats and salt
- Plus add plenty of vegetable toppings
And there you have it – the healthiest combination you can get at Subway!
P.S. Remember, that the most important thing is the balance in your diet. Check NHS pages for more information