The humble sandwich is a true cornerstone of the British diet. Considering we consume 11.5 billion of them here in the UK each year, (1) it’s safe to say they’re as popular as ever.
When it comes to nutritional value, however, sandwiches have earned themselves a bad reputation. But is this fair? Is it possible to create a healthy sandwich?
We asked DW Fitness personal trainers for their opinion, and they threw a few healthy sandwich recipes in for good measure!
Which is the healthiest type of bread?
A sandwich without bread… well it wouldn’t be a sandwich, would it? That said, it’s the bread that is largely to blame for the humble butty’s dubious reputation in health and fitness circles.
As Carly Tierney explains, the type of bread that you choose can make all the difference.
“When it comes to choosing bread, my advice is to look for 100% whole grains with a short ingredients list,” she commented.
“The first ingredient listed on the label will indicate how healthy it is. If it contains wheat flour or enriched bleached flour, this would imply that white flour was used. This should be avoided. If it contains whole wheat flour, you know it’s the healthiest choice.”
Which spreads are healthiest?
While the obvious choice would be to opt for one of the many popular low-fat spreads on the market, they may not be as healthy as you first thought.
Although low-fat alternatives to butter can help to lower cholesterol, studies have shown that using butter is no worse when it comes to combating heart disease and strokes. (2)
However, Carly has suggested that you don’t actually need either. Not if you’re able to think outside the box, at least.
“We ultimately use spreads to add moisture – so why not try homemade guacamole, hummus or greek yoghurt instead? All much healthier options.”
Which fillings should be avoided?
As high-protein alternatives to meat – such as halloumi – sweep the nation, (3) it seems that we have more choice than ever when it comes to healthy sandwich fillings.
While this trendy Cypriot cheese has clear health benefits, our experts have urged caution.
Carly continued: “Halloumi is a great source of protein. However, unlike meat and fish, it does have a high fat content, some of which is saturated.”
Meanwhile, Eddy Diget believes we shouldn’t forget ingredients from closer to home that still provide the protein source you crave.
“Halloumi may be the latest ‘new’ superfood to hit the UK, but what about the humble egg? Each of one of those contains 27g of protein – plus it’s cheaper and easier to source,” he commented.
The best healthy sandwich recipes
So now it’s time to highlight a few healthy sandwich ideas that will pack a protein punch and provide enough carbohydrates to fuel your workout without forcing you to consume a load of calories.
Carly’s Mexican fuel booster
Whole wheat bread
A mix of veggies (cucumber, onion, tomato, peppers etc.)
Cooked black beans
The health benefits:
Black beans are an under-appreciated food. Not only are they full of protein and fibre, they’re also said to ward off diseases such as cancer. (4) Avocado is a great source of those healthy fats you’ve heard so much about.
Eddy’s banana and peanut butter sandwich
Peanut butter (unsalted)
A very thin layer of honey
The health benefits:
Bananas are full of potassium, which has been tentatively linked with reducing the risk of strokes. (5) Peanut butter is another food that has grown in popularity of late, and is particularly good at breakfast time. (6) It’s a fantastic source of protein, but make sure it’s natural. Some brands cram loads of sugar into their peanut butter.
Our avocado chicken sandwich
2 tbsp of plain yoghurt with a squeeze of lemon
Handful of chicken (chopped)
1 wholemeal bagel
Handful of cherry tomatoes (chopped)
Sliced red onion
The health benefits:
This chicken sandwich recipe has a bit of everything. Lean white meat is perfect for muscle-building purposes, while avocado, as mentioned above, is also highly nutritious. They contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals and are thought to be good for your heart.(7)
Tip: Have you considered an open-top sandwich? It may sound obvious, but having an open-top sandwich allows you to cut back on the bread and focus more on the nutrient-rich fillings.