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Desperately seeking sandwiches.

Every morning, millions of brown-baggers stare into their open refrigerators, hoping for inspiration.

Every lunch hour, millions of hungry office workers stand in line at their local sandwich shops, praying for something new on the menu board.

The typical American sandwich selection is not only boring-it's largely unhealthy. Time-pressed, nutrition-conscious consumers can always get by with whole grain cereal for breakfast. Dinner can always be a baked potato, salad, and (pick one) chicken or fish.

But lunch-on-the-run is a challenge.

Should you pass up the deli meats for the tuna or chicken salad, or will their mounds of mayonnaise mean a million new fat cells for your belly?

Should you try sliced turkey or ham, or will their sodium send your blood pressure soaring?

These questions puzzle millions of Americans every day, but no one's ever answered them. So we took the plunge.

First, we estimated what you get in the usual menu items at your local sandwich shop.

Then we created some new sandwiches (see page 12).


Buy a Quarter Pounder at any McDonald's and you can rest assured it's always the same. Not so for sandwiches.

What you get when you order a ham-and-cheese, chicken salad, or BLT depends not only on the ingredients, but on how much the person behind the counter slaps on the bread.

So we did some assuming. We used the U.S. Department of Agriculture's recipes for generic tuna, egg, chicken, add shrimp salad. Each includes ingredients like mayonnaise, celery, salt, onion, or relish.

True, your local luncheonette may use a little more of this or a little less of that. For example, some use a salad dressing like Miracle Whip instead of mayo, which could cut the fat by about a third.

But none is likely to use nonfat mayo or only egg whites, which would drastically cut the fat. So our ingredient estimates are probably close to the mark.

Quantity estimates are trickier. We weighed sandwiches from several popular Washington lunch joints. Even we were surprised by the results.


You know those sandwiches that dietitians talk about? The ones with two slices of ham or cheese? Forget them.

The average sandwich filling we found weighed in at a hunky five ounces--that's about two-thirds of a cup for the mayo-based salads or about an inch-high-at-the-center stack of meat. The only exceptions were BLTs and grilled cheese, whose fillings (just the bacon or cheese) averaged about two ounces.

Just to be conservative--after all, we didn't do a nation-wide survey--we cut the serving size to four ounces. Even then, the fat and saturated fat went through the roof.

A sandwich made of two slices of bread plus four ounces of ham and cheese, salami, pastrami, or bologna all had more saturated fat than a McDonald's Quarter Pounder. They're all red meat, so that may not surprise you.

But cheese is also loaded with saturated fat. Eat a grilled cheese or Swiss cheese and you might as well swallow two Quarter Pounders (urp!).

The egg salad or the bagel with cream cheese has almost as much saturated fat as a Quarter Pounder (more, if the layer of cream cheese tops two tablespoons). And don't forget its 500 calories. Now you're in Big Mac territory.


Some sandwich shops automatically smear mayonnaise on the bread unless you remind (and remind) them not to. We figure they wipe a tablespoon across each slice. That'll cost you an extra 22 grams of fat and 200 calories.

Still hungry?

You're better off with legume sandwiches like peanut-butter-and-jelly or hummus and falafel (which are made from chick peas plus fat-laden tahini or frying oiD. At least they aren't brimming with saturated fat. Likewise for the shrimp salad and tuna salad.

The only way to limit all fats is to stick to mayo-less sliced turkey breast. Chicken or turkey roll aren't quite as good. They'll keep your sandwich at about 30 percent of calories from fat. Ham will put it just over 30.

But those fillings have another problem.


Mayo-less turkey breast is low in fat, but unless the meat is cut from a fresh-cooked bird, you could use up almost your entire daily sodium limit in one sandwich. (And that's without the mustard.)

We say "could" because sodium levels vary. Your local luncheonette could have twice--or half--as much. If you're brown-bagging it, you could opt for Weaver Turkey Breast, and cut the sodium in half (though four ounces still have 904 mg).

Part of the problem--for all sandwiches--is that two slices of ordinary breads start at about 250 to 350 mg of sodium. Add the salt in tuna, processed poultry or meat, and the pickles that give egg, chicken, and tuna salad their crunch, and you're batting a thousand.


Remember that advice from the National Cancer Institute to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables and 20 to 30 grams of fiber each day? Choosing whole wheat bread or pita will double your fiber from about two to four grams. That helps a little.

But you'd need a whole lot of lettuce or tomato slices to equal even one serving of vegetables. True, you can have a salad on the side. But wouldn't it be easier to have the vegetables right in the sandwich? To build a better sandwich:

* Order extra slices of bread, and divide the filling into two or three sandwiches. (Save the extra for tomorrow.)

* Fill up a pita bread with vegetables from a salad bar. Add a tablespoon of tuna or chicken salad instead of salad dressing.

Information for this article was collected by Lorraine Jones and by CSPI intern Elaine Chu.

The Sandwich Board

Our "Best Bites" have no more than eight grams of fat, three grams of saturated fat, and 700 mg of sodium per sandwich. Since so few sandwiches meet those criteria, we have given six others "Honorable Mentions." "Worst Bites" have at least 30 grams of fat or 10 grams of saturated fat.

Sandwiches have generally been ranked from least to most saturated fat. The serving size is usually 4 oz. of filling (1/2 cup) on 2 slices of whole wheat bread. The number of slices or pieces in 4 oz. is in parentheses following the name of each sandwich. Our sandwiches are in color. You'll find their recipes on page 12..
Sandwiches Calories Fat Fat Sodium
 (g) (g) (mg)
6% to 11% of calories from fat
* Horseradish Supreme (1 cup) 166 0.8 2 390
* Veggie Pockets (1 cup) 184 0.8 2 399
* Pizzazzy Pinto 223 0.8 2 639
* Black Beauty 255 0.8 3 552
* Turkey breast, unprocessed (5) 293 1.1 3 419
15% to 20% of calories from fat
Oscar Mayer Baked Ham (5) n T 245 1.3 4 1,545
* Chickpea Heaven 258 1.3 5 494
* Sort-of-Egg Salad 219 1.3 5 605
Turkey breast (5) n 265 1.4 4 1,982
*** Weaver Turkey Breast (6) 260 na 4 1,176
29% to 35% of calories from fat
*** Hummus 334 2.2 12 637
*** Shrimp salad 317 2.4 13 595
*** Tuna salad, w/salad dressing 352 2.5 13 816
Turkey ham (4) n 285 2.7 8 1,489
*** Turkey roll (4) n 307 3.1 10 915
*** Chicken roll (4) n 320 3.1 11 1,022
Peanut butter and jelly (2 oz.) 430 3.6 16 520
36% to 52% of calories from fat
Falafel (3) 518 3.5 22 694
Tuna salad w/mayo 395 3.7 19 842
Sandwiches Calories Fat Fat Sodium
 (g) (g) (mg)
Chicken salad 400 4.3 22 541
Ham (4) n 346 4.6 14 1,853
Hot dog (1) n 259 5.3 15 745
Bagel w/cream cheese (2 Tb.) 300 6.5 12 329
Roast beef (3) 420 6.9 18 724
Corned beef (4) n 425 8.0 24 1,646
McDonald's Quarter Pounder (1) 410 8.1 21 660
Ham and cheese (3 oz. ham
 and 1 oz. Swiss) n 403 8.7 19 1,553
53% to 67% of calories from fat
** Egg salad (1 cup) 503 7.4 37 773
Pastrami (4) n 412 9.6 28 1,982
** Salami(5)n 423 10.0 25 1,568
** BLT (2 oz. bacon) n 475 10.7 30 1,270
** Grilled American cheese(2 oz.) 453 14.2 31 1,303
** Bologna, beef (4) n 494 14.5 35 1,472
** Swiss cheese (4) 566 21.0 33 655
Mustard (2 tsp) 10 0 0 126
Pickle chips (4) 20 0 0 202
Salad dressing (2 Tb.) 120 1.4 10 214
Mayonnaise (2 Tb.) 200 3.4 22 160
American cheese (2 slices) 159 8.4 13 608

* = Best Bite ** = Worst Bite ***= Honorable Mention n = contains nitrites na = not available T = produced by a tobacco-company subsidiary

Sources: USDA and manufacturers. * The use of information from this article for commercial purposes is prohibited without written permission from CSPI.


Here are three spreads that you can quickly turn into great sandwiches. Place the rinsed beans in a bowl and mash to a pulp with a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix to make a uniform spread. Serve on whole wheat bread or in a pita pocket. Add sliced tomato, onion, or cucumber.
 Chick Pea Heaven
1 16-oz. can chick peas,
 drained and rinsed
2 Tb. light mayonnaise
1 small tomato, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/8 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 - 1 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 - 1/4 tsp. turineric
2 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
4 whole wheat pita pockets
or 8 slices of whole wheat
 Serves 4.
 PER SERVING---1/2 cup (4 oz.)
spread in 1 whole wheat pita
Calories: 338 Sodium: 455 mg
Protein: 15 grams Fat: 5 grams
Carb: 63 grams (12% of calories)
 Black Beauty
1 15-oz. can black beans,
drained and rinsed
2 tsp. plain non-fat yogurt
1/2 small green hot chili pep
-per, seeded and minced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp. chili powder
3 whole wheat pita pockets
or 6 slices of whole wheat bread
 Serves 3.
 PER SERVING--1/2 cup (4 oz.)
spread in 1 whole wheat pita
Calories: 335 Sodium: 513 mg
Protein: 18 grams Fat: 2 grams
Carb: 64 grams (6% of calories)
 Pizzazzy Pinto
1 15-oz. can pinto beans,
drained and rinsed
1/4 cup mild salsa
1/4 cup green pepper, diced
2 Tb. scallions, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp. lemon Juice
4 whole wheat plta pockets
or 8 slices of whole wheat bread
 Serves 4.
 PER SERVING---1/2 cup (4 oz.)
spread in 1 whole wheat pita
Calories: 303 Sodium: 600 mg
Protein: 16 grams Fat: 2 grams
Carb: 60 grams (596 of calories)
1 1/3 cups raw spinach, packed
1 1/3 cups tomato slices
1 1/3 cups sliced mushrooms
4 Tb. prepared horseradish
(brands with a touch of sugar are less harsh)
4 whole wheat pita pockets
or 8 slices of whole wheat bread
 For each sandwich, spread
one tablespoon of the horse
-radish in the pita or between
two slices of whole wheat bread.
 Stuff with one-quarter of
the spinach, tomatoes, and
 Serves 4.
 PER SERVING--1 cup veggies in
1 whole wheat pita
Calories: 246 Sodium: 351 mg
Protein: 11 grams Fat: 2 grams
Carb: 51 grams (5% of calories)
6 eggs
1 lb. light mayonnaise
1 tsp. D(ton mustard
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
2 tsp. fresh dill, chopped
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 whole wheat pita pockets
or 4 slices of whole wheat bread
 Boil the eggs for 5 minutes.
Run them under cold water and
peel. Separate the whites from
the yolks and discard the yolks.
Chop the whites, combine
them with the other
ingredients, and serve on whole ,wheat
bread or in pita pockets.
 Serves 2.
 PER SERWNG--1/2 cup (4 oz.) of
egg salad in 1 whole wheat pita
Calories: 299 Sodium: 566 mg
Protein: 19 grams Fat: 4 grams
Carb: 48 grams (13% of calories)
1/2 cup non-fat yogurt
1 Tb. lemon juice
1/8-1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 cups of any combination of
grated carrots, thinly sliced
radishes, thinly sliced fresh
mushrooms, sweet peppers
in strips, and alfalfa sprouts
4 whole wheat pita pockets
 Stir together the dressing in
-gredients. Arrange a quarter of
the vegetables in each pita. Top
them with 2 tablespoons of the
 Serves 4.
 PER SERVING---1 cup of veggies
and 2 To. of dressing in 1 whole
wheat pita
Calories: 264 Sodium: 360 mg
Protein: 12 grams Fat: 2 grams
Carb: 54 grams (5% of calories)
 These recipes were created by CSPI
recipe tester John Pollard.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Center for Science in the Public Interest
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Brand Name Comparison; nutritional aspects of sandwich ingredients
Author:Hurley, Jayne
Publication:Nutrition Action Healthletter
Date:Sep 1, 1992
Previous Article:Food & mood.
Next Article:Antioxidants and cancer.

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