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'I’m a doctor – these are the best and worst sandwiches for your health'

Sandwiches are an easy go-to lunch that many of us in the UK enjoy on a regular basis. Famously invented in the 18th century by the Earl of Sandwich who innovatively asked for a slice of beef between two slices of bread while playing cards, it has stood the test of time.

Something that makes them particularly beloved is their versatility – anyone can pick their favourite type of filling. This also means they can come in varying levels of healthiness, depending on what type of bread you use and what you decide to put between them.

According to one doctor, some of the most popular sandwich ingredients can be less healthy than we might think.

Speaking exclusively with Express.co.uk, Doctor Deborah Lee – from the Dr Fox Online Pharmacy, shared the best and worst types of sandwich we could be eating.

One survey from 2022, found that the UK favourite sandwich is a cheese ploughman’s made of white bread, cheese, ham, pickle and lettuce.

This is one to be wary of if you’re trying to cut back on your calories, Dr Lee said. She explained: “Unfortunately, this does not have the hallmarks of a healthy sandwich! For a start, it’s a whopping 404 calories.

“If you add in a pack of crisps (153 calories) and a can of Coke (139 calories) this means your lunch is 696 calories!”

But what are the best and worst types of sandwiches out there for our health?

Best sandwich

According to Dr Lee, the healthiest sandwich is one made of wholegrain bread, with a lean protein filling such as chicken, turkey or fish, and a healthy spread such as hummus or avocado.

“Adding salad leaves, tomato or cucumber increases the vitamin and mineral content,” she said.

“Ideally, you make this sandwich yourself from scratch with good quality ingredients.”

For the bread she recommended either a sourdough which contains prebiotics and is great for gut health or a rye or wholemeal bread for their fibre content.

She continued: “We should all be eating 30 grams of fibre a day, so eating high-fibre bread helps us reach the goal.

“Fibre is essential to ensure food passes through the intestines at the correct speed, to lower cholesterol and prevent constipation.”

Worst sandwich

Unsurprisingly she warned that the worst sandwich is a shop-bought sandwich, “especially if it’s past its sell-by or use-by date”.

Dr Lee said: “Sandwiches can be high in fat, sugar and salt. For example, they often use high-fat mayonnaise-type dressings. Shop-bought bread is often high in sugar and salt.

“Some shop sandwiches are higher in calories than a McDonald’s quarter-pound burger! For example, an M&S chicken and smoked bacon salad sandwich contains 694 calories which is more than a Pizza Express Margherita pizza (683 calories!).

“If you have to buy a sandwich, always read the label carefully.”

If you’re making a sandwich at home she advised against using mass produced white bread, high-fat, high-salt or processed food fillings and mayonnaise due to its fat content.

She shared the following advice to eat healthier sandwiches:

  • You can make your sandwich healthier by making it yourself from scratch
  • Changing to brown, whole grain bread – make sure it is made with high quality, whole grain bread flour, low in salt and doesn’t contain emulsifiers or preservatives
  • Leaving out butter and using a low fat vegetable spread, hummus, pesto or smashed avocado instead
  • Using lean meat, or a non-meat filling such as hard boiled egg or tuna. Avoid shop-bought ready-made sandwich fillings
  • Adding some salad – lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and spring onion.


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