The truth about so-called healthy sandwiches and salads…caveat emptor!

CAfe NEros

Lunch items from Pret a Manger, Caffè Nero, Marks & Spencer and Asda among those found by Which? to contain high levels of fat and sugar.

No surprise at all to me – I have been advising not to eat any packaged and processed foods at all if you wish to remain healthy…

Supposedly healthy lunchtime sandwiches and salads from supermarkets and high street coffee shops can contain more calories and fat than burgers and pizza, consumer group Which? has warned.

At a time when many people are trying to make healthier eating choices, new analysis by the organisation has found that some sandwiches, pastas and salads have high levels of fat, sugar and salt, for example because of the addition of mayonnaise-based dressings. Just one tablespoon (around 15g) of mayonnaise contains 101 calories and 11g of fat.

Researchers carried out a nutritional analysis of popular lunchtime foods and identified the eight worst offenders, which included items from Caffè Nero, Pret a Manger, Marks & Spencer and Asda. Caffè Nero’s brie and bacon panini was highlighted as having more calories (624) than a McDonald’s quarter-pounder with cheese (518). The bacon and brie also make the panini high in fat (24.1g), saturates (12g) and salt (3.2g), while caramelised onions add to the sugar content (15.8g). A typical adult – based on a 60kg woman doing an average amount of exercise – is advised not to consume more than 70g of total fat per day, 90g of sugars or 6g of salt.

Three of the sandwiches identified by Which? contain the equivalent of more than three teaspoons of sugar, including Pret’s posh cheddar and pickle sandwich on artisan bread which has 17.6g of sugar and nearly half an adult’s RDA of saturated fat. Meanwhile, a chicken and smoked bacon salad sandwich on soft multigrain farmhouse bread from Marks & Spencer contains 694 calories and 37.1g of fat – more than a Pizza Express margherita pizza (683 calories, 22.5g fat).

Asda’s creamy piri-piri chicken pasta salad (290g) contains two-thirds of an adult’s recommended daily fat intake (46.5g) and has more fat than Burger King’s bacon and cheese Whopper. The pasta packaging specifies that it contains three servings, but Which? said it was more likely that someone would eat this at lunch by themselves.

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Asda said: “Our piri-piri salad is sold within our coleslaw section and is intended to be eaten as a side to a main course, not as an individual lunch option. We sell lots of healthy lunch options within our Food to Go area, including new good & balanced wraps and flatbread salads, which are all created around the Eat Well plate and are nutritionally balanced.”

But Which? executive director Richard Lloyd warned: “People will be surprised to find some foods that many of us perceive to be a healthier choice are no better than a burger. We want all manufacturers to adopt traffic-light nutrition labelling and restaurants to display information about calorie content of food, so consumers can see exactly what products contain.”

Which? added that while the calorie content of some sandwiches alone might not be excessive, if shoppers opt for a “meal deal” by adding a packet of crisps and a juice, their lunch could easily total around 1,000 calories and come loaded with 40g of both sugar and fat.

Source: Rebecca Smithers, The Guardain

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