Salah: Subway can’t stand by fresh claims

For customers at the two Subway locations at Main Campus, Salah argues eating healthy isn’t an option.

Hend Salah

Hend SalahSubway is one of the most popular franchises in the entire world. The company has even set up shop on Liacouras Walk, despite another being right around the corner on the 1500 block of Cecil B. Moore Avenue.

Part of that is undoubtedly because of Subway’s claim that its customers “eat fresh.” When you really look at it, this claim is questionable at best. Arguably the healthiest sandwich at Subway is the turkey breast on wheat bread. It seems to be the option that those trying to find a healthy alternative to other fast food items go to.

But a big part of the turkey’s “freshness” is that it’s loaded with preservatives.

According to the 100 Days of Real Food website, Subway ingredients are prepackaged and full of chemical additives that are sent to stores as is. The wheat bread, for example, is made with more than 50 ingredients, including flour conditioners and refined flours, many of which are unhealthy.

Beyond just the additives that can make the food unhealthy, the “weight loss” possibility the sandwiches offer is misleading.

The turkey breast foot-long sandwich without toppings or condiments is approximately 600 calories. But Subway doesn’t charge for such extras, so the average customer puts at least one condiment and cheese on. Two slices of cheese are approximately 60 calories. If you add mayonnaise to the sandwich, that’s another 220 calories. Even the fat free honey mustard sauce is roughly 40 calories on its own. Added together, the “healthiest” sandwich comes in at almost 800 calories.

In a 2,000 calorie diet, this sandwich takes up almost half of the allowed calorie count for an entire day. To stay under that calorie limit would likely mean that many things essential for the human body cannot be consumed through diet alone. Things like nutrients, iron and vitamins needed to maintain a healthy body could be lacking.

Aside from the high-calorie count and vitamin deficiency in the sandwiches, the high level of sodium alone is extremely harmful. Using the turkey breast sandwich as an example, the sodium in a foot-long is 1,580 mg. In two slices of cheese there are 90 mg of sodium, and 140 mg in the fat free honey mustard sauce.

For a 2,000 calorie diet, the recommended daily amount of Sodium is 2,400 mg. A sandwich at Subway contributes more than half of that.

The phrase “eat fresh” could be construed to mean that the food is made in front of you, but this is also untrue. All the ingredients are already cooked, so all you really get to see is everything being slapped onto a sandwich and wrapped up on the spot. They do the same thing at any other fast food place too, McDonald’s included.

Actually, a McDonald’s Big Mac and a Subway sandwich are not worlds away from each other. While the turkey breast at Subway has approximately 1,800 mg of sodium, with condiments included, the Big Mac has  about 1,000 mg. Where the Subway sandwich has about 800 calories, the Big Mac has 550. That isn’t to say that Subway and McDonald’s have the same nutritional value, but they’re not as different as people may think.

While it is true that a Subway sandwich without the extras can be a better alternative than other fast food restaurants, it hardly constitutes as healthy. Everything added to the ingredients to make it look and taste fresh discredit its nutritional value. The high calories, lack of vitamins and obscene amounts of sodium in the sandwiches make for a meal that can harm more than it helps. Being the better option in fast food does not in any way make it a good one.

Hend Salah can be reached at

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