The health attributes of sandwiches may vary, but perhaps people should consider what’s between the bread, instead of the bread itself, for such differences, according to results of a “Building-A-Better-Sandwich” study funded by the Grain Foods Foundation. The ingredients inside a sandwich are the most significant drivers of calories, fat and sodium, according to the study.

The study was presented at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ 2017 Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo in Chicago in October. The study also will be submitted to a scientific, peer-reviewed journal for publication.

Yanni Papanikolaou
Yanni Papanikolaou, vice-president of Nutritional Strategies

“Americans can pointedly and positively impact their consumption of calories, fat and sodium by making more deliberate decisions about sandwich ingredients,” said Yanni Papanikolaou, the study’s author and vice-president of Nutritional Strategies, Inc., Toronto. “Many health professionals mistakenly encourage consumers to skip the bread when trying to improve diets. However, this study demonstrates that by building a better sandwich on either whole grain or enriched grain bread, American children and adolescents can take in fewer calories, fat and sodium than they typically consume in sandwiches now.”

The study, a modeling analysis, assessed the energy and nutrients contributed from all sandwiches in the U.S. diets of children and adolescents. It used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) as well as U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Patterns to assess how Americans eat.




The study found 54% of the sandwiches eaten are burgers, cold cuts and hot dogs/sausages, which are all sandwiches with ingredients that are rich in saturated fat, sodium and calories. Two slices of bacon, about 50 grams, contain about 20 grams of fat, including 7 grams of saturated fat, 320 mg of sodium and 200 calories. One hamburger bun, about 47 grams, contains 1.5 grams of fat without any grams of saturated fat, 240 mg of sodium and 130 calories.

Bread also delivers nutrients, as shown in a study published in August in the journal Nutrients. All grain foods contributed less than 15% of all calories in the total diet, according to the study, while delivering greater than 20% of the nutrients dietary fiber, folate and iron.

“These data show that grain foods are the foods we love that love us back,” Mr. Papanikolaou said. “Finally, we can enjoy bread again.”