Many people assume your average deli will always be healthier than any burger joint. With all the greasy fast food options, you probably assume Subway is a refreshing alternative. Surely a double cheeseburger could never beat out a humble turkey-and-swiss sub, right? The truth is, Subway's food is about as “fresh and clean" as McDonald’s.
It might come as a bit of a surprise to know that your “healthy fast food” option is anything but. After all, their slogan is, “Eat Fresh,” and Subway’s parent company is an entity called Doctor's Associates, INC. Don’t be fooled by that name - Doctor’s Associates, INC. has about as much to do with medicine as Dr. Pepper. Subway co-founder, Fred DeLuca, coined the name because his little budding sandwich shop was originally intended as a means to pay for his medical college education - which he never completed.
Sadly, Subway is not the food court's healthy oasis. It’s just another fast food chain with unhealthy food. Putting all the misleading names and catchy jingles aside, what makes Subway sandwiches so bad? Let’s break it down.
1. It Starts With Bread
The thing that makes a sandwich a sub is the bread. With multiple bread options, Subway's most popular option is their white Italian. But what goes into their Italian bread? A quick search shows this classic loaf is comprised of the following:
- Enriched flour
- Soybean oil
- Fermented wheat flour
- Wheat protein isolate
- Wheat gluten
- Dough conditioners (acetylated tartaric acid, esters of mono)
- Ammonium sulfate
- Calcium sulfate
- Ascorbic acid
- Potassium iodate
- Sodium stearoyl-2-lactylate
- Lactic acid
- Mineral oil
Ingredients such as flour, water, and yeast are expected, but azodicarbonamide is a bit of a red flag. Azodicarbonamide is a flour-bleaching agent that relaxes the dough and helps it keep its shape - and has been credited by the UK Health and Safety Executive as a potential cause of asthma. That's not the "accolade" I want my lunch to have.
2. The McDonald's Factor
Remember when we said Subway was as bad as McDonalds? It’s sadly true. While your typical footlong sub does indeed contain fewer calories than a McD’s burger, calories are not the only thing you need to be wary of.
In a recent study conducted at the University of California Los Angeles, 97 participants between the ages of 12 and 21 were asked to eat both McDonald’s (1,038 calories) and Subway (955 calories) meals. While Subway has the lower calorie count, it’s not by much. In fact, when it comes to sodium, the differences between the two become stark. Surprisingly, McDonald’s meals contained 1,829 mg - that’s a substantial 320 mg less than Subway, which comes in at a whopping 2,149 mg of sodium.
3. More Misleading Marketing
Look, I don’t expect amazing food from a clown, but what about an Olympic athlete? Surely whatever is good enough for these fit folks is good enough for the rest of us? Nope, it’s just Subway’s money that is good.
Subway really tries to hammer down this notion that they’re a healthy haven for people looking for a quick, cheap meal. When a physical specimen like Michael Phelps is telling you how good their meatball subs are for you, why not buy a cookie too? When people think what they’re eating is healthy, they don’t think as much about what exactly they’re buying ... and are more willing to purchase add-ons. This is called the "health halo" effect. In fact, a lot of the items that top the menu in terms of calories at fast food places are salads.
Besides, Michael Phelps consumes a bewildering 12,000 calories a day to be ready to compete, and he burns it all off in the water. He's definitely not the guy I’m taking food recommendations from, nor Johnny Manziel. Seriously, who’s idea was that?
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H/T: David Wolfe