Subway – healthy eating??

Have you seen the latest Subway ad campaign? If not I’ll briefly describe it for you.  They have a couple of Olympic athletes, an athlete and a boxer, stating what their favourite Subway sandwich is. The message implicit in the ad is that Subway sandwiches are healthy and this is backed up by the current TV campaign featuring the same athletes.


The problem I have with this is that by no stretch of the imagination is a Subway sandwich ‘healthy’.  On our real food plan we avoid bread because wheat causes most people issues with digestion/bloating. So that is one point against a so-called healthy sandwich. The bread Subway serve is actually so far removed from ‘real’ bread that even you weren’t avoiding wheat I still wouldn’t advise it – check out the ingredients list below and you’ll see why!

Subway 9-grain wheat ingredients list:

Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Whole Wheat Flour, Contains 2% Or Less Of The Following: Wheat Gluten, Oat Fiber, Yeast, Soybean Oil, Wheat Bran, Calcium Blend (Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin D3), Salt, Rolled Wheat, Rye Nuggets, Dough Conditioners (Datem, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate), Yeast Nutrients (Calcium Sulfate, Ammonium Sulfate), Degermed Yellow Corn Meal, Rolled Oats, Rye Flakes, Caramel Color, Triticale Flakes, Parboiled Brown Rice, Refinery Syrup, Honey, Barley Flakes, Flaxseed, Millet, Sorghum Flour, Flavor (Yeast Extract, Salt, Natural Flavor). Contains wheat.

If they do that to their bread what do they do to everything else? Which brings me to my second concern – the quality of their meat.  I suspected that it is probably not the best quality – no massive chain who serves pre-packed meat that cheap can possibly be good quality. I did a bit of research and Wiki answers told me this:

‘Obviously different things go into different meats. The deli meats such as ham and turkey are meat slurry (nice!) and are the same as any other deli meat you would buy from the grocer’s deli. Some other meats are not so clean cut. The Oven Roasted Chicken Breast is a concoction of chicken bits, tapioca and other fun stuff. The Cold Cut Combo which is Ham, Bolognaand Salami is actually processed and flavored turkey product. And the egg for their breakfast sandwiches are almost anything but eggs’.

I did actually discover on Subway’s own website that in Europe they use 100% free-range eggs and only serve British pork in theUK which is reassuring BUT even if the meat is reared and slaughtered humanely as they claim what they add to it in processing means it’s no good for your body.  Here is the list of ingredients in their ‘beef’:

Beef, beef broth (water, beef stock), seasoning (hydrolyzed soy protein, salt, dextrose,modified corn starch, sodium phosphates, beef extract, soy sauce powder [soy sauce (soybeans, salt, alcohol) maltodextrin, salt], yeast extract, natural and artificial flavor, grill flavor [maltodextrin, grill flavor (from vegetable oil), modified corn starch, corn syrup solids]), beef flavor (water, natural flavors, beef fat, gelatin/gum arabic coacervate, xanthan gum, citric acid, potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate and soybean oil). Rubbed with: salt, maltodextrin, modified corn starch, dextrose, caramel color, beef extract, garlic powder, onion powder, natural flavor. May contain tomato, lemon, onions, peppers, hydrolyzed corn proteinautolyzed yeast extract, modified food starch, acacia gum, sunflower oil, tricalcium phosphate, silicon dioxide, spices and sulfites. Contains soy.

Why on earth does beef need flavouring with beef flavour???

I could go on but my third and final objection is related to some of those ingredients mentioned above, most people are by now aware of the health problems associated with MSG so do Subway use MSG in any of their products? Of course not! However, their own website includes the following answer in the Frequently Asked Question section:

‘The SUBWAY® brand does not add MSG to any of the standard menu items. However, other ingredients such as hydrolyzed or textured vegetable proteins and/or autolyzed yeast are used in our products. These ingredients contain glutamates that may cause similar sensitivities that MSG causes’.

I’m no saint and do like the odd cheat meal BUT if I was ever to eat a Subway it would be fully in the knowledge that I am giving my body absolutely no health points by eating it and that I would need to eat some good, clean, nutritious food later on to build those points back up.  What I object to mostly about the Subway ads is the fact that they claim to be healthy and for people who are not so well educated about food choices it may seem like a good option.

The confusion that ads like this create around nutrition makes it so difficult for people to know how to make the right choices.  We are constantly bombarded with different messages; not just from advertising but from the government, magazines, the news and ‘diet’ clubs – how is anyone supposed to know what a ‘good’ choice for their lunch is

We have laid out the simple rules for adding health points to your body and guidance on how to make the right choices everyday in The Real Food Plan.  You can get your free copy at

About Fran


  1. I was wondering about how healthy Subway really was… now I know.. It all comes down to marketing… I do strongly object to companies advertising chicken / beef when it is not strictly true… When is a chicken not a chicken?? If it contains 1% chicken, is it classified as a chicken??

    It’s great that companies are allowed to effectively poison people within the confines of the law…

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