We hear all the time that we aren’t supposed to eat fast food because of all the unhealthy ingredients, fat and calories. So instead, we’re told that Subway is the healthy alternative to burgers, nuggets and fries. We’ve watched for years as Jared Fogle, “the Subway guy,” has promoted eating at the sandwich restaurant for weight loss. And the subs are a mainstay in the Biggest Loser diet. So it should be good for us without question, right?
Well, David Zinczenko, author of the Eat This, Not That series, argues otherwise. In a short list on The Truth About Your Food at Yahoo, he lifts the veil on the ingredients label of some of our favorite foods. While there aren’t any misconceptions about other foods on the list like Doritos and Skittles, the one surprising inclusion is Subway. Namely their fresh-baked bread.
Setting the Subway 9-grain wheat in his crosshairs, Zinczenko fires at not only the lack of nutritional value, but the very poor ingredients that are used. Most health-conscious consumers probably ask for the 9-grain wheat sub as opposed to the plain-white because of the nutritional value, but his findings reveal you might as well get the white.
While there are nine grains in that bread, eight of them are scarce, as they appear on the ingredient listing under the “contains 2% or less” notice. The most plentiful ingredient in this sub bread is white flour, the kind you should avoid.
More plentiful than any one of the whole grains is high fructose corn syrup, a manufactured sweetener that has been linked closely with the obesity epidemic.
“Essentially this is a white-wheat hybrid with trace amounts of other whole grains like oats, barley, and rye,” says Zinczenko of the Subway bread.
In all there are 16 ingredients in this bread (see the label), many of which are the unfamilar, unpronouncable variety like azodiacarbonamide, prohibited in Australia and used for bleaching flour, DATEM, a combo of diacetyle tartaric acid, fatty acid and sugar alcohol, and ammonium sulfate, full of nitrogen and a common fertilizer ingredient. The ammonium sulfate helps grow the bread’s yeast. Zinczenko says “What, did you think that dark hue [on the bread] was the result of whole grains? Hardly. It’s a combination of the ammonium sulfate and the caramel coloring.”
No wonder Jillian Michaels campaigned against Subway’s High Fructose Corn Syrup use earlier this year.
While a six-inch sub is still a better choice than most fast-food offerings, it’s not the healthy ally we’ve been lead to believe.
Make a healthy sandwich at home where you can control the ingredients. And as always, the lesson is do your homework and read the food labels before falling for the marketing claims.
June 15th, 2010