How much fat is in your lunch?
Choosing healthy options on-the-go at lunchtime can be tough - particularly if you haven't packed your own lunch. Picking up a sandwich or salad from your local supermarket or M&S might seem like a healthy option, but do you really know just how much fat your lunch contains - not to mention additives, salt and sugar? Many supermarket pre-packed lunch options are loaded with fat and additives, so your prawn salad or chicken sandwich could be harming your health. We look at a few of the most popular lunch choices from leading supermarkets and reveal how much fat is in your lunch!
A salad is a really healthy choice, right? Packed with plenty of vegetables and usually counting as at least one of your five-a-day, filling your face with salad leaves can be good for you, if you choose the right salad, that is! Making your own bowl of salad and dressing at home is the best way to go, but if you need to buy pre-prepared, here are a few surprisingly high fat options that you might want to avoid:
M & S Avocado & Feta Salad - This hearty salad might contain healthy fats from the avocado, but it doesn't contain enough veggies to count as even one portion of your five-a-day, and it's loaded with 32g fat (7.4g saturated fat), 510 calories and 2.4g salt (1). The salt is perhaps the most shocking part - 2.4g is almost 40% of your recommended daily limit of salt!
Other salads to avoid include:
- Tesco Tuna Layered Salad - With 470 calories and a whopping 26g fat (2g saturated), this salad also contains 1.6g of salt. Tuna is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, but we recommend making your own salad at home!
- Waitrose Good to Go Tomato and Basil Chicken Pasta Salad - This contains 584 calories and 9.8g fat (3.5g sat fat) with 1.8g salt. Although it's loaded with lycopene from the tomatoes, an antioxidant which could help to keep your heart healthy, the high calories and fat content could mean you'll need to compensate by eating a smaller portion at dinnertime!
Choosing a healthy salad
There are things to look out for, to ensure you choose a healthier salad:
- Avoid fatty, creamy dressings or anything loaded with mayo and cheese, which adds plenty of calories and fat but little nutritional value
- Look for low-fat salads wherever possible as eating a lunch that's high in fat could make you feel sleepy later on
- Swap heavy pasta salads for beans in a light vinaigrette - M & S have some fantastic bean salads which are packed with protein and fibre
- Look out for salads with separate pots of dressings. This way you can control calories and fat content by adding just a little dressing - or skip it altogether for a healthier option
- Aim for salads which count as at least one of your five-a-day
Your lunchtime sandwich can be a fairly healthy option, provided you know what to look out for. Some sandwiches may surprise you, and what sounds like a relatively healthy choice could actually be loaded with fat and calories. Here are some of the worst culprits when it comes to calorific sandwiches:
- M & S Tuna and Sweetcorn Sandwich - Sounds relatively guilt-free, right? Don't be fooled! With 400 calories and 16g fat, this sandwich is actually more calorific than an M & S Chicken & Stuffing Sandwich, which clocks in at 376 calories and 10g fat.
- Asda Vintage Cheddar Ploughmans - The cheese in this sandwich ups the saturated fat content to a whopping 15.2g saturated fat - that's over 75% of the maximum daily amount recommended for women. Avoid!
- Pret's Herb Chicken and Rocket Sandwich - This seemingly healthy option contains 449 calories, 22g fat (6g saturates) and 3g sugar. Whilst it's not the worst offender on the list in terms of saturated fat, bear in mind that it's billed as a 'healthier' choice yet contains more fat than an M & S
Choosing a healthy sandwich
We've got some tips for you that should help you navigate the minefield that is the sandwich aisle, wherever you've stopped off for lunch:
- Pick sandwiches that contain naturally low-fat ingredients such as salad, lean chicken, ham or tuna
- Avoid creamy dressings, mayo, cream cheese spreads and other calorific additions
- Always read the label - that 'healthy' chicken salad roll could be hiding something!
- Check the saturated fat content - the total fat content includes 'good' fat found in things like olive oil and avocados. Not all fat is bad!
- If in doubt, head for a sandwich shop and have them make you a sandwich from scratch, so you can pick and choose your ingredients. Fill up on salad toppings and lean protein and you'll cut the calories and fat content whilst remaining satisfied and feeling full until dinnertime!
Lunch doesn't have to be salad or a sandwich - there are other options too such as sushi or even a healthy omelette, if you're eating out. Just bear in mind that some lunch options might appear to be healthy - such as sushi - but could actually contain lots of sugar, salt and fat, so always check the labels.
The healthiest choice for lunch is to make your own, whether that involves packing up last night's leftover chicken and brown rice, whipping up a quick avocado salad or making tuna wraps. A few minutes spent prepping lunch the night before could mean the difference between a day of healthy eating and a day of poor food choices!
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