Bad news for sandwich lovers. According to the latest government analysis, we're all eating too much salt and our beloved midday sammies are the culprits. Part of the lunch food's problem is its popularity: 49 percent of adults eat at least one sandwich on a typical day, according to the 2009-2010 What We Eat in America survey. And sandwiches account for 20 percent of a typical day's sodium intake.
This news isn't so surprising when one considers that bread and deli meats are two of the biggest sources of sodium in the U.S. diet. But this study may have painted a clearer picture: Unlike previous sandwich intake studies, researchers considered both meals reported as sandwiches and those reported as a list of sandwich ingredients. As the study's press release revealed:
For most sandwiches, participants reported the various components of their sandwich (such as bread and fillings) individually. Those components were then coded separately with multiple food codes that were linked to indicate they were eaten together as a sandwich.
So what's a lunch-enthusiast to do? For those who don't feel right without some lettuce-turkey-tomato between slices of bread, it may be time to brown bag it. Processed food -- the sort that's found in restaurants and prepackaged convenience meals -- accounts for 80 percent of the sodium in our diets. That means wholesome, real food ingredients are the key to building a better sandwich.
"Regardless of sandwich reporting status, sodium density was approximately 1,700-1,800 mg per 1,000 kilocalories, suggesting that the higher sodium levels of sandwich reports are explained by their higher energy intake," explained study co-author Rhonda Sebastian, MA in a statement.
That's a non-confrontational way of saying that our sandwiches are high in salt mostly because they're high in everything -- calories, most of all. The best course of action may be to cut down on overall sandwich size.
Need some inspiration? Check out these sandwich-inspired salads: