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Toppings That You Can Avoid On Your Sandwich

Last updated March 13, 2017

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

The ingredients on your sandwich can make or break the nutrition it provides, as unhealthy options can cancel out the nourishment your body needs.

Sandwiches are not only a common staple item in a child’s lunchbox, but also a standard menu item in many fast food and deli shops. The ingredients on your sandwich can make or break the nutrition it provides, as unhealthy options can cancel out the nourishment your body needs.

Consider avoiding the following sandwich toppings that can render a sandwich unhealthy:


Recently, bacon has gained a rebirth in the food industry, as it is now added to many sandwiches in restaurants and fast food chains. It should not come as a surprise that bacon, despite its incredible flavor and adaptability to every meal of the day, could have a substantial impact on your health. Approximately 68% of the calories in that savory pork bacon slice are from fat. About half of these fat calories are saturated fat, which should be very limited in the diet. A study conducted in 2010 by The Harvard School of Public Health discovered that consuming processed meats, such as bacon, is linked to a 42% increased risk for heart disease, and if that is not enough, a 19% increased risk for type 2 diabetes. These risks alone should persuade you to ditch the bacon.

Other Processed Meats:

American Institute for Cancer Research defines processed meat as “meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or addition of chemical preservatives.” These processed meats include bacon, packaged ham, sausage, deli meats, and hot dogs. The processed deli meats you may see on your sandwich include ham, salami, pepperoni, and bologna. Like bacon, these other processed meats are also associated with an increase in the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. Limit these processed cold cut meats and opt for fresh chicken, turkey, tuna, or fish as protein options.


Mayonnaise spreads add a significant portion of fat to your sandwich when spread upon both sides of the bread. They contain unhealthy saturated fats that can threaten your cardiovascular health in the long term. If you love the mayonnaise flavor, opt for low-fat mayo. Consider low-fat options, such as a little oil and vinegar, mustard, or hummus. Even adding a few slices of avocado can create moisture in the sandwich and add essential fats.


Despite that many consider cheese to be a high source of calcium and protein, the Harvard School of Public Health has named it as one of the largest sources of saturated fats in the United States. Saturated fats are the unhealthy fats that should be consumed in small proportions. If you must indulge at all, consider opting for a low-fat version of your favorite cheese.

It is relatively easy to make slight modifications to your sandwiches by supplementing the unhealthy option with an equally flavorful substitute. You can even further improve the nutrition of your sandwich by adding plenty of vegetables and substituting white bread for whole grain options. These alterations to a rather unhealthy sandwich might not seem significant now, but will be much better for your health in the long run.


Datz, T. Eating processed meats, but not unprocessed red meats, may raise risk of heart disease and diabetes [Internet]. 2010 May 17 [cited 2015 Jan 27]. Available from: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/processed-meats-unprocessed-heart-disease-diabetes/

FAQ: Processed Meat and Cancer [Internet]. 2014 Aug 7. [cited 2015 Jan 27]. Available from: http://www.aicr.org/enews/2014/08-august/faq-processed-meat-and.html

Micha R, Wallace S, Mozaffarian D. Red and Processed Meat Consumption and Risk of Incident Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, and Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Circulation. 2010;121(21):2271-2283.

Top Food Sources of Saturated Fat in the U.S. [Internet]. Harvard School of Public Health [cited 2015 Jan 27]. Available from: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/top-food-sources-of-saturated-fat-in-the-us/

Eating Out [Internet]. National Institutes of Health [updated 2012 Nov 12; cited 2015 Jan 27]. Available from: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000339.htm

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

La Place, V. (2002). Panini, Bruschetta, Crostini: Sandwiches, Italian Style. Harper Collins.

Pinkowish, M. D. (2002). Healthy eating in the fast-food lane. Patient Care, 36(8), 71-76.

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: March 13, 2017
Last updated: March 13, 2017