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AICR HealthTalk

Karen Collins, MS, RDN, CDN, FAND
American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: Are breakfast sandwiches all the same nutritionally, or are some healthier than others?

A: Breakfast sandwich choices vary widely nutritionally, but you can find healthful options that don’t take a toll on your waistline and your health. To get the benefits of long-lasting energy and fullness from these sandwiches look for those made with English muffins, flatbread or tortillas instead of biscuits. They are usually at least 100 calories lighter and much lower in saturated fat and sodium than biscuit-based sandwiches. An egg and cheese sandwich today usually tallies about 300 to 350 calories. That leaves room to include a piece of fruit, either from a restaurant or at home, to deliver a balanced meal within the 400 to 425 calorie range that meets the needs of most adults.

Options made with sausage and a biscuit, often contain 50 to 75 percent of the recommended limits for saturated fat and sodium for a whole day. Sausage is a common addition to these sandwiches that adds a particularly large load of calories, saturated fat and sodium. Actually, sausage, bacon and ham are all processed meats that are best kept to eating only occasionally due to their link with increased cancer risk.

If you’re making a sandwich at home or are getting your sandwich from a place where you can add some tomatoes, peppers or other vegetables, that’s a top option. With home preparation, you can also improve nutritional value by using a whole-grain English muffin or flatbread. At 400 or so calories, a breakfast sandwich may feel like a calorie splurge, but that’s about the same as you’d get from one of those jumbo muffins that’s nothing but refined grain made with six or seven teaspoons of sugar.

Try AICR's Egg and Roasted Red Pepper Wrap.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF).

Published on 10/05/2015

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