Is Subway Healthy? What To Choose, What To Skip

Just how healthy is Subway? The nutrition of Subway’s items varies between products. Some options are healthier than others. The grilled chicken, for example, contains caramelized sugar, maltodextrin, and rib meat. The rotisserie-style chicken, in contrast, is made up of chicken, water, and 2% or less salt and seasoning.

Some items, like a side of applesauce and avocado, provide more nutrients and less added sugar than cookies and soda. Make sure you check the ingredients list and nutrition of each item before ordering. Read on to learn if Subway is healthy and the nutrition facts of popular items.

anouchka / Getty Images

Plenty of healthy options exist at Subway, but less-balanced choices do, too. Certain meats contain hard-to-pronounce additives, excess sodium, and unhealthy fats. Other items include added sugar.


Two strips of bacon contain 170 milligrams (mg) of sodium, which is about 7% of the recommended intake. Too much sodium might cause high blood pressure and a build-up of fluids in people with heart failure, liver disease, and kidney disease.

The same serving size also has 3 grams (g) of saturated fat. This fat contributes to health complications like heart disease. Examples of saturated fat include butter and lard.


A double chocolate chip cookie has about 19 g of added sugar. The American Heart Association (AHA) advises 36 g of added sugar per day for men and 25 g for women. Added sugars, in contrast to the natural sugar in fruit and milk products, do not supply nutrients. Excess added sugar can lead to obesity and tooth decay.

Keep in mind that it’s perfectly OK to enjoy a sweet treat every now and then. Pick special occasions to add a cookie to your meal as a dessert.

Grilled Chicken

Here’s an example of why checking the ingredients matter. Subway’s grilled chicken is not simply cooked chicken breast. It includes:

  • Boneless skinless chicken breast with rib meat
  • Caramelized sugar
  • Dextrose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Modified potato starch
  • Potassium chloride
  • Sodium phosphate
  • Soy protein concentrate


A 16-ounce (oz) fountain soda without ice can have over 30 g of added sugar, which is more than 7 teaspoons (tsp). That 16-oz soda alone exceeds the American Heart Association’s (AHA) recommended limit of 6 tsp per day for women.

Toasted Artisan Italian Bread

One foot-long sandwich on toasted Italian artisan bread has as much as 80 g of carbs. Nearly six standard slices of white bread have the same amount of carbs.

Essential nutrients are stripped from refined grains, including Italian artesian. Opt for a six-inch sandwich on hearty multigrain bread, which packs whole grains. Whole grains are a source of fiber, which adds bulk to your meal and keeps you full for long periods.

Several options with pre-selected ingredients exist, but you can also build your own sandwich. Subway even calculates the calories in your selections if you order online, which allows you to see your meal’s total calories. Here’s a look at some healthy options to add to your meal.


Opt for a squeeze pouch of unsweetened applesauce as a side item. The applesauce provides 70 calories, 16 g of carbs, and no added sugar.


A scan of the nutrition facts shows that the only ingredients in Subway’s smashed avocado are Hass avocados and sea salt. Add avocado to any order to increase your intake of anti-inflammatory compounds and healthy fat. Avocado also provides essential nutrients like potassium, which regulates blood pressure and supports heart, muscle, and nerve function.

Avocados contain nutrients and bioactive compounds that help reduce the risk of obesity. Some evidence suggests that regularly consuming avocados may help you manage your weight.

Rotisserie-Style Chicken

Consider trying the rotisserie-style chicken, made from chicken, water, and 2% or less additional ingredients if you eat meat. Those ingredients include salt, soybean oil, dextrose, and seasonings.

Vegetable Patty

Subway only offers one non-animal protein option: a vegetable patty made from vegetables and soy. You might opt for the vegetable patty, even if you are not a plant-based eater. Research has shown a high intake of plant protein helps lower the risk of death from all causes.


Two pros of Subway include the ability to customize your order and the availability of fresh vegetables. You can pick from a wide variety of vegetables, including:

  • Cucumbers
  • Green peppers
  • Red onions
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes

The best way to build the most vegetables into your meal is to order a salad or one of the chain’s No Bready Bowls. The menu item gives you the ingredients of a sandwich (minus the bread) served in a bowl. Bowls and salads are one way to skirt surplus carbs.

Subway offers nutrition facts that list ingredients for its bread, proteins, vegetables, condiments, and other items like pizzas, cookies, and soups. Select items with simple, recognizable ingredients. You can also use this function to quickly identify allergens, such as dairy, soy, sulfites, and wheat.

Other tips for ordering take-out include:

  • Ask for dressing on the side if you order a salad.
  • Choose lean meats, such as chicken and turkey, over red meat.
  • Opt for low-fat milk or unsweetened tea if you do not enjoy the taste of water.
  • Order a vegetable on the side if your sandwich does not come with one for a balanced meal.
  • Pick olive oil and vinegar instead of high-calorie condiments.
  • Replace extra meat with extra vegetables.
  • Split a foot-long sandwich with a friend, or save half of it for leftovers.

Subway may be better than fried foods as a convenient take-out option. Nutrition, though, goes beyond cooking and includes ingredients, processing, and nutrients. Take the time to review any chain’s ingredients, including those of Subway, especially if you eat there frequently. Opt for fresh, minimally processed foods as often as possible. Go for items with straightforward ingredients and few additives, including added sugar.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *