Friday, February 29, 2008

Beware of Panera!

So I had the pleasure of being introduced to Panera sometime in the last 6 months, and I was immediately hooked. They have a wide variety of options of soups, salads, and sandwiches, among other things. It was made pretty much a weekly visit in our lunch rotation. Well thanks to Gail and her subscription to the Nutrition Action Healthletter, the truth is now revealed: nutritional information for their food. It's been on the Panera website, but I never thought to look into it because I assumed the food was quasi-healthy. Well for all of you out there who are looking for a healthy lunchtime meal, you better do some research first. The calories, fat content, and sodium of a lot of they're options are pretty surprising. Here are some of the bad ones:
  • Broccoli Cheddar Soup (8 oz.) : 230 calories, 16 grams of fat, and 1000 mg of sodium

  • Italian Combo (17 oz) : 1060 calories, 49 grams of fat, 170 mg of cholesterol, 3000 mg of sodium

  • Tuna Salad on Whole Grain (14 oz.) : 840 calories, 44 grams of fat, 45 mg of cholesterol, 1590 mg of sodium (wtf?)

Granted those are the extremes, but most of their options are pretty bad. I resorted to the grilled salmon salad today after referencing the nutritional guide. Here are some comparisons to make:

  • McDonald's Big Mac (7.5 oz) : 540 calories, 29 grams of fat, 75 mg of cholesterol, 1040 mg of sodium

  • Wendy's Triple Burger (with everything including cheese) : 980 calories, 60 grams of fat, 245 mg of cholesterol, 2010 mg of sodium

  • BK Triple Whopper w/ cheese : 1230 calories, 82 grams of fat, 275 mg of cholesterol, 1590 mg of sodium

As you can see, the extreme selections from fast food joints don't look nearly as bad as they should in comparison to the Panera selections. Even the Mediterranean Veggie sandwich from Panera has more calories than a Big Mac. If you look at the ounces, yes, Panera has larger sandwiches, but I'd say a Big Mac fills me up just as much as any of the Panera sandwiches.

So don't resort to your local fast food restaurant instead of Panera, but I'm just saying to not get duped by the Panera atmosphere - it may as well have a playland inside.

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