Is Subway's Food Healthy?

Putting aside the politics of the proposed Subway in downtown Mill Valley, let's explore the nutritional value of sandwich chain's fare.


With more than 36,000 locations in 98 countries throughout the world, the Subway sandwich chain is as ubiquitous as it gets.

But here in Marin, the is more than a mere blip on the ever-growing chain’s tally. A Subway franchisee’s application to open one in downtown Mill Valley , as its after some neighbors asked to city to get the applicant to produce data on the amount of traffic the 900-square-foot restaurant would generate.

But let’s put the politics aside for now and look at the nutritional and health aspects of Subway.  

Subway's slogan, “Eat Fresh,” refers to the service of freshly prepared sandwiches, not the food itself. Deli sandwiches are made mostly of processed meat products heavily laden with preservatives. We preserve meats in this way so they can last many months. They are certainly not fresh. Vegetable toppings like lettuce, tomato and peppers do offer some nutritional redemption but don't stack up to locally sourced organic vegetable fare offered at other local eateries. Subway's breads are baked fresh daily, but the ingredients can be many months old, and with the latest trend of not eating bread, Subway may have a difficult time in Mill Valley. So don't be fooled by the slogan. A commenter on a about Subway posted this link.

The nutritional content of the sandwiches looks reasonable at first, with some choices lower in fat, calories and sodium. But published nutritional content focuses on the 6-inch sandwich, without the optional cheese, while all of their marketing is for the (sing it with me) "$5 foot-long." With our propensity for large portions, the foot long is their most popular sandwich. Consuming foot-long sandwiches on a regular basis is sure to cause an increase in the waist line. Calories for a foot-long range from 460 for the Veggie Delight (without cheese) to 1,140 for the Turkey Bacon Ranch Melt (never mind the 1,300 Mega Omelet breakfast sandwich). Add a bag of Dorrito's and a can of soda and you end up with a 1,550 calorie lunch.

Can you lose weight, as their famous spokesperson Jared did, eating at Subway every day? Of course you could. There are several 6" sandwiches which contain around 300 calories, and if you add the optional apple slices (35 calories) and drink water, instead of chips and soda, you are well within any weight loss calorie target. They also have salads with even fewer calories. The interesting dichotomy is that their new marketing campaign features star athletes who are trying to fuel up by packing on the calories (not that they say it quite that way). They want you to think of them for both low calorie and high calorie options.

Regardless of what the Planning Commission decides about Subway, Mill Valley residents will vote with their dollars and Subway will either thrive or . In the mean time, be prepared to work off some of those 1,500 calorie meals.

Sara January 27, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Thanks Craig! I completely blanked on Ecclesiastes.
c.richards January 27, 2012 at 06:18 AM
I find it odd that the Subway on Grant is cash only. Found that out AFTER they had made my sandwich. Went next door to Lucky to use the a.t.m. and what do you know ? They have a deli . Slid my card and off I went with my sandwich.Sorry Subway.
Citizen January 27, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Nick raises a good point in terms of comparing 'apples with apples' if we are just talking about the nutrition of Subway food. Is Subway food healthy? Is Stefano's food healthy? Is Pearl's food healthy? Is Champagne's food healthy? The answer is the same for all: It depends on what you order. I suspect, for example, a 'typical' meal at Pearls (burger + fries + soda) would be similar (or even higher) in calories and fat than a 'typical' meal (sandwich + chips + soda) at Subway. Most of the lunch places in town, not just Subway, serve sandwiches with red tomatoes in January, not only when they are in season. I think it is important to talk about nutrition, and I'm not a huge Subway fan. However, it is unclear to me why Subway is being singled out. In fact, Subway is more transparent about its nutrition information than any of the other places I mentioned, allowing the customer to make an informed decision.
jennie dito January 28, 2012 at 10:00 AM
Isn't the real issue at hand preserving "community character"? We want downtown Mill Valley to remain charming and unique. Another big corporate store chain, who needs another? If we want subway, we will drive 1 mile to shoreline highway. The call for a traffic study, with findings that the traffic would cause a significant impact, is actually the only way to legally prohibit subway from renting the space. Thank God for CEQA. The cal environmental quality act....the only substantive environmental law in history. I say do the study, and let's hope they find it would cause a traffic impact that could not be mitigated. At the very least, it is an expensive process and maybe subway wouldn't pay the fee.
Jim Welte February 09, 2012 at 06:41 AM
Hey Nick - thanks for the comment. Where did the idea of a traffic study come from as far as you know? City officials had just told me they requested additional traffic data from the Subway franchisee to be based on traffic counts at other similarly sized Subways in the area, but not a full study.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »