Panera Bread, Worse than a Big Mac?

Panera Bread - Mediterranean Veggie on Tomato Basil

Panera bread has an upscale image that automatically translates in many people’s minds to healthy food. We want to challenge that thinking by comparing a popular sandwich served at Panera with the icon of junk-food – the McDonald’s Big Mac.

Panera’s Mediterranean Veggie on Tomato Basil Sandwich, pictured above, seems like a really healthy food, but the nutrients and ingredients tell a different story. We don’t mind the 590 calories if this is your meal, but the sodium count is ridiculously high (60% of your entire day’s worth). While the protein count is nice – 22 grams, the carb load is very high, as refined flour has been used for the bread.  See the ingredient list:

XL Loaf (unbleached enriched wheat flour [flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid], tomatoes, water, salt, crumb topping [sugar, enriched wheat flour {flour, malted barley flour, niacin, ferrous sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid}, palm oil, natural flavor, honey, salt, water, mono & diglycerides, polysorbate 60], garlic [garlic, water, phosphoric acid, and sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate added as preservative], yeast [yeast, sorbitan monostearate, ascorbic acid], basil), cilantro, jalapeno hummus (garbanzo beans (garbanzo beans, water,salt), water, tahini (ground sesame seeds), cilantro, canola and extra virgin olive oil blend, jalapenos (jalapenos, water, vinegar, salt), parsley, garlic, salt, roasted bell pepper powder (roasted bell peppers, potato maltodextrin, rice flour, roasted red bell pepper concentrate, sunflower oil, ascorbic acid and tocopherol as antioxidants, natural flavor), lemon juice concentrate, spice, stabilizer (tara gum, carrageenan), citric acid, phosphoric acid, potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate as preservatives, malic acid, vinegar, natural flavor, spices, oil of lime), cucumber, tomatoes, peppadew (sweet piquante peppers, water, white sugar, vinegar, salt, ascorbic acid, calcium chloride), red onion, lettuce, feta cheese (pasteurized part-skim milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes, powdered cellulose to prevent caking), salt, black pepper.

Scary long, huh?

Big Mac

Let’s compare to McDonald’s classic Big Mac. The burger will set you back 550 calories, slightly less than Panera’s sandwich (590). It has 25 grams of protein, a bit more than Panera’s 22 grams. It’s high in sodium – 970 mg, but this is 400mg less than Panera!

The ingredient list is scary to read as well:

100% pure USDA inspected beef, no fillers, no extenders, Prepared with grill seasoning (salt, black pepper),Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar, soybean oil and/or canola oil, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, wheat gluten, ammonium sulfate, ammonium chloride, dough conditioners (may contain one or more of the following: sodium stearoyl lactylate, datem, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated monoglycerides, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, guar gum, calcium peroxide), calcium propionate and/or sodium propionate (preservatives), soy lecithin, sesame seed,Milk, water, milkfat, cheese culture, sodium citrate, salt, citric acid, sorbic acid (preservative), sodium phosphate, color added, lactic acid, acetic acid, enzymes, soy lecithin (added for slice separation),Soybean oil, pickle relish [diced pickles, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, vinegar, corn syrup, salt, calcium chloride, xanthan gum, potassium sorbate (preservative), spice extractives, polysorbate 80], distilled vinegar, water, egg yolks, high fructose corn syrup, onion powder, mustard seed, salt, spices, propylene glycol alginate, sodium benzoate (preservative), mustard bran, sugar, garlic powder, vegetable protein (hydrolyzed corn, soy and wheat), caramel color, extractives of paprika, soy lecithin, turmeric (color), calcium disodium EDTA (protect flavor),lettuce,Cucumbers, water, distilled vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, alum, potassium sorbate (preservative), natural flavors (plant source), polysorbate 80, extractives of turmeric (color).

True, the Big Mac has worse ingredients such as EDTA and azodicarbonamide, but both companies use mono and diglycerides and refined flour.

Panera wins by a small margin, but it is certainly not a healthy sandwich.

Get Fooducated

  • anonymously

    Is there anything that is safe from your criticisms? What about carrots, or are they actually just as bad as potato chips??

    • kfay

      Pointing out that white bread and high sodium in a “healthy” option makes that item less healthy than most people believe is not the same as comparing carrots and potato chips. At least try to be logical.

      While the comparison to a BigMac is a little unnecessary to me because I would never eat one anyway (although the BigMac having less sodium was surprising), the point still stands that the Panera Bread sandwich is not as healthy as it appears. Making it yourself or at least switching a better bread would be better options.

      • http://www.fooducate.com/ Fooducate

        Thanks Kay for articulating the reason behind this post. As for the comparison to a Big Mac, we wanted an anchor for comparison.

    • tennysmom

      I really hope fooducate doesn’t let negative remarks like yours to bother them. If you don’t like their post, maybe you should uninstall the app…just an idea. I personally enjoy reading everything they post daily..

      • anonymously

        Like you and everybody else, I am entitled to speak my opinion on this. If you post anything on the internet, there will be people out there who disagree with whatever you post. They have the right to post, and we have the right to give our opinions on what they post.

        • Deevakween

          Like you said, an opinion!

        • bettijo

          If you don’t like this site, just unsubscribe. But keep your negative thoughts to yourself–nobody likes a negative person. As my grandmother used to tell me, if you cannot say something about somebody, don’t say anything at all. It is cowardly to hide behind “anonymous.”

      • 4theluv

        I will say that while there are things that I disagree with on here (and i voice them sometimes) I still appreciate what Fooducate does. As a general rule eating anything out is almost always a second best option. Learning to navigate those choices whether at McDonalds or Panera Bread is always appreciated. And Hemi does a good job of raising that level of consciousness so we at least think about what we are getting, rather than assume anything.

      • Maria

        Really!! I agree just delete the app…sheesh the reason to have it is for information and then people get upset at the information!

  • baf

    Seems obvious that if you switch the bread for one of the many other choices you are all set for a healthy meal.

  • ash

    It’s crazy how even at a “healthy” restaurant, you still have to be careful of your choices. As long as you don’t eat out all the time, it’s ok to eat this kind of stuff occasionally. Also, Panera promotes the use of organic & range fed meats… which is way better than the quality you get at Mc Donalds.
    Your best bet is to slowly reduce the amount of meals you eat out. It’s amazing what an impact that has on your sodium intake.

  • Anonymous

    The title here is: Panera Bread, worse than a Big Mac? This makes it sound as if one is comparing all of Panera Bread to the Big Mac which is obviously not the case and is quite misleading. One sandwich at Panera is compared to one sandwich at McDonald’s, yet the title makes it seem as if all of the foods are unhealthy on the menu of panera, this is very misleading I would say. I think the message is clear that in this country eating out anywhere is very rarely healthy if one doesn’t make modifications to what they are ordering.

    • Karrina

      I love fooducate, it’s very helpful in making right food choices and everything, but the one thing I really don’t like is that they always have very misleading titles and articles that I don’t always agree with

      • Lauren

        The titles are not misleading, just attention grabbing. It’s a typical journalism tactic that all writers use. Unless that is you’re writing a doctoral thesis in which long winded accurate titles are required.

    • TJ

      A good chunk of the food at Panera is actually worse than some of the items at McDonalds. You could get a regular hamburger (not quarter pounder or Big Mac) and, when compared to a healthier sandwich at Panera such as the Sierra Turkey, the fat and sodium intake are about half the amount you would get if you had the turkey sandwich. Only problem is the burger would have more sugar and less protein, but I’d take more sugar over more sodium and fat any day since my diet is not sugar heavy anyways.

  • karinacocina

    One thing to consider is that customers at McDonald’s ordering a Big Mac are much more likely to increase their sodium/calories consumed due to the easy avaliablity of fries. Also with this Panera sandwich you are at least getting some veggies (and possibly more fiber?) than the Big Mac. Also fat content was not mentioned….I’m sure the Big Mac has a bigger saturated fat punch

    • Karrina

      That’s truee

  • Catherine

    It seems to me that you are comparing a very short list of items. What about the actual nutrients in the salad on the Panera sandwich? Not much nutrition on a big mac when all of it is processed. I appreciate you highlighting that the Panera sandwich is not the healthiest of choices necessarily though. I just assume when eating out that the sodium, carbs and fats are always going to be higher than if I make it at home – that is why restaurant/take-out food tastes good to most people!

  • H2O

    It is important to know what your putting in your body and not just think its healthy. Thanks for the insight.

  • Lindsay

    What about the fat? And lower quality meats? While I don’t know that I would eat Panara everyday I think its a much better chalice than most of the older chains and my stomach seems to agree. While I understand your point was awareness, I think the comparisons fell shy of a true picture and may lead people to think the sandwiches are both bad so they may as well go for the cheeper MacDonalds meal and all that accompanies it.

    • Charlie1106

      I just think they were attempting to bring to our attention that a Vegatable Sandwich had more calories in it than a Big Mac. Astonishing! Who would if thought. When your watching your caloric intake and think your making the better choice by ordering a veggie sandwich… Then realize that was a not so great choice. Who would of thought? Not me if I was in a rush and wasn’t familiar with the menus nutritional values. Which is usually the case since I don’t eat out a lot. If I’m with a group and they want to go to McDonalds I always order the fruit and maple oatmeal. I love it and it’s very filling. They serve it all day since all they do us add water..,

  • Amelia

    I don’t understand you, America. If you are going to have a sandwich for lunch why don’t you just make your own? Not only will you save money, but you will know exactly what is in it. It’s not like a sandwich is a difficult thing to prepare.

    • Baconup

      Because ‘America’ is lazy and entitled.

      • Chiefman13

        Because we are constantly in the go, I take it nobdy in your family let alone your country is lazy or entitled?

        • Peaceluvingruvy

          How did a comparison of panera and mcdonalds become so hostile?

        • PaneraGirl

          I work at a Panera Bread in Boston seeing this post in general angered me because we use all fresh ingredients. I just learned how to prepare everything there. The fruits and vegetable are all cut by hand on location and food gets rotated. I eat there every day I work and I’ve actually lost weight also most f the people who get good there are either tourists who don’t have a refrigerator or know what to buy for groceries or are working people. Most of them probably don’t have time in the morning to take care of their kids and make their lunch or breakfast so they stop by and get something at Panera Bread. Most of our options have reduced fat and there are many healthier options like the whole grain baguette, baked chips, kids yogurt, or even a fruit cup at a little additional charge. I take pride in the food I make and put on people’s plates. I’ve worked at other places where I wouldn’t say the same thing. Panera tries to serve quickly food with delicious and quality ingredients.

          • Marc Witz

            Don’t bother defending Panera, the Fooducate acolytes are out in force. Panera is the only ‘fast food’ place I go to, when I do go out. The food is good and the people there are nice.

          • Marc Witz

            I took exception at ‘lazy and entitled americans — and there seems to be a slew of people in agreement with that

          • Geri

            I agree, one of my favorite places to go! Most of us know how to make a meal if we are home! We don’t have to defend America either!

          • Stiffie Fornicatesthedead

            There are GMOs in Panera bread products and they hide MSG in their soups. Their breads aren’t even whole grains — refined white/wheat flour is NOT whole grain. If you think this food is healthy, be my guest. You’re still getting crap and paying a premium price. But I guess employees get a 65% discount on food, so at least you aren’t paying $7-8 for a sandwich anymore.

      • Marc Witz

        Really? Running around like a maniac to cover our taxes makes us lazy and entitled? Certainly we have SO MUCH free time to go shopping and make sure we always have the freshest ingredients available — or perhaps, just PERHAPS — people just want to sit down and eat and relax for the briefest of moments???

        • Jason Newstedt

          “Running around to cover our taxes?” I’m not entirely sure what that even means, but if you’re SO busy in your life you can’t even plan for simple meals you’re doing it wrong… No matter what country you’re in.

          • Marc Witz

            Of course — because I’m a lazy and entitled American

          • Jason Newstedt

            The first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem. We’ll done!

          • Marc Witz

            I have a great idea — how about you stop criticizing others and publish a self help book — telling everyone exactly how to arrange their lives. You obviously have it all covered. (1) Step One: Never go into a restaurant again, since you’re too lazy and entitled to cook at home – you need to force yourself to

          • unbelievable

            Let me get this straight. You have time to make all of these comments on an article, but you don’t have time to make a freakin’ sandwich? Seriously?

            Apparently you’re not that busy.

        • TJ

          A post by Fooducate earlier this year said that we spend hours watching TV and it only takes an hour or two to make a healthy meal. Hell, you can even make the meal while watching TV. We’ve just gotten used to the idea that cooking had to take forever and we can’t plan for a week in advance without taking half a day to shop and cook for it. Not true. I planned for 5 days of my week by shopping one afternoon and then cooking everything in advance the next day. The food I prepared was good for the next 5 days.

          • Lena

            Hours? It takes me only 20 minutes to prepare and cook chicken tenderloins, wild rice with quinoa and a steamed vegetable.

          • John

            Get a Foreman grill, throw on some chicken breast while you put a bag of Steamfresh veggies in the microwave and instant rice on the stove. All finished in 10 minutes, filling, and balanced (maybe add in a little fat). Obviously, it’s not the perfect meal in terms of flavor (though you can add spices), but it illustrates a point: a healthy meal can be made just as quickly as junk. Granted, the ingredients are more expensive.

          • DaleK

            @TJ you make a great point here – we American’s have been programmed by that same TV to believe a lot of things that just aren’t true so that we buy crap to solve our “problems”. We’re too busy, too tired, cooking is such a pita, we’re too old, not thin/fit enough, not rich enough, etc.

          • Karyn

            Hey TJ,
            It doesn’t even ake an hour or two to make a healthy meal. A lot of meals s can be done in 30 minutes or less!
            I plan and cook in advance too. It makes a huge difference.

        • Arturo Lopez

          Even if you are “busy”, make time for your health. You’d make time if your company if they asked you to do something for money wouldn’t you? Yet people won’t make time for their own well-being?

          • Marc Witz

            It’s nice to see how you agree americans are lazy and entitled and they eat at restaurants for all three meals a day, because they sit home watching TV, until it’s time to go out and eat. I DO EAT FRESH AT HOME, but screw you and everyone here who agrees that americans are lazy and entitled – and that Panera is as bad as a big mac — which is as big a load as americans besting lazy and entitled.

        • Arturo Lopez

          Well, Clearly you’re on the defensive here. However, If you could kindly remove your head from out from your ass and actually try to understand what I was saying; I am actually agreeing with you that people work very, very hard; too much even. So yes it’s much easier to just go sit down and relax. What I am saying is that peoples priorities are screwed up, they much rather work hard for other people yet won’t take the time to work hard to maintain a healthy body.

          • Marc Witz

            Arturo, you are right. Defensive? I am angry. As i dislike Americans being called ‘lazy and entitled,’ and that others here seemed to agree with that more. To you, I apologize, to the others, not at all. By the way, Fooducate once stated they see nothing wrong with HFCS, they may have changed their minds on that, but I stopped listening to them then. ANY 13 step chemical process cannot be good for you. Personally, I rarely eat out, I do make most of my own meals.

          • vardarac

            “ANY 13 step chemical process cannot be good for you.”

            Metabolism’s a bitch.

      • Myra

        Americans are also busy.

      • TuneIn_TurnOn

        Besides being lazy and entitled, some Americans who live outside of big cities don’t have many decent options when going out for a meal. Mom and pop restaurants are virtually gone in those areas so all they are left with are crappy chain family restaurants who offer poor choices disguised as the opposite. Ultimately, it’s the person’s own responsibility to make the right choice, I admit. Too many people believe in the “all natural” or “fat free” label, while they sip on their extra-large Coke or pour all the salad dressing they receive on their salad. No concept of nutrition and how to say “no” to this and “yes” to something else, like fruits and vegetables.

    • Kris50

      Why can’t somebody go to a restaurant, perhaps with a friend or someone, and enjoy a meal? Maybe, I don’t know, a sandwich, if that’s what they felt like eating that day? Why do we have to be lazy just for going to a restaurant?

  • Me

    What always gets my attention is the long list of ingredients on every bread on the maket. Considering that all US flour is enriched and all you need for a french bread is flour, water, yeast and salt, why the the ones from the store need all that non natural ultra refined ingredients?

    • jadegreen_eyz

      For shelf life. You can keep it out on your counter for over a month before it molds. I buy Brownberry Natural Wheat bread, it has a semi-long list of ingredients but if I refrigerate it, a loaf will last me 2 months or longer and I have yet to have a loaf grow mold.

      • Baconup

        Panera and other sandwich chains don’t need to put preservatives in their bread. They bake it all day long!! All those extra chemicals are unnecessary.

    • Renata Hazelman

      USDA and FDA requires food producers to provide a breakdown of all ingredients in food, i.e. brown sugar is sugar, molasses.this makes the list longer. Flour that you mention is actually: INGREDIENTS: UNBLEACHED HARD WHEAT ENRICHED FLOUR, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, NIACIN (A B VITAMIN), REDUCED IRON, THIAMIN MONONITRATE (VITAMIN B1), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), FOLIC ACID (A B VITAMIN). Looks a bit longer than your list already, no? That’s the ingredients for king Arthur ask purpose flour by the way.

    • Charlie1106

      All the unpronounceable ingredients at the end of the list of bread are to make it last longer on the grocery shelves. This started in the 1970′s. Before that a loaf if bread would last just a couple if days if left out on the counter. Fresh bread from in-store bakeries mold quickly because they don’t contain all the preservatives as the ones found on the bread isle.

  • Ariel

    suggestions of what to get at panera instead???

    • Karrina

      I think there’s a smoked turkey breast sandwich they serve that’s less in calories, higher in protein, less in carbs, but the sodium is still a little high. It’s what I would order if I went there, but I never have. They also serve salads, but that’s not always the ideal meal for some people.

    • davemacdo

      I’ve lost a lot of weight eating Panera about three times a week. I focus on the You-Pick-2 deal and get different soups and salads. The only thing to remember is ask for a different side instead of the baguette. They also have baked chips and apples.

      If I’m really tight for calories, the lowest YP2 combination is classic salad, chicken noodle soup, and an apple.

      • Lululee

        Just watch for the sodium and corn syrup

    • Marc Witz

      There’s a lot at Panera, you don’t have to get sandwiches, they have excellent salads that are healthy and filling.

      • Dawn McDaniel

        Be careful with choosing the salads too. There are some salads that have nearly half of the number of calories you are allowed for a whole day.

        • Dorothy

          What kind of salads are those? Because i have gain 12lb. Eating salads help me please

          • Dawn McDaniel

            When eating salads, most people eat them with toppings, dressings that are high in calories (don’t be fooled by the “Low calorie” dressings since few use what is considered to be a serving size), and are huge in portion. Vinaigrettes tend to be better calorie wise. Stay away from anything creamy. Remember that when you add chicken or other meats in with the salad that you must add those calories as well.

            If you’re looking to save calories, the classic salad is your lowest calorie, fat and sodium option, with 170 calories, 11 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 140 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carb, 3 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein in a whole serving — this includes the reduced-fat balsamic vinaigrette. Both the Caesar and the Greek salad are much higher in calories and fat. The Chicken Cobb is the highest one at this particular restaurant with 650 calories. Some restaurants have salads that go even higher than that one.

            https://www.panerabread.com/content/dam/panerabread/documents/nutrition/Panera-Nutrition.pdf

          • barbi60

            Have your salad dressing served on the side. I normally dip my fork into the dressing then take a bite of the greens. Less calories that way.

    • Jennifer

      The only thing I get there is the hummus power bowl it is the healthiest item on the menu, full sized & filling. It also tastes great!

      • Geri

        I agree. I found the hummus bowl by mistake. I absolutely love it. I get it with a large black iced coffee that has no calories. That way I’m getting energy from multiple sources, which I definitely need after my physical therapy sessions.

    • Eddie Ochoa

      As a baker at Panera, i recommend substituting the tomato basil bread with the stone milled rye. It’s delicious and has the added benefit of being stone ground..which is awesome. You can substitute the bread and any other ingredient for that matter on any sandwich and mostly anything else on the menu as well. A few new menu items that you should check out are the sprouted whole grain bagel or the flatbread sandwiches. You can even buy loves of bread to make your own sandwiches at home. Also, you can special order any bread with or without their topping, like the tomato basil sourdough loaf without the crumb topping for example which has all the sugar in it. I hope this helped :)

  • http://www.santabarbarasoulfood.com WowLookWhosCooking

    while recently at the mall and needing to eat something Panera seemed like the healthiest choice. The Asian flatbread with cilantro and ginger sounded like a great combination. Sadly, the shredded greens within were saturated with a super sweet dressing, there was about 2 ounces of chicken and a whole lot of bread. I’ve been hearing how great, how healthy this chain is but if this is one of the best choices out there, I feel sorry for those who don’t know how to cook. The meal was so sub-par, disappointing and deeply UNsatisfying

  • Pat in SNJ

    you forgot to mention the relative cost :-)

  • Jake

    Holy shit!! diglycerides!! i’m going to die!!!

  • Ć

    Shut the heck up.

  • Carol H

    Of course, with the veggie Panera sand you get much less saturated fat and more fiber (although it is disappointing that Panera doesn’t do more with whole grains in the bread). And anything with pickled peppers and feta cheese will have more sodium (and flavor). Bread tends to be the single highest source of sodium in a sandwich, and I am suspicious of the McD sodium data for a burger with a 3-piece bun situation. They must have a bread supplier that reduced the sodium for them … assuming the data is correct.
    As for adding protein to a sandwich via meat, the sodium will usually go way up, because preserved meats are full of sodium. And once you add your own/additional condiments (or more cheese), add another 200-500 mg sodium.

    • http://www.friendlyphotozone.com/ Friendly Photo Zone

      Actually the reason the Big Mac has less sodium is because it’s smaller and therefore uses less bread volume than a Panera sandwich. All that sodium is concentrated in a much smaller package. But the article author didn’t bother to compare these sandwiches by weight, he just blindly listed some cherry-picked nutrition data which supported the headline. He probably found a hair in his Panera sandwich last week or something, and when someone pointed out he was the only person in sight with purple hair, he got mad that he didn’t get a free sandwich. (see? I can leap to false conclusions as well as the author can!)

  • Cynthia

    Shame on you Fooducate, more fear-mongering… you neglected to mention the amount of fat contained in the two items.

  • Dwan

    Just give me the big Mac daddy ..yum

  • Joanne Lee

    I feel that some people in this discussion are missing the point. Fooducate……an app to educate you about food! It gives you information so that you can make an informed decision before you eat something. No one is telling you that you shouldn’t eat a panera’s sandwich. They’re just pointing out some of the caveats so you can make your own choice. Don’t shoot the messenger! The Meditteranean veggie sandwich has always been one of my go to foods at Panera. I do it as a pick 2 with a salad. If I feel like having that sandwich I can still have and adjust my intake of other foods accordingly.

    • http://www.friendlyphotozone.com/ Friendly Photo Zone

      Wrong, this article laced the “information” with biased opinions and unfounded conclusions, not to mention glossing over all kinds of important differences between a Panera Bread sandwich and a Big Mac. This is really no better than the FUD that big corporations spread in the name of GMO and refined sugar.

  • Lauren

    I’m shocked. Even healthy looking things are crazy high in sodium. Makes me appreciate my mom’s bland food even more. This article also makes me sad. Why restaurants, why?

  • Stars

    I would very much like to see your sources for this, fooducate team. Also, no, just because an ingredients list is long does not make it “scary.” You guys are seriously starting to sound like the people who find “monohydrogen dioxide” scary but are just fine with it if you call it “water.” Stop being afraid of chemical names for things, it’s embarrassing.

    • Nancy Ann Dalton

      And YES, the long list of ingredients IS SCARY!!!

      • http://www.friendlyphotozone.com/ Friendly Photo Zone

        No it’s not. There are really just 11 ingredients on the veggie sandwich list: XL Loaf, cilantro, jalapeno hummus, cucumber, tomatoes, peppadew, red onion, lettuce, feta cheese, salt, black pepper.

        The rest are sub-ingredients for some of the prepared foods in the sandwich, like the ingredients for the bread and for the hummus, none of which are very scary at all.They’re found on most breads and hummus bought just about anywhere, and I recognize what most of them are with a quick glance. Also, some of the ingredients sit in a water solution for freshness, so the ingredients of the water solution must be listed too, even though their importance in the ingredients list is magnified by being way out of order in regards to actual content weight.

        ANY prepared sandwich with ingredients that are stored to retain freshness will have an ingredients list that looks terrifying if you start breaking down all of its components.

    • Nancy Ann Dalton

      • http://www.friendlyphotozone.com/ Friendly Photo Zone

        Just because that commenter spelled it wrong doesn’t make the point any less valid. Dihydrogen monoxide, if you prefer.

  • Justanotherbug

    STOP eating out, how can anyone not make a sandwich at home for less and better for the body. I can’t stand to see people raising children on non home cooked meals. Must be the same people that blame everyone else for their problems too. Sick of lazy people!!!!

  • Cindy

    I mean, if we’re going to compare the two, why not go all out and compare cholesterol and fat content? Or do those not matter? I don’t think you can rely on restaurant items to be “healthy,” but it’s not really fair to say the mediterranean veggie sandwich wins only by a “small” margin.

  • Cindy

    Also, there is a huge difference in the “long list” of ingredients between the two. One list is mostly naturally occurring, and I say “mostly” because while I recognize most of them (eg citric acid, and ascorbic acid which is vitamin C), I don’t know them all, but they coukd probably be googled). The other list is full of preservatives and other junk. The naturally occurring list is not in the Big Mac.

  • Oldtreker

    First, lots of Americans never set foot in fast food places. Many of them have added more healthy choices to their menus. An occasional meal is not harmful.
    There are McDonalds and others all around the world so I guess the whole world is lazy !!!
    People are sneaking across our borders to get here, so we must be doing something right

  • spanishdncr

    The issue with salads is the dressing as many of them are high in sodium and fat. The best thing to put on a salad is a bit of orange juice or a squeeze of lemon juice.

  • Last Resort

    I’d like to point out the Panera has been proactive in trying to feed the homeless. What has McDonalds done? Otherwise, criticize away.

  • http://www.organiclifestylemagazine.com jMichaelEdwards

    That sandwich is way healthier than the McDonalds Burger. This writer doesn’t understand health.

  • Bob

    So I guess the only healthy thing to eat is a lettuce and carrot sandwich hold the sandwich :/

  • Mom

    Make ur own at home! Save your health and ur money!

  • Jose

    Really informative article. Unless u know what its made of u gotta be extra careful even if it seems good. Its great to know wat you’re eating. Thanks for the info.

  • Who am I to judge.

    This blog is to help one another. It is not to get into a discution on what other people are doing wrong. Please don’t lose your focus. We all know how to help ourselves. We all have the answers. All that may be needed is a little encouragement. I am very thankful for this app revealing this misrepresentation. I found it to be insightful.

  • breezanemom

    People talk about azodicarbonamide and how it “causes respiratory problems”, but this is only if INHALED. Eating it doesn’t cause respiratory problems. Do I like the fact that it’s in my bread? The FDA considers it safe and they have done far more testing than I have.

    I do like Panera’s salads, but will be much more careful what I eat there now, as I thought their food was better than fast food. Apparently I was wrong.

  • http://www.bemoreuniversity.com/ Jimmy Burgess

    This article really helped me. Trying to eat less gluten. Any suggestions? My family and I eat at Panera a couple times a month.

  • Jackyb

    You guys should try Muscle Maker Grill Restaurant! It’s fast healthy food that’s actually taste great! Check to see if there is one by you! They seem to be popping up everywhere!

  • Jackyb

    They have lots of Gluten Free options as well! Prices are comparable to Panera and in some areas much lower!

  • LCR

    Dear Fooducate Readers: Just checking my monthly subscription of the news letter and reviewing the comments which often give me insight and good ideas for continuing to manage a healthy lifestyle. However, I am not helped in the least, nor do I imagine are others, by this international mudslinging fest being indulged in over the subject of whether or not an individual chooses to eat a meal in a restaurant. Is it possible to rechannel the enthusiasm used to verbally trample others, offering instead comments that will support us all and elevate the writer, both as a compassionate human being and as a sharer of information, regardless of the postal/zip code in which we live?

  • gfermann

    PEOPLE! This is not the space to argue how people spend their hours. If you HAPPENED to be ordering at Panera (a friend asks to meet you there for lunch; you are traveling and settle on this as a compromise; someone is buying lunch for the office…), what is the healthiest thing to choose? Read the available nutrition info and make informed choices. Since I eat low carb, I don’t like that they only have bread, chips, or apples as sides! How about carrots+ hummus!

  • Cesskye

    In general, people think that anything with vegetables is healthy. Most people would think that a salad is healthy but then they load it up with fatty dressings. Commercially prepared foods will have many ingredients most of which are used as preservatives and flavor enhancers. It is always best best to prepare your own meals at home using fresh and healthy ingredients. Most people who are trying to reduce their weight could ruin a week’s worth of healthy diet and workout with one dinner in a restaurant.

  • Tell The Whole Story

    one factor not covered: FAT
    27g, 42% of daily value in the Big Mac
    12g, 18% of daily value in the Panera Sandwich.

    VASTLY better at Panera there.

  • Geri

    Because we like to get out occasionally with friends. Some of us don’t eat meat!

  • Howlindawgs

    What is the total and saturated fat content of each sandwich? Or does nobody care about that any more because carbs are now the “evil” that fat once was?

  • Juls

    Word for the day………..MODERATION……………….EVERYTHING in moderation then you can eat anything you want!!!

  • Robin

    Don’t even start to compare a compassionate veggie sandwich to a murdered animal sandwich! One high in cholesterol and death!

  • Klaire

    This article is complete BS! There is no way you are going to make me believe that eating a sandwich made of cucumber, tomato, lettuce and feta cheese is as bad as eating a sandwich made of 2 patties of fried beef, american cheese and a mayo based special sauce because of the bread. People will say anything to get attention and be controversial.

  • Amanda Butler

    At least panera didn’t have soy or high fructose corn syrup either