How to Make Healthy Eating Choices at Panera Bread

Panera Bread is the fast food chain that specializes in gourmet breads, soups and sandwiches. This may sound healthy, but don’t let the soup and salad front fool you, those meals can pack more calories and fat than a Big Mac…meal. But if the convience of fast food, and free wireless internet draw you in, you can still eat reasonably healthy, if you know what to look for.

Breads: This is the stale of the Panera Company, so they put lots of time into creating different varieties. As always, some types are better than others.

Eat This: Lower-Carb Italian Herb Loaf- (per slice) 80 calories, 1g fat, 0g sat fat, 160mg sodium, 4g fiber.

Not That: Asiago Cheese Demi, Loaf- (per 2oz) 150 calories, 4g fat, 2.5g sat fat, 0g trans fat, 320mg sodium, 1g fiber.

If you choose Panera’s lower-carb breads you will not only save on calories, but you’ll save yourself 2.5g of artery clogging saturated fat. Not to mention the Asiago cheese loaf has twice the amount of sodium, and 3g less of filling fiber.

Soups: Panera’s soups, like most soups, are packed with salt, and served with a hunk of baguette bread. If you’re daring, (and aren’t doing low-carb) Panera offers a bread bowl.

Eat This: Low-Fat Vegetarian Black Bean Soup- (per 8 oz) 160 calories, 1g fat, 0g sat fat, 0g trans fat, 820mg sodium, 11g fiber.

Not That: Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice Soup- (per 8oz) 200 calories, 12g fat, 6g sat fat, 0g trans fat, 970mg sodium, 1g fiber.

You should be tipped off by the name, “cream” usually means “fat” when it comes to soups. If you choose Panera’s Black Bean Soup instead of the chicken, you’ll thank yourself later. You’ll be 40 calories and 11 grams of fat lighter, with 6 grams less of saturated fat. Also, Panera packs 11 grams of fiber into their bean soup which should keep your body clean.

Sandwiches: The sandwiches at Panera Bread are amazing. I love the Portobello & Mozzarella Panini, but I almost had a heart attack when I found out it has 750 calories! So watch out, and read on to find some lighter fare at Panera.

Eat This: Smoked Turkey Breast on Artisan Country (13.5oz serving)- 590 calories, 15g fat, 2.5g sat fat, 0g trans fat, 2220mg sodium, 5g fiber.

Not That: Italian Combo Sandwich (17oz)-1110 calories, 56g fat, 20g sat fat, 0g trans fat, 3200mg sodium, 5g fiber.

Well, this round, you have to pick the best of the worst. Panera’s sandwiches are almost all packed full of sodium, fat, and calories. If you do go for a panini, try the Smoked Turkey Breast sandwich which still has 15 grams of fat, and almost a whole day’s worth of salt. This looks very healthy next to the Combo, which packs a days worth of saturated fat, and about a day and a half’s worth of sodium. Just think about that.

Dessert: If you can find it, Panera sometimes has fruit salads which make for a great dessert, to top off your meal from Panera Bread. And try to stay away from the pastry counter, it only means bad things.

Eat This: Fruit Cup (10oz)- 150 Calories, 0g fat, 0g sat fat, 0g trans fat, 30mg sodium, 2g fiber

Not That: Cinnamon Roll (6oz)- 590 calories, 26g fat, 11g sat fat, 0g trans fat, 490mg sodium, 3g fiber

Now, I know it’s tough to compare a fruit cup to the probably delicious cinnamon roll. But this fruit cup is probably the most healthy thing inside any Panera Bread Co. store. If you find the will power to pick the fruit over the roll, you’ll reduce your calorie intake by 440 calories, and 26 grams of fatty acids. In addition, you’ll probably feel healthier and better about yourself.

So, now you know, I hope you make the right choices.

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