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Five Ways to "Eat Fresh" and Build a Better Lunch

Pile the veggies high! (Photo courtesy of Subway)

Written by Lauren Cardarelli, Editorial Intern

Subway is known for promoting nutritious, fresh produce and made-to-order food (remember Jared and his amazing slimdown?). By recently introducing avocado to their menu and reducing sodium levels, the world’s largest restaurant chain has improved its reputation in the health world once again. We had the opportunity to get the skinny on the healthy, fast food by chatting with Lanette Kovachi, MS, RD, Subway’s Corporate Dietician for almost 10 years, and Rachel Johnson, PhD, MPH, RD, member and vice-chair of the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee. Here are the top five tips we picked up to build a better lunch:

  1. Load up the veggies. “We have lettuce, tomato, cucumber, green pepper, onions,” Kovachi said. “Add in all those vegetables, you get two servings of veggies. Bulk up the sandwich without adding many calories.”
  2. No need to skip the condiments. “With our sandwiches, there’s room to add things and you’re still keeping it under 500 calories, which is a pretty good calorie level for a 6-inch sandwich,” Kovachi said. Looking to make some healthy swaps? Try avocado instead of mayonnaise on your sandwich or cut down on salad dressing calories with olive oil and vinegar.
  3. Think beyond the sandwich. “I think there are lots of other healthy choices when you think about beverages,” said Johnson. “There’s water. They have milk, which, you know, most Americans have a shortfall of calcium and vitamin D, so that’s a great option.” Consider pairing your sub and drink with a bag of baked chips or apple slices to complete your meal.
  4. Personalize while reaping the taste and nutrition you desire. Subway provides a plethora of healthy components so it’s hard to not have your cake—or should we say sub—and eat it, too. Start with one of the eight Fresh Fit sandwiches and customize with protein-rich meats, high-fiber breads (now fortified with calcium and vitamin D) and low-calorie vegetables!
  5. Skimp on sodium without feeling deprived. The folks at Subway pride themselves on recently reducing sodium levels without affecting ingredient taste or quality. After years of evaluating and improving upon every sandwich component, the Subway Fresh Fit lineup has seen a 28 percent sodium reduction with a 15 percent reduction across the menu. “We had all the other bases covered with the fat and calories, vegetable quantity, fiber so this was the next step to really make the sandwich a complete nutritional package,” Kovachi said.

More from FITNESS: Make gourmet sandwiches at home with these recipes from top TV chefs.