A COMPARISON: Tuna sandwiches

A side-view of half of a toasted tuna sandwich, loaded with tuna, green onion, lettuce, tomato and light provolone cheese on whole wheat bread.I used to think that a tuna sandwich was a healthy meal choice. In theory, it is. But no two tuna sandwiches are the same, it seems, and some are better for you than others. Admittedly, I am not a big fish-eater, so eating the tuna out of the can without any mayo is a cringe-worthy thought for me. Tuna salad sandwiches are my “thing” and pretty much the only way I get any fish into my diet.

But let’s compare: my old tuna salad sandwich to my new tuna salad sandwich. Both are between two pieces of bread. Both have cheese. Both have butter, lettuce and tomato. One is toasted. One is not. But one of these things is not like the other, so to speak. Let’s have a closer look, shall we?

Ingredients for the Old Sandwich

  • 2 slices white bread (usually something like Wonder, so long as it was VERY fresh)
  • 1 Tbsp butter (salted)
  • 1.5 Tbsp Hellman’s mayo
  • 1/2 can Clover Leaf Solid White Tuna in Water
  • 1/2 stalk chopped green onion
  • salt & pepper to taste (usually a dash of each)
  • 2 slices of tomato
  • 1 leaf of iceberg lettuce
  • cheddar cheese (enough to cover the slice of bread, so about 19-21g or so)

Now, let’s have a look at the nutritional value of this sandwich: 561 calories, 41g carbs, 34g fat, 27g protein, 1083mg sodium, 7g sugars

Ouch. Look at that sodium level! The carbs, fat and sugars are embarrassing, too. The calories, for an entire meal, aren’t bad, but could be better. And to think… I used to have two of these at a sitting on occasion. I’d eat over 2000mg of sodium just in one meal. Shocking!

I know that I’m doing better now. Have a look at the comparison:

Ingredients for the New Sandwich

  • 2 slices Weight Watchers whole wheat bread, toasted
  • 1 Tbsp butter (unsalted)
  • 1.5 Tbsp Hellman’s 1/2 fat mayo
  • 1/2 can Clover Leaf Solid White Tuna Low Sodium in Water
  • 1/2 stalk chopped green onion
  • dash of pepper
  • dash of Mrs Dash Table Blend seasoning
  • 2 slices of tomato
  • 1 leaf of Boston/leafy lettuce
  • 1 slice of PC Blue Menu Provolone Cheese (19g)

Nutritional value of this sandwich: 401 calories, 25g carbs, 22g fat, 27g protein, 517mg sodium, 3g sugars

Wow. What a difference. You could cut the fat in half by omitting the butter (there’s 12g of fat in the butter alone) — there’s likely enough mayo in the tuna mixture to omit it, especially if you don’t toast the bread. I just like butter on my toast. That will likely be the next change for me.

The calories are better, but take a look at the sodium and sugar difference! The sodium difference comes from the difference in mayo, the bread, the unsalted butter, the different cheese and the low sodium tuna. The lower sugar is from the different bread and lettuce, believe it or not. I found that iceberg lettuce has a sugar content that Boston or leafy (darker green) lettuce doesn’t seem to have. The difference in the carbs is also another ‘blow me away’ figure. From 41g to 25g. That’s a huge difference for me, especially when I’m carb-counting.

This sandwich as a meal leaves room for something on the side, like a salad, some fruit, or a nice glass of skim milk. (Please don’t go, “Ew!” I’ve been drinking skim milk since I was 10 years old, so for me, drinking 1% is “Ew!” *laughs*) The sodium isn’t outrageous like the old method of sandwich was. And honestly, I’m not left craving anything afterward. I find it to be very rewarding.

Can’t find Weight Watchers bread?  Don’t sweat it. Even regular whole wheat bread makes a difference. To compare:

Weight Watchers multigrain bread (2 slices): 110 calories, 20g carbs, 1g fat, 4g protein, 160mg sodium, 2g sugars

Wonder Bread whole wheat (2 slices): 150 calories, 34g carbs, 3g fat, 8g protein, 280mg sodium, 3g sugars

Sure, the carbs in regular bread push the sandwich back up to be comparable to the original way I used to make my sandwich, but it’s doable.  Just watch your values for whatever you have with the sandwich, right?

All told, as much as I love a tuna salad sandwich on nice, fresh white bread, I won’t be grabbing for that white bread again anytime soon. If I have it at social events, I’ll be grabbing for the whole wheat option if I can, or sticking to the quarter sandwiches and maybe only having half of a sandwich in total, max, rather than 4 quarters to make a whole sandwich.

The only issue I have is that finding the low sodium tuna can be tricky. So far, I’ve only found it at one grocery store  in my area, but I’m going to keep looking when I’m at other stores. So you know, it looks like this:

A can of tuna which reads, "Clover Leaf solid white tuna low sodium in water".

One thought on “A COMPARISON: Tuna sandwiches

  1. Pingback: Lower sodium tuna croquettes | cyberpantry

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