Subway is one of the original “fast casual” establishments that bridged the gap between fast food and a healthy meal for American consumers. The brand has 13 different types of bread that can be ordered for their home-made sandwiches.
But what ingredients are actually in Subway’s bread other than wheat? Are there unhealthy fillers? Which bread is the healthiest choice? And why did a court in Ireland rule that Subway’s bread can’t actually be classified as bread?
In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more, as we analyze the ingredients in every bread sold by Subway to give our take on the healthiest option.
We’ll explain why a court in Ireland ruled that Subway’s bread can’t be classified as bread, and highlight some questionable additive ingredients used by Subway.
The Parmesan Oregano bread from Subway has 50 ingredients, as shown above.
This isn’t a problem in and of itself, but it suggests that a number of fillers and preservatives are used. There are some ingredients in the bread sold by Subway that may be questionable from a health perspective.
Citric acid can cause whole-body inflammatory reactions according to a medical review published in the Toxicology Reports journal.
Folic acid is a synthetic form of a B-vitamin that may increase cancer risk according to at least one clinical trial.
Natural flavors is a broad descriptor that may include some flavoring chemicals that are unhealthy to humans, as we documented in our article on are Slim Jims bad for you.
Sugar is mentioned two separate times, and a 2019 medical review documented that added sugar in excess can contribute to obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Skim milk and cheese cultures are included, but there is no mention of whether these products are sourced from grass-fed animals. We consider pastured dairy to be healthier than dairy from conventionally-raised animals due to the nutrient density and omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio.
Sodium acid pyrophosphate is included in Subway’s Gluten-Free Bread, and this ingredient was shown in a 2018 animal study to “exert hematotoxic and immunotoxic effects with long-term exposure.”
Our pick for the healthiest Subway bread is the Artisan Flatbread, ingredients shown below:
This bread contains folic acid and sugar, but is preservative-free, flavoring-free and free of conventional dairy. This is a much simpler and cleaner ingredient label in our opinion than the one highlighted at the beginning of this article.
But why did a court in Ireland rule that Subway’s bread has to be reclassified? We’ll feature a video explaining that circumstance in the next section of this article.
We Tried Subway's Healthiest Bread
As the author of this article, I wanted to try Subway's healthiest bread myself to share my thoughts on its taste and value.
I bought a footlong chicken and cheese sandwich on Artisan Flatbread at my local Subway.
First of all, this bread tastes much better than regular Subway bread. It has a soft, doughy texture and simply tastes fresher than the rubbery regular bread they use.
I don't typically eat Subway, but if I go back I would order this bread again.
This meal cost $13.90 (with no drinks or sides) which is way too expensive for the value in my opinion. For that same price I could get two small sandwiches at a local sandwich shop with healthier, local ingredients.
Eating a Subway Flatbread artisan sandwich is a healthier option than most fast food places offer, and it's likely fresher than the other types of bread.
Is Subway’s Bread Not Actually Bread?
A YouTube video from “The Food Theorists” delves into some interesting and surprising history on Subway, including the fact that a court in Ireland suggested it should be reclassified as cake. The video has over 7 million views: