Festive sandwiches sold on Britain’s high streets can contain as many calories as one-and-a-half Big Macs, analysis shows.
Options sold at the likes of M&S, Starbucks and Pret can be packed with as much sugar as one-and-a-half Krispy Kreme doughnuts and be as salty as 10 packets of Walkers crisps.
Sandwiches on offer this year include Christmas dinner stuffed between slices of bread, pigs in blanket toasties and brie and cranberry baguettes.
MailOnline’s audit found the worst offender — Asda’s Festive Feast Wrap — has 824 calories. And that’s before adding a drink or snack.
It contains turkey, sausages, smoked bacon, stuffing, a gravy mayo and cranberry chutney.
Christmas dinner stuffed between slices of bread, pigs in blanket toasties and brie and cranberry baguettes are just some of the tasty options available at the likes of M&S , Starbucks and Pret. But while the festive period is often seen as a time for indulgence, some may be shocked to find out these lunchtime options are also packed with as much sugar as one and a half Krispy Kreme doughnuts
A McDonald’s Big Mac, by comparison, boasts 493 calories.
As a guide, men should eat no more than 2,500 calories a day. For women, they’re advised to stick to 2,000 or below.
Full results of MailOnline’s probe, involving 60+ festive-themed sandwiches, wraps and baguettes, are published in a fascinating table, which allows you to search for your favourite lunchtime option.
Pret’s Christmas Lunch Baguette, filled with turkey, cranberry sauce, pork stuffing and crispy onions, was the next worst offender with 702.
Baguettes typically contain more calories than sandwiches, partly because portion sizes are larger.
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Christmas Cracker Club Sandwich, which is full of chicken, bacon, stuffing, chutney and is made with three slices of bread, contained 661 calories — more than three Kit Kat Chunky bars.
Asda’s Festive Feast Wrap, meanwhile, topped the highest salt content chart as well as being the most calorific. It contains 3.7g, over half an adult’s daily recommended salt allowance.
Adults are told to stick to less than 6g per day. Kids should eat even less.
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Eating too much salt can raise blood pressure by increasing the amount of water the body retains, putting extra pressure on the blood vessel walls. This can, over time, increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Caffè Nero’s Pigs Under Blankets Panini, stuffed with pork sausages, smoked bacon, cheddar cheese and a balsamic onion chutney, was the next worst offender, with 3.5g — equivalent to 10 bags of Walker’s ready salted crisps.
Meanwhile, the Jingle Brie-LT from M&S contained 3.4g per portion.
Even though the lunchtime picks are a savoury option, MailOnline’s audit also found some had nearly twice as much sugar as sweet snacks.
WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?
- Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count;
- Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally wholegrain;
- 30 grams of fibre a day: This is the same as eating all of the following: 5 portions of fruit and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of wholemeal bread and large baked potato with the skin on;
- Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks) choosing lower fat and lower sugar options;
- Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily);
- Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consuming in small amounts;
- Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day;
- Adults should have less than 6g of salt and 20g of saturated fat for women or 30g for men a day.
Source: NHS Eatwell Guide
Among the worst offenders include the Christmas Club Sandwich from M&S, with 20.2g of sugar.
For comparison, a Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnut has 12g.
Layered with chicken, maple bacon, cranberry chutney, stuffing, spinach, pickled red cabbage and a gravy mayo, the sandwich is also among the most calorific options at 623 calories.
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Christmas Cracker Club Sandwich also logged 19g of sugar per portion.
Pret’s Christmas Nut Roast sandwich, meanwhile, contained 17.4g of sugar — despite possibly being perceived as more healthy, as it is meat-free.
Eating too much sugar over time can lead to weight gain and tooth decay.
NHS guidance sets the maximum daily intake at 30g of free sugars a day, or 210g per week.
The NHS sugar limits only apply to free sugars — those added to products — rather than those found naturally in milk, fruit and vegetables. Some of the sugar content of festive sandwiches will be from natural sources.
As well as the 30g of free sugars per day limit, the government recommends these sugars should not make up more than 5 per cent of the calories a person gets from food and drink each day.
Dr Duane Mellor, a registered dietitian and senior lecturer at Aston University, told MailOnline that many people think of a sandwich as a ‘snack or a light meal’.
He said: ‘So it is worth remembering that almost all of these festive offerings can contain more calories than a ready meal version of a spaghetti bolognaise or chilli.
‘If you are wanting to have one of these sandwiches, it is important not to add extras such as mince pies or syrup loaded coffees.
‘Instead maybe a portion of fruit and a regular tea or coffee with a splash or milk or water if you need something to go with your sandwich.’
The shockingly high sugar content in the sandwiches is likely due to the sauces within the sandwiches, Dr Mellor said.
Meanwhile, people should be aware that eating one of these sandwiches could account for more than half of their daily recommended salt intake, he added.
A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: ‘We are committed to offering choice, quality and value and clearly label our products with nutritional information to help our customers make informed decisions about the products they choose to buy.’
A spokesperson for M&S said: ‘Our festive sandwiches are a special treat, in store for the weeks leading up to Christmas when we know customers like to try something different.
‘They sit alongside our normal range of sandwiches, sushi and salads, many of which carry our Eat Well flower, making it easy to spot healthy options.
‘Customers choosing our festive sandwiches not only get a delicious, limited edition lunch, but also help to tackle homelessness as 5 per cent of all sales go to Shelter.’