Eating low sodium at any restaurant can be a challenge. Fast food, and sandwiches, in particular are a salty item. In fact, about 20% of the salt we eat in the United States comes from sandwiches alone! (1)
Interestingly, we are pretty bad at guessing how much sodium is in our restaurant meals. One study found we underestimate how much salt we eat at restaurants by about 1,000mg! (2)
Does this mean you have to avoid Subway® and other restaurants on a low sodium diet? Of course not! You just need to make smart low sodium choices.
Keep reading for my tips and tricks for a low sodium diet at Subway®.
Disclaimer: All nutrition information used for this article was gathered in December 2022 from Subway. Although I make an effort to keep all posts updated, nutritional content may change at any time.
Where Does All the Sodium at Subway® Come From?
As always, it is a combination of things. The sodium in sandwich ingredients add up quickly! The amount of sodium in a standard 6-inch Subway® sandwich ranges anywhere from about 1,000-2,300mg of sodium.
Around 300mg of sodium comes from the bread and 600-900mg from deli meat.
The sodium from other toppings, cheese and sauce make up the difference.
The Best Low Sodium Subway® Choices
Never fear Subway® fans! You can absolutely enjoy Subway® on a low sodium diet. Subway® is probably never going to be as low sodium as a homemade sandwich. At home, you have complete control over all of the ingredients. Check out my tips for building your own healthy sandwich at home!
However, you can easily put together a Subway® meal that fits in your daily sodium goal.
Here are my favorite low sodium options at Subway®!
6″ Tuna Sandwich (670mg sodium)
Multigrain bread + tuna + veggies + red wine vinegar = 670mg sodium
Some people are not tuna fans, while others love it. I’ve always been on team tuna!
The tuna sandwich at Subway® with all the fresh vegetables on multigrain bread has only 670mg of sodium. This is quite reasonable considering most people should aim for about 2,300mg of sodium per day. (3)
I love to add red wine vinegar to my tuna sandwich for an extra punch of flavor! This adds ZERO extra sodium!
6″ Rotisserie-Style Chicken Sandwich (710mg sodium)
Multigrain bread + rotisserie chicken + veggies + mayonnaise (optional) = 775mg sodium
A 6″ rotisserie chicken sandwich on multigrain bread with all the fresh vegetables has 710mg of sodium.
I like to add mayonnaise to this one, for an extra 65mg of sodium.
6″ Veggie Delight (320mg sodium)
Multigrain bread + veggies + swiss cheese (optional) + low-fat sweet onion teriyaki (optional) = 425mg sodium
For those of you who are vegetarian, or trying to limit protein for kidney health, the veggie delight is a wonderful option!
I like to add cheese for some extra calories and fat to help fill me up! Swiss cheese only adds an extra 30mg of sodium per 6-inch sandwich.
The Veggie Delight is so low sodium, you can easily add some higher sodium sauces I love the sweet onion sauce. The low-fat version has less sodium (75mg) compared to the regular sweet onion teriyaki (160mg).
6″ Grilled Chicken Sandwich
Multigrain bread + grilled chicken + veggies + honey mustard (optional) = 610mg sodium
Another chicken option! Grilled chicken is one of the lower sodium protein choices at Subway®.
I like to add honey mustard to this sandwich for some extra flavor, which adds an extra 80mg of sodium.
Rotisserie Style Chicken Salad (470mg sodium)
Salad + olive oil & vinegar dressing= 470mg sodium
Salads are definitely not always the lowest sodium choice. In fact, many times salads are one of the higher sodium options on a menu due to ingredients like bacon, dressing and cheese. This is why it is so important to always check the Nutrition Facts when eating out!
However, salads can be a wonderful way to fill up on veggies! If you go with a salad at Subway®, be careful to choose a lower sodium protein and salad dressing. That is where the sodium can really add up.
Lower Sodium Salad Dressing at Subway®
- Oil & Vinegar (0mg sodium)
- Honey Mustard (160mg sodium)
- Caesar (260mg sodium)
- Fat-Free Sweet Onion Teriyaki Sauce (150mg sodium)
- Peppercorn Ranch Sauce (200mg)
Pro Tip: Use half the standard dressing portion to cut the sodium in half!
Highest Sodium Choices at Subway®
On the flip side, here are some of the saltiest meals at Subway®.
- 6″ Buffalo Chicken (1360mg sodium)
- 6″ Spicy Italian (1280mg sodium)
- 6″ Chicken & Bacon (1530mg sodium)
- Chicken & Bacon Ranch on Tomato Basil Wrap (2,470mg sodium)
- 6″ All American Club Fresh Melt (1640mg sodium)
- Buffalo Chicken Protein Bowl (2,080mg sodium)
Tips for Building a Low Sodium Subway® Meal
You certainly don’t have to stick with my personal favorite low sodium Subway® choices. Branch out and build your own low sodium Subway® meal!
Here are some things to keep in mind to keep your meal as low sodium as possible.
Limit the Deli Meat
By far, deli meat is the highest sodium ingredient in Subway® sandwiches. Try to stick to the non-deli meat options to keep sodium low.
Deli meat is also generally packed with phosphorus additives, which can be dangerous for people with kidney disease.
Here are the lowest sodium options at Subway®:
- Bacon (170mg sodium)
- Chicken Patty (300mg sodium)
- Grilled Chicken (220mg sodium)
- Rotisserie-Style Chicken (400mg sodium)
- Tuna Salad (310mg sodium)
- Veggie Patty (320mg sodium)
Leave the protein out and opt for a vegetarian meal to keep the sodium even lower!
Choose a Lower Sodium Bread
Bread is a surprising high sodium ingredient! Bread will add anywhere from 310-780mg of sodium!
Wraps are the highest sodium bread choice at Subway®. The spinach wrap has 780mg of sodium. The tomato basil has 730mg sodium.
The lowest sodium bread options at Subway® are:
- Multigrain (310mg sodium per 6″)
- Artisan Flatbread (360mg per 6″)
- Italian (350mg per 6″)
Watch out for the biscuit, which has 960mg of sodium! The gluten free bread has 800mg.
Opt For Lower Sodium Cheese
There is a big difference in sodium content of cheese at Subway®. On the high end, American cheese on a 6-inch has 210mg of sodium. Compare that to only 30mg with Swiss cheese.
Here are the lowest sodium cheese choices at Subway®: (all per amount of cheese on a 6-inch sandwich)
- Parmesan (25mg sodium)
- Swiss (30mg sodium)
- Fresh Mozzarella (55mg sodium)
- Grated Monterey Cheddar (90mg sodium)
- Shredded Mozzarella (85mg sodium)
Choose Low Sodium Sauce & Flavorings
Sauce and flavorings are key to making your Subway® sandwich tasty! You do not need to avoid them!
There are plenty of lower sodium options:
- Oil & Vinegar (0mg sodium)
- Mayonnaise (65mg sodium)
- Lite Mayonnaise (90mg sodium)
- Fat-Free Sweet Onion Sauce (75mg sodium)
- Honey Mustard (80mg sodium)
- Peppercorn Ranch Sauce (100mg sodium)
- Black pepper (0mg sodium)
- Oregano (0mg sodium)
You can always ask for a half portion of any sauce to make it lower sodium!
Limit High Sodium Sandwich Toppings
Load up on all of the fresh vegetables to make a filling low sodium sandwich. Fresh vegetables have little to no sodium. Plus, vegetables are key to any kidney-friendly meal!
Low or no sodium options:
- Spinach (limit if you need a low oxalate diet)
- Bell Peppers
- Sliced Avocado
Limit these higher sodium options:
- Pickles (115mg per 3 chips)
- Banana peppers (65mg per 3 rings)
- Pickled jalapenos (70mg per 3 rings)
- Smashed avocado (115mg per portion)
Stick with a Low Sodium Side
Don’t forget that sides can add quite a bit of sodium too!
If available, fruit is a great option! Some Subway® locations offer fresh fruit. Many have applesauce, which is low sodium too.
Chips will add some sodium to your meal, but you may be able to fit them in your sodium budget! Check the Nutrition Facts on the varieties offered at your Subway® to pick the lowest sodium option. Most chips have about 200mg of sodium per individual bag.
Be very careful with soup. Soup has anywhere from 690mg sodium (Broccoli Cheddar) to 800mg (Beef Chili with Beans).
If you are craving something sweet, the cookies only have 100-125mg of sodium. Watch out for the muffins, which have 370-440mg of sodium each.
Low Sodium Breakfast at Subway®
If you find yourself at Subway® for breakfast here are the lowest sodium options:
- 6″ Egg White & Cheese Flatbread (870mg sodium)
- 6″ Egg & Cheese Flatbread (790mg sodium)
Compare this to the Steak, Egg White & Cheese Flatbread that has 1,140mg of sodium. A hashbrown has 600mg of sodium.