The Panera Bread Low-Sodium Diet Guide
Watching Your Sodium When Eating At Panera Bread
What are the best and worst things to order at Panera Bread (or Saint Louis Bread Company as it’s known in St. Louis) if you are trying to watch your sodium intake? RealLifeSTL has breaks it down for you.
Have you ever thought about the sodium you put in your body on a daily basis? While sodium is an essential nutrient for your body, too much of it is bad for that same body and can pose long-term health risks. Some recent health issues, as well as my family medical history, have led me to take a closer look at the sodium in my diet.
Eating out is a part of many of our lives, whether it be a guilty pleasure of a necessity. In this RealLifeSTL series, I’ll look at the menus for some of the most popular quick-service restaurants in the country and pass on my suggestions on what to order and what to stay away from.
In case you forgot, the recommended sodium intake is less than 2,300 mg of sodium. For those with a history of family medical history that includes high blood pressure or heart disease, 1,500 mg of sodium is the recommended daily intake.
Check out the full Panera Bread Nutrition Guide. These figures may be updated at a later date as Panera has set a goal of removing all artificial preservatives, sweeteners, colors and flavors from its menu by the end of 2016.
The fresh-made bagels at Panera Bread are one of its most-recognized items. The sodium level ranges from 380 bagels in the Cinnamon Crunch bagel to 590 mg in the Everything bagel. For a real low-sodium option, grab a Sprouted Grain Bagel Flat for its 180 mg of sodium.
It’s also important to consider the sodium level in the spread you’re going to put on your bagel. The standard spread size of cream cheese is about one ounce on each side of the bagel. Personal preferences range quite a bit, like this Slate writer who raged about the cream cheese put on bagels at places in New York. Panera gives the information for a 1 oz tub and a 2 oz cup for each flavor of cream cheese spreads.
2 ounces of the plain cream cheese contains 210 mg of sodium. The Reduced-Fat Wild Bluberry cream cheese has a bit less with 190 mg. The Reduced-fat Chive & Onion cream cheese will count the most towards your daily intake with 2 ounces containing 370 mg of sodium.
Aside from bagels and breads, Panera also offers a wide assortment of delicious-looking pastries. The sodium levels vary from 170 mg in a slice of Pastry Ring to 250 mg in the Chocolate Pastry to 320 mg in a slice of Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake up to 900 in a Orange Scone.
As you might imagine, the sodium levels will vary greatly when it comes to picking out a sandwich. The lowest-sodium option on the menu is the Avocado, Egg White & Spinach breakfast power sandwich with 480 mg of sodium. A fan of the Bacon, Egg & Cheese on Asiago Cheese bagel or the Bacon, Egg & Cheese on Ciabatta? Unfortunately, those are the two sandwiches with the most sodium in this category with 1260 mg each.
If you’re a fan of the Steel Cut Oatmeal for breakfast you’re in luck. Choosing either the strawberry option or the blueberry option will only set you back about 165 mg of sodium.
Saint Louis Bread Company also sells Breakfast Soufflés that sit largely in the middle of the sandwich range. The Spinach, Mushroom & Sofrito option is at the low end with 670 mg of sodium while the Spinach & Bacon variety is at the opposite end with 980 mg.
Sandwiches, Soups & Salads
No matter if you taste for a sandwich, soup or salad; St. Louis Bread Company has something for you on their menu. The menu features half-sandwich options as well as whole options. Try the Steak & Arugula on Sourdough sandwich at just 870 mg of sodium in a while sandwich. You might want to stay away from the Italian Combo Sandwich on Ciabatta with its 2,810 mg of sodium in a whole sandwich.
Panini options range from 1,280 mg in the Roasted Turkey & Caramelized Kale to 2,060 in the Frontega Chicken on Focaccia.
Panera recently began selling four different flatbread sandwiches. Instead of offering half or whole options, 1 or 2 flatbreads are offered. My favorite is the Chicken, Ham & Swiss flatbread, which has 580 mg of sodium. The Tomato Mozzarella flatbread clocks in at just 460 mg of sodium while the BBQ Chicken flatbread features 800 mg of sodium.
Salads are mostly going to be a great low-sodium option on any menu. Like with the sandwiches, Panera offers half and whole options with its salads. The Strawberry Poppyseed salad with chicken features just 280 mg of sodium in the whole option. The Romaine & Kale Caesar salad with chicken clocks in highest in sodium with 940 mg
For many of us, dressing is a integral part to any salad and Panera offers a large variety of them. The restaurant’s nutrition guide lists information 3 tablespoons of dressing for a whole salad. Fat-Free Poppyseed dressing has the least amount of sodium with 95 mg while Soy Miso Lime dressing has the most with a whopping 610 mg.
Soups are notoriously high in sodium and the soups here are not an exception, unfortunately. Remember that the nutritional information for soups doesn’t include eating the sourdough bread bowl and its 1,340 mg of sodium. Soups are offered in cup, bowl or bread bowl options. The Vegetarian Creamy Tomato soup has the lowest sodium with 850 mg when ordered in a bowl. You might want to stay away from the Bistro French Onion soup and its 1,960 mg of sodium per bowl.
Panera also offers other options that aren’t exactly a sandwich, soup or salad like the Thai Garden Chicken Wonton broth bowl with 1,320 mg of sodium. Pastas range from the 1520 mg Tortellini Alfredo to the 2030 mg Mac & Cheese.
Picking something of the menu doesn’t put you in the clear here. The next choice comes with the side. The healthiest side is clearly the Apple with zero milligrams of sodium. Unfortunately for me, the French Baguette is the loser here with 440 mg of sodium. It tops even the pickle spear’s 410 mg.
Smoothies, Iced Beverages & Frozen Drinks
The good news here is that some treats like smoothies, frozen drinks and iced beverages won’t set you back as much as you might think. A medium Low-Fat Strawberry Banana smoothie has just 50 MG of sodium. The same size Frozen Watermelon Strawberry Lemonade contains just 10 mg. The highest-sodium drink in this category is the Iced Caramel Latte with 250 mg of sodium.
The healthiest option is to just stick with water whenever you go out, but that’s much easier said (or should I say typed) than done. 32 ounces of Brewed Iced Tea has 30 mg of sodium at Panera, but the Acai Berry Green Iced Tea has zero.
Soda isn’t healthy as we know, but it’s a guilty pleasure for many. It’s Diet Pepsi for many, but pick your poison by all means. Diet Pepsi has 110 mg of sodium per 32 oz serving, according to Panera. Regular Pepsi clocks in with 80 oz in the same serving. Mountain Dew has 140 mg while Dr. Pepper stands at 130 and Sierra Mist has just 80 mg. You might think Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi has less sodium, but that’s not the case. It has the same sodium regular Diet Pepsi does.
What Should I Order At Panera Bread ( St. Louis Bread Company)?
In closing, what should you order at St. Louis Bread Company, or Panera Bread, or whatever you call this place? Order whatever you want. I’m just trying to give you some suggestions and point out some items that might have way more sodium than you think.
Just like with any diet, it’s okay to splurge every once in awhile. At least that’s what I say, take it for what it’s worth.
Do you have your own suggestions? I’d love to hear them below in the comments.
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