Lunch Break: The Healthiest and Worst Breads at Panera, Sweetgreen, and More

Just how many extra calories does that bready side tack on?

Bread offered at lunch spots can tack on extra calories and sodium. Panera Bread's bread bowl, for example, is 660 calories on its own. Photograph via Flickr user Tobbyotter.

Here at Lunch Break we look at the calorie counts for many favorite salads, soups, and sandwiches at local lunch spots, to help you make healthier decisions come lunchtime. And while even the best options often come with a side of bread, that couldn’t possibly do much harm, right?

Wrong. We did some investigating at popular lunch spots and found out the nutritional breakdowns of their side breads. While the calorie counts were as expected, we were floored by some of the sodium content. Read on for our findings, listed in order by calorie count.

Au Bon Pain baguette = 230 calories
One piece of the artisan baguette is 230 calories, 15 from fat. But it also has the most sodium and carbohydrates, at 570 milligrams and 46 grams respectively. Swap it for the low-cal, low-sodium Asiago breadstick, instead.

Cosi’s traditional flatbread = 214 calories
Soups are served here with Cosi’s traditional flatbread, which clocks in at 214 calories and 43 grams of carbs. It does, however, contain a decent amount of protein: 8 grams.

Panera’s whole-grain baguette = 180 calories
This whole-grain side is a decent 180 calories and comes with 4 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein, a better option than the French baguette. But the sourdough bread bowls are just scary: a staggering 660 calories, with 1,340 milligrams of sodium. Stick to the soup in a traditional bowl.

Pret a Manger’s baked roll = 168 calories
Pret’s small, freshly baked rolls are packed with a surprising 5.6 grams of protein. Also good news: They’re low in sodium and fat.

Sweetgreen’s buckwheat bread = 100 calories
This side of bread still adds 100 calories to your meal, but it’s one of the lowest-calorie options of this bunch. Bonus: The buckwheat adds 2 grams of dietary fiber and 3 grams of protein.

Corner Bakery’s focaccia roll = 100 calories
With every salad and soup comes the complimentary focaccia roll, which adds 100 calories to your meal, 30 from fat, and another 250 milligrams of sodium.

Chop’t’s flatbread = 75 calories
The two slices of whole-wheat flatbread that come with your ginormous Chop’t salads are just 75 calories total and 140 milligrams of sodium. What you should be careful for, however, is the tortilla wrap used for the sandwiches. Each wrap is a whopping 300 calories and contain 560 milligrams of sodium.

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