Lunching on Lunch Meats – Your Best Choices

A quick sandwich may be the most popular lunch around, and you can find dozens of different meats to put on your whole-grain bread. Look for meats that contain no more than 3 grams of total fat and no more than 1 gram of saturated fat per 2-ounce serving. Your best options are chicken, turkey, and roast beef.

Because processed luncheon meats are high in sodium and nitrates/ nitrites (preservatives you should limit in your diet), check the labels and look for ones that contain no more than 500 mg of sodium per 2-ounce serving and no nitrates/nitrites. Certain brands contain no preservatives, so look for this claim on the label. If you can buy organic luncheon meat, even better—the organic standard means the meat contains no antibiotics or preservatives.

Another option is to grab a rotisserie chicken (which being recently cooked hasn’t had preservatives added) and make sandwiches from it. And if you want to cut your salt content or need a vegetarian option, check out veggie versions of turkey, chicken, ham, and other meats. Vegetarian options are often made from soy, TVP (textured vegetable protein usually made from soy flour), beans, or a combination of non- meat proteins.

If you choose a vegetarian “meat” made from soy, look for those that contain whole soy instead of processed soy (i.e., “soy protein isolate”). Just as whole grains contain all the nutrients and fiber compared to refined or processed grains, “whole soy” retains all of the soybean’s nutritional profile. And you can count “whole-soy-derived” lunchmeat toward the recommended 3 cups of beans and legumes you should eat every week.