Spinach wraps have become a popular healthy fast food option in recent years. Subway in particular has made the spinach wrap a signature menu item. But are these wraps actually as nutritious as they seem? Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients and nutrition facts to find out.
The nutrition information for a Subway spinach wrap with no added ingredients is as follows:
At first glance, the wrap appears relatively healthy. It is low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. It also provides a decent amount of protein and fiber. However, there are some nutritional drawbacks to consider.
The spinach wrap contains 480mg of sodium, which is over 20% of the recommended daily value. While the spinach itself is low in sodium, the wrap at Subway contains added salt. The tortilla dough and seasonings also boost the sodium content. For those looking to reduce sodium in their diet, this wrap may not be the best option.
Calories and Carbohydrates
At 230 calories, the spinach wrap is moderately high in calories, especially for those watching their calorie intake. The 41g of carbohydrates, which accounts for a large portion of the calories, is also very high. The tortilla accounts for the majority of carbs. For comparison, a 6-inch turkey sub at Subway contains around 320 calories and 44g carbs. So the spinach wrap is lower in calories but similar in carbs.
While the nutrition facts above are for just the plain spinach wrap, most customers will likely add ingredients like dressing, cheese, and meat. These additions can drastically increase the calories, fat, sodium, and other nutrients. For example, adding southwest chipotle sauce, Monterey cheddar cheese, and oven roasted chicken will tack on an extra 340 calories, 21g fat, and 720mg sodium. This turns the wrap into a much less healthy option.
Here is the full ingredient list for Subway’s 9-grain wheat spinach wrap:
Enriched flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, whole wheat flour, wheat gluten, soybean oil, spinach, contains 2% or less of each of the following: yeast, salt, dough conditioner (sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium sulfate, enzymes), vital wheat gluten, ammonium sulfate, azodicarbonamide, calcium propionate and potassium iodate.
The wrap is made with a blend of enriched, refined flours. Enriched means that some vitamins and minerals are added back after processing, but the fiber is still removed. Refined flours digest quickly and spike blood sugar more than whole grain flours.
Whole Wheat Flour
The wrap contains some whole wheat flour, which provides more fiber, protein, and nutrients compared to enriched refined flour. But whole wheat is still listed after enriched flour, meaning there is more of the refined type.
Extra vital wheat gluten gives the wrap more elasticity and chewiness. But some people may want to avoid excess gluten.
The wraps contains soybean oil, which is high in polyunsaturated Omega-6 fats. Consuming Omega-6 oils in excess can contribute to inflammation.
Spinach gives the wrap some vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant value. There is 2% or more spinach blended into the dough. However, the spinach is much lower on the ingredient list compared to the flours.
The dough contains several preservatives such as azodicarbonamide, calcium propionate, and potassium iodate. These chemical additives prolong shelf life but are questionable for health.
Spinach Wrap vs. Tortilla
How does Subway’s spinach wrap compare to a regular flour tortilla? Here is a comparison:
|Calories||Spinach Wrap: 230||Flour Tortilla: ~180|
|Total Carbs||Spinach Wrap: 41g||Flour Tortilla: ~30g|
|Fiber||Spinach Wrap: 4g||Flour Tortilla: ~2g|
|Protein||Spinach Wrap: 9g||Flour Tortilla: ~3g|
|Spinach Content||Spinach Wrap: 2%||Flour Tortilla: 0%|
The spinach wrap has more calories, carbs, fiber, and protein compared to a regular flour tortilla. The spinach content and whole wheat flour boost the fiber and protein. But the higher refined flour content also increases carbs. When choosing between the two, it depends on whether you want the added nutrition or slightly fewer carbs.
Despite some drawbacks, Subway’s spinach wrap does have some nutritional perks. Here are some of the health benefits you can get from it:
The 9 grams of protein help with muscle building, satiety, and sustained energy levels. The protein comes mostly from the enriched wheat flour and vital wheat gluten.
The 4 grams of dietary fiber aids digestion and gut health. The whole wheat flour contributes some natural fiber.
Vitamins and Minerals
Added vitamins and minerals in the enriched flour include iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folic acid. The spinach also provides vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, and magnesium.
Low Saturated Fat
With just 0.5 grams of saturated fat and 0 trans fat, this wrap is low in the unhealthy fats that raise cholesterol and heart disease risk.
Subway offers a gluten-free spinach wrap for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. It swaps the wheat flour for a blend of rice flour, tapioca starch, and other gluten-free flours.
The plain spinach wrap contains no animal products, making it suitable for vegetarians and vegans looking for convenience food options.
Despite the nutrients, there are also some negatives to keep in mind when it comes to Subway’s spinach wrap, such as:
The wrap contains refined flour, preservatives, dough conditioners, and other processed ingredients. It lacks the wholesomeness of fresh, homemade food.
The 480mg of sodium adds up quickly when adding salty sauce or deli meat. This makes the wrap a poor choice for those limiting sodium.
Few Whole Foods
Other than the spinach, the wrap is made from refined flour, isolates, and chemicals rather than whole food ingredients.
Carb and Calorie Density
At 41g carbs and 230 calories, the wrap is dense in carbohydrates and calories compared to vegetables and other whole foods.
The wheat, soybean oil, and potential cross contact make this wrap unsafe for people with allergies or sensitivities.
Adding cheese, deli meat, sauce, and veggies quickly make this wrap less healthy overall.
Comparing Nutrition at Other Restaurants
To better evaluate the spinach wrap’s nutrition, let’s see how it compares to similar options from other restaurants:
Panera Mediterranean Veggie Wrap
|Calories||Subway Spinach Wrap: 230||Panera Mediterranean Veggie Wrap: 440|
|Fat||Subway: 4.5g||Panera: 19g|
|Sodium||Subway: 480mg||Panera: 1060mg|
Panera’s veggie wrap is significantly higher in both calories and sodium. The Mediterranean dressing and feta cheese add more fat as well.
Starbucks Protein Bistro Box – Chicken & Greens
|Protein||Subway: 9g||Starbucks: 19g|
|Fiber||Subway: 4g||Starbucks: 6g|
|Sugar||Subway: 2g||Starbucks: 7g|
Starbucks’ lunch box has double the protein due to the chicken breast. It also edges out Subway in fiber but contains more sugar.
Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Wrap
|Calories||Subway: 230||Chick-fil-A: 280|
|Saturated Fat||Subway: 0.5g||Chick-fil-A: 2g|
Chick-fil-A’s grilled chicken wrap has slightly more calories and saturated fat compared to Subway’s plain spinach wrap.
Nutrition When Customizing
Keep in mind that customizing your spinach wrap at Subway can significantly alter the nutrition facts. Here’s how some common additions impact the nutrition:
Adding provolone or cheddar cheese tacks on about 50 calories, 4.5g fat, and 170mg sodium. Swiss cheese has the most at 80 calories, 7g fat, and 250mg sodium.
Sauces range from 20 to 180 calories and add as much as 440mg sodium (honey mustard). Fat and sugars also increase with flavored sauces.
Veggies like lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and onions provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants without many calories.
Chicken, turkey, or roast beef will add 100-200 calories plus saturated fat and sodium. They boost protein as well.
Overall, sauces and cheese tend to be the most calorie-dense additions. Sticking to lots of veggies and lean protein while limiting sauces keeps nutrition in check.
Is Subway’s Spinach Wrap Healthy?
In moderation and when customized wisely, Subway’s spinach wrap can be a fairly nutritious fast food choice. The combination of whole wheat flour, added protein and fiber, and spinach gives it a nutritional advantage over traditional refined flour tortillas.
However, at its core, the wrap still contains enriched flour, additives, and sodium. Large customizable wraps piled with cheese and fatty sauces can also still pack a calorie and sodium punch.
Compared to a salad, the wrap falls short on nutrients and fiber density due to the refined grains. But overall, as an occasional option, or when topped with veggies and lean protein, the spinach wrap represents a healthier alternative in the fast-food setting.
Healthier Substitute Options
For an even more nutrient-packed meal, you can build a customized salad or bowl at Subway. Base it on spinach, lettuce, or veggies instead of bread. Load it up with tons of vegetables and fruits, beans for fiber and plant protein, and olive oil dressing or vinaigrette.
Some other healthier fast casual choices include:
- Chipotle salad or burrito bowl with brown rice, fajita veggies, beans, salsa, and guacamole.
- Panera Green Goddess Cobb Salad with chicken.
- Smashburger protein bowl with quinoa, chicken, and corn salsa.
At home, try making spinach wraps with higher fiber whole grain flatbreads, corn tortillas, or lettuce wraps. Fill them with hummus, avocado, nut butter, or lean protein and load up on dark leafy greens instead of cheese and heavy sauce.
The Bottom Line
Subway’s 9-grain wheat spinach wrap provides more nutrition than the average refined flour tortilla thanks to its blend of whole wheat flour, vital wheat gluten, and spinach. With 9g protein, 4g fiber, and added vitamins and minerals, it makes a reasonably healthy fast food choice.
However, it is still a processed food high in carbs, sodium, and questionable additives. Customizing your wrap with lots of veggies and easy on the sauces maximizes nutrition. For the healthiest option, build a vegetable-based salad. Overall, consumed in moderation, the spinach wrap can fit into a balanced diet.