With its tender corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and tangy Thousand Island dressing on marble rye bread, Arby’s Reuben sandwich is a fan favorite. But is this sandwich a healthy choice or should it be an occasional indulgence? Let’s take a closer look at the nutrition facts.
Quick Facts on Arby’s Reuben Sandwich
Here are some key details about Arby’s Reuben sandwich:
- Calories: 670
- Total Fat: 35g
- Saturated Fat: 14g
- Trans Fat: 1.5g
- Cholesterol: 115mg
- Sodium: 1740mg
- Total Carbohydrates: 49g
- Dietary Fiber: 2g
- Sugars: 6g
- Protein: 32g
As you can see, this sandwich packs quite a caloric punch and is high in sodium, fat, and cholesterol. But does that mean it can’t be part of a balanced diet?
Evaluating the Ingredients
To determine if the Reuben is a healthy option, let’s look closely at the main ingredients:
Corned beef gets its name from the curing process it undergoes, which historically used large grains of salt (“corns”) along with spices like peppercorns, bay leaves, and mustard seeds. While fresh beef is quite nutritious, the corning process adds a lot of sodium. A 3-ounce serving of deli corned beef has about 800mg of sodium. For comparison, health experts recommend limiting sodium to less than 2,300mg per day. So the sodium content is high if you’re watching your salt intake.
Sauerkraut is finely shredded cabbage that has been fermented. The fermentation process preserves the cabbage and gives sauerkraut its signature sour flavor. As a cruciferous vegetable, cabbage contains antioxidants and fiber. The fermentation process also creates probiotics, which support healthy gut bacteria. So sauerkraut itself offers some nutritional merit.
Natural Swiss cheese is relatively low in fat and sodium compared to many other cheese varieties. It contains high-quality protein and calcium for bone health. However, cheese does have saturated fat and calories to consider. Just 1 ounce of Swiss cheese has about 110 calories and 7-8 grams of fat.
Thousand Island Dressing
Traditional Thousand Island dressing is made with mayonnaise, so it contains mostly fat and calories. A 2-tablespoon serving of Thousand Island dressing averages around 120 calories and 11 grams of fat. And since mayo is its main ingredient, most of that fat is the unhealthy saturated kind.
Marble Rye Bread
Rye bread has a lower glycemic index than many other breads, meaning it doesn’t spike your blood sugar as rapidly. It also provides fiber and nutrients like iron, zinc, B vitamins, and magnesium. However, Arby’s uses a marbled rye bread, meaning it’s made with both rye and white refined flour. The white flour decreases the nutritional value somewhat.
Nutritional Pros and Cons
Now that we’ve analyzed the main components of an Arby’s Reuben, let’s summarize the sandwich’s nutritional pros and cons:
- Provides lean protein from corned beef
- Contains probiotics and fiber from sauerkraut
- Offers calcium for bones from Swiss cheese
- Provides some B vitamins and minerals from rye bread
- Very high in sodium from corned beef
- High in saturated fat from cheese and dressing
- Contains unhealthy trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils in dressing
- Large amount of calories in one sandwich
As the cons indicate, the Reuben has some negative nutritional aspects. But the protein, probiotics, calcium, vitamins, and minerals also show it provides some nutritional value.
Alternatives for a Healthier Sandwich
If you want to enjoy an Arby’s Reuben but reduce the unhealthy elements, here are some tweaks you can request:
- Ask for low-sodium corned beef
- Substitute mustard for Thousand Island dressing
- Use reduced-fat Swiss cheese
- Replace marble rye with multigrain or sourdough bread
- Ask for half portions of meat and cheese
- Load up on extra sauerkraut and skip the dressing
Grilling the sandwich instead of toasting can also reduce fat and calories. You can also balance your meal with healthy side options like a salad or sliced fruit instead of fries.
Overall, Arby’s classic Reuben sandwich is high in sodium, cholesterol, and unhealthy fats, which does not make it the most nutritious choice. But you can customize your sandwich to make it more diet-friendly. The lean protein, probiotic sauerkraut, and calcium also offer some nutritional merit.
As an occasional indulgence, the Reuben can find a place in a balanced diet. But it should not be a daily lunchtime staple, especially for those limiting sodium, watching calories, or at risk for heart disease or obesity.
Making customized tweaks and pairing it with nutritious sides and drinks can satisfy your Reuben craving while still supporting your healthy eating goals.
At the end of the day, moderation and balance are key. If you make mindful choices to accommodate your sandwich, you can still enjoy Arby’s famous Reuben without derailing your nutrition.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does Arby’s Reuben sandwich compare to other sandwiches?
Arby’s Reuben is higher in sodium, cholesterol, and saturated fat compared to many other sandwiches. For example, a Subway Roasted Chicken Sandwich has 480mg sodium, 55mg cholesterol, and 3.5g saturated fat. A McDonald’s Big Mac has 970mg sodium, 75mg cholesterol, and 10g saturated fat. So while the Reuben is not the worst sandwich option out there, it is on the higher end for components we want to limit.
What are some healthy sandwich options at Arby’s?
Some healthier Arby’s sandwiches include the Roast Turkey Farmhouse Salad Sandwich, Market Fresh Sandwich, and Roast Chicken Club. Choosing grilled chicken, turkey, or roast beef sandwiches are also better options than the higher-sodium corned beef on the Reuben. You can make any sandwich healthier by opting for multigrain bread, skipping fatty sauces, and loading up on veggies.
Should I avoid Arby’s Reuben sandwich altogether?
You do not have to avoid the Reuben altogether if you truly love it! Having it occasionally as a treat is fine for most healthy adults. Just balance it out by making healthy choices for the rest of the day. Limit high-sodium, high-fat foods at other meals and opt for healthy sides and drinks. Moderation and variety are key to any healthy diet. Avoid making any one food totally taboo or off-limits.
Can I still have fries with my Arby’s Reuben?
While fries are high in fat and calories, you can still enjoy a small serving of fries occasionally as a side to your sandwich. A better option would be to choose a side salad, fruit cup, or oven-baked potatoes. Pairing the heavy Reuben with these lighter sides can help balance out the meal. But skipping the fries altogether once in a while can also help offset the indulgence of the sandwich itself.
What’s healthiest: Arby’s, McDonalds, Subway, or other sandwich shops?
There are healthy and not-so-healthy options at any sandwich shop. Arby’s, McDonald’s, and Subway all offer better alternatives like salads, grilled chicken sandwiches, and nutritious sides. In general, choosing whole grain breads, lean proteins like turkey and chicken, lots of veggies, and minimal sauces will lead you to healthier picks no matter which restaurant you visit. It’s more about customizing your choices at any given place.
The Bottom Line
While the Arby’s Reuben sandwich is certainly not the picture of healthy eating, it can be accommodated into an overall balanced diet in moderation. Making customized tweaks to the standard recipe and balancing it with nutritious sides and beverages allows you to satisfy your craving while limiting negative impacts. No food has to be totally off the table, even if it’s not the most nutritious choice. With mindful decisions and variety in your diet, you can enjoy almost any occasional indulgence.