Is the fish sandwich at Arby’s healthy?

With the rising popularity of fast food, many people are concerned about the nutritional value of popular menu items. One such item that often gets questioned is the fish sandwich at Arby’s. In this 5000-word article, we will analyze the ingredients and nutrition facts of Arby’s fish sandwich to determine if it can be considered a healthy option.

What’s in the Arby’s Fish Sandwich?

First, let’s look at what’s actually in the Arby’s fish sandwich. According to the Arby’s website, the fish sandwich contains the following ingredients:

  • Battered fish fillet
  • Tartar sauce
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Sliced tomato
  • Sesame seed bun

The fish fillet itself is made from pollock fish, which is coated in a light crispy batter before being fried. The tartar sauce contains common ingredients like mayonnaise, pickles, onions, and lemon juice. Overall, the ingredient list is relatively simple and similar to other popular fast food fish sandwiches.

Nutrition Facts for Arby’s Fish Sandwich

Now let’s analyze the nutrition facts for an Arby’s fish sandwich:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 380
Total Fat 19g
Saturated Fat 3.5g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 40mg
Sodium 830mg
Total Carbohydrates 38g
Dietary Fiber 2g
Sugars 3g
Protein 16g

At first glance, the 380 calories doesn’t seem too high for a full sandwich. However, the fat and sodium content is quite high compared to recommended daily limits. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 13 grams of saturated fat and 1500mg of sodium per day. With 19 grams of total fat and 830mg of sodium, this one sandwich provides a significant chunk of your daily recommended limit.

Is the Fish Healthy?

When determining how healthy a fish is, we need to look at its omega-3 fatty acid content. Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fat with heart health benefits. According to Seafood Watch, pollock can be a good source of omega-3s depending on their diet. Wild-caught Alaskan pollock tends to be higher in omega-3s than Atlantic pollock.

Unfortunately, Arby’s does not specify the exact source of their pollock fillets. Based on some investigating, it seems they likely use a mix of sources, not all wild-caught. So while the fish itself may provide some omega-3s, it’s difficult to say exactly how much. The heavy breading and frying method also detracts some of the potential health benefits compared to grilled or baked fish.

Is the Tartar Sauce Healthy?

The tartar sauce also adds significant amounts of fat and sodium to the sandwich. A single serving of Arby’s tartar sauce contains:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 230
Total Fat 24g
Sodium 470mg

With 24 grams of fat in the sauce alone, it’s adding a lot of saturated fat and calories. Some lighter tartar sauce options use low-fat mayonnaise or greek yogurt as the base. But Arby’s classic tartar sauce sticks with regular mayonnaise, which relies heavily on soybean oil. Overall, the tartar sauce cannot be considered one of the healthier options.

How Does It Compare to Other Fast Food Fish Sandwiches?

To get some context, let’s compare the Arby’s fish sandwich to offerings from other major fast food chains:

Restaurant Sandwich Calories Total Fat Sodium
Arby’s Crispy Fish Sandwich 380 19g 830mg
McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish 380 18g 860mg
Burger King Fish Sandwich 370 17g 790mg
Wendy’s North Pacific Cod Sandwich 400 21g 930mg

The Arby’s fish sandwich is comparable to competitors in terms of calories. The total fat content and sodium are also in the same ballpark as McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s. No one sandwich stands out as a much healthier alternative than the others.

Healthier Modification Options

If you want to make the Arby’s fish sandwich a bit healthier, there are some modification options:

  • Order without tartar sauce to reduce fat and sodium
  • Choose a junior size sandwich with less breading and smaller bun
  • Substitute the fried fish fillet with grilled chicken or roasted turkey
  • Ask for extra veggies like tomato, lettuce, and onion
  • Skip the bun and make it a lettuce wrap
  • Pair it with lower calorie side items like apple slices instead of fries
  • Use light mayo or mustard instead of tartar sauce

Making some of these simple changes can reduce the total calories, fat, sodium, and refined carbs. While the modified sandwich still won’t be considered a very healthy meal, it does make the occasional indulgence less detrimental to your overall diet.

What Do Experts Say About Fast Food Fish?

Many health experts caution against making fast food fish sandwiches a regular part of your diet. According to Amanda A. Kostro Miller, RD, LDN:

“Generally speaking, fish sandwiches at fast food restaurants tend to be heavy on calories, sodium, and saturated fat, so I would not recommend making it a regular choice. The majority of the calories and fat usually come from deep frying the fish and the tartar sauce. Choosing grilled options with lighter sauces is best if you do indulge occasionally.”

Registered dietitian Brigitte Zeitlin also advises:

“A fish sandwich from a fast food restaurant should be thought of as a treat meal, not a health food. While fish itself can be a part of healthy diet, deep fried fish patties on white buns with high fat sauces do not make for a low calorie, well balanced meal.”

Overall, registered dietitians agree that fast food fish sandwiches should only be an occasional indulgence. They caution against perceiving these deep fried, high sodium options as healthy regular meals. Limiting your intake to a few times a month and making sensible modifications can help reduce the impact to your diet.

Healthier Homemade Alternatives

Rather than relying on fast food, you can make much healthier fish sandwiches at home. Here are some recipes to try:

Baked Salmon Sandwich


  • 4 ounces wild salmon fillet
  • 1 whole grain bun
  • 2 slices tomato
  • Shredded lettuce
  • 1 tbsp light mayonnaise
  • Lemon juice
  • Dill (optional)


  1. Season salmon fillet with lemon juice, salt, pepper, and dill.
  2. Bake at 400°F for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned and flaky.
  3. Spread 1 tbsp light mayonnaise on bun.
  4. Assemble sandwich with salmon, tomato slices, and shredded lettuce.

Grilled Mahi Mahi Sandwich


  • 4 ounces mahi mahi fillet
  • 2 whole wheat hamburger buns
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Sliced onions


  1. Whisk together greek yogurt, lemon juice, and mustard for sauce.
  2. Grill mahi mahi fillets over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes per side.
  3. Serve grilled fish on hamburger buns topped with sauce, lettuce, and sliced onions.

Tuna Salad Sandwich


  • 1 (5 oz) can tuna
  • 2 tbsp plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil mayo
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Sliced tomatoes


  1. In medium bowl, mix together tuna, yogurt, mayo, mustard, celery, and lemon juice.
  2. Spread tuna salad on whole wheat bread and top with lettuce and tomatoes.

These homemade sandwiches provide lean, omega-3 rich fish in a much healthier preparation without deep frying. They use lighter sauces, whole grain buns, and lots of fresh veggies. While it does take more effort than going to a fast food restaurant, you can feel good about feeding homemade fish sandwiches to yourself and your family.


In summary, while Arby’s fish sandwich offers the convenience of fast food, it is high in sodium, saturated fat, and calories compared to a healthy home-cooked meal. The use of deep fried fish, white flour bun, and high-fat tartar sauce add up to a sandwich that nutrition experts would consider an occasional treat rather than a regular part of balanced diet. Modifying the sandwich by skipping sauces and choosing lighter sides can help reduce the impact. But for regular fish intake, health professionals recommend preparing baked, grilled, or broiled seafood at home. The verdict is that while an occasional Arby’s fish sandwich won’t make or break your diet, relying on it as your regular fish intake provides relatively little nutritional value.

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