What are the gut health risk and benefits of 'dinner sandwiches'?

Gen Z are loving 'dinner sandwiches' right now. (Getty Images)
Gen Z are loving 'dinner sandwiches' right now. (Getty Images)

If you're stuck for something to cook for dinner you might be tempted to grab whatever you have in the fridge and stick it between two slices of bread for a quick and convenient mealtime option.

Turns out, however that "dinner sandwiches" are very much the Gen Z foodie fad of the moment with new research revealing nine in ten are putting classic evening meals, such as fish fingers (58%), chicken Kiev (18%) and steak and chips (17%) into a sarnie.

You probably won't be surprised to learn that over three quarters 78% were first introduced to the idea of a tea-time sandwich after spotting other people doing it on social media.

The survey, by Hovis, found some of the more unusual dishes that Brits put between bread, include mac and cheese (16%), instant noodles (14%) and chicken tikka masala (14%).

Pork chops (13%), sweet and sour chicken (12%), chicken schnitzel (12%) and even lasagne (11%) and spaghetti Bolognese (11%) also made the list.

The research found that two thirds (66%) think that there is nothing better than putting last night’s leftovers in between two slices of bread, with 63% believing that any meal can be made better by putting it in a sandwich.

Gen Z are putting all sorts in a 'dinner sandwich'. (Getty Images)
Gen Z are putting all sorts in a 'dinner sandwich'. (Getty Images)

It seems the nation’s love of bread is so strong that over two thirds (67%) say they could never give it up.

While we're more used to getting our sarnie fix for lunch or breakfast, experts say there are a couple of reasons the dinner sandwich is on the rise.

"Sandwiches are great at any time of day but there is something particularly appealing about having a sarnie at dinner time," explains Wynne Evans, Celebrity Masterchef champion.

Adrian Mooney, marketing director, at Hovis says people are also feeling inspired to get more creative with the humble sandwich.

"The research shows that people don’t just want to enjoy their favourite sarnie on a quick lunch-break and we’re now enjoying them at different times of day," he adds.

But what are the nutritional impacts of 'dinner sandwiches' and how does this sort of food impact our gut health?

"Sandwich dinners can offer a trifecta of benefits: portion control ensures calorie management, a diverse range of nutrients caters to balanced nutrition, and their convenience suits busy schedules," explains nutritionist Lara Buckle from www.thewellnessdetective.co.uk.

However, ensuring quality bread selection is paramount, favouring fresh, homemade, or reputable brand options for optimal taste and nutrition.

"Despite these perks, vigilance against nutrient imbalance, particularly from processed ingredients, and the potential shortfall in vegetable intake are necessary," Buckle continues.

To maximise health benefits, she suggests opting for wholegrain bread, lean proteins, abundant vegetables, and use healthy fats in moderation.

Man tucking into a dinner sandwich. (Getty Images)
Nine in 10 Brits are putting classic dinners into a sandwich. (Getty Images)

Low fibre intake: Depending on the ingredients used, dinner sandwiches may lack sufficient fibre, which is essential for maintaining gut health. "A diet low in fibre can lead to constipation, irregular bowel movements, and an imbalance in gut bacteria," explains Buckle.

Processed ingredients: Commercially prepared bread, processed meats, and condiments often contain additives, preservatives, and high levels of sodium. "This can negatively impact gut health by disrupting the balance of gut bacteria and contributing to inflammation," Buckle says.

Potential gluten sensitivity: For individuals sensitive to gluten or with conditions like coeliac disease, Buckle says consuming sandwiches made with wheat-based bread can trigger digestive issues, including bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea, ultimately affecting gut health.

High fibre content: Opting for sandwiches made with wholegrain or whole wheat bread, along with plenty of vegetables, can increase fibre intake. "This promotes better digestion and supports a healthy gut microbiome," Buckle adds.

Probiotic-rich ingredients: Buckle says incorporating fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, or Greek yoghurt into sandwiches can introduce beneficial probiotic bacteria to the gut, enhancing digestive health and immune function (if your body can tolerate these).

Nutrient-dense ingredients: Including lean proteins, such as grilled chicken or tofu, along with a variety of colourful vegetables, provides essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support overall gut health and reduce inflammation.

Buckle has put together some 'dinner sandwich' suggestions to help support a healthy gut.

Vegetable and houmous wrap: Use wholegrain or gluten-free wraps (pick a brand with few additives/nasties) filled with a variety of colourful vegetables like spinach, bell peppers, cucumbers, and carrots, along with a generous spread of houmous for added fibre and plant-based protein.

Salmon and avocado sandwich: Incorporate grilled or baked salmon, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, onto whole grain bread, and top with sliced avocado, leafy greens, and a drizzle of olive oil for a nutrient-dense option that supports gut health.

Quinoa and black bean burger: Prepare homemade quinoa and black bean patties seasoned with herbs and spices, and serve on whole grain buns with lettuce, tomato, onion, and a dollop of Greek yoghurt for a gut-friendly alternative to traditional burgers.

Turkey and cranberry wholegrain wrap: Roll up sliced turkey breast, cranberry sauce, mixed greens, and a sprinkle of chopped walnuts in a wholegrain wrap for a balanced meal rich in lean protein, fibre, and antioxidants.