While Panera Bread is a healthier alternative for the fast-food industry, many of its menu items are also extremely high in sodium. With that said, there are still a few items that I would recommend if you’re on a low sodium diet.
The best low sodium meals at Panera are:
- Fruit (Apple, Banana, Fruit Cup: 0mg)
- Greek Yogurt & Mixed Berries (80mg)
- Smoothies (all varieties: 35-60mg)
- Steel Cut Oatmeal with Strawberries, Pecans & Cinnamon Crunch Topping (150mg)
- Whole Grain Lahvash (250mg)
- Brioche Roll (300mg)
- Bagels (select varieties: 370-410mg)
- Artisan Ciabatta (360mg)
- Muffins (all varieties: 340-430mg)
- Half Size Salads (select varieties: 45-470mg)
If you’re trying to reduce your sodium consumption while eating at Panera, it’s important to know what to order and how to customize it, and what to stay away from.
After reading this article you’ll learn:
- If Panera’s menu items are high in sodium
- What menu items at Panera are low in sodium
- How to reduce your sodium intake at Panera
- Which meals to avoid when eating at Panera
Is Panera High In Sodium?
Panera is one of the lower sodium fast food restaurants because it has numerous low sodium options available. However, there are still many options on the menu that are extremely high in sodium and ought to be avoided.
Panera has options that have 0mg of sodium and options that are 2640mg of sodium.
For this reason, it’s important to be mindful when ordering at Panera if your goal is to reduce your sodium intake.
What Is Considered Low Sodium At Panera?
Meals at Panera that are considered low sodium are those that have less than 500mg of sodium or less per serving.
This 500mg guideline is based on research that has recommended that an appropriate sodium intake is between 1200-1500mg per day.
If you’re having three meals per day, then ideally each meal would have between 400-500mg of sodium and still be considered low sodium.
A FeastGood Nutrition Coach can help you design a low sodium meal plan and diet that works for you.
Tips On Reducing Sodium At Panera
To reduce your sodium intake at Panera, you can:
- Reduce your serving size
- Skip the bread bowl
- Choose options without cheese or processed meats
- Ask for condiments or dressings on the side
Reduce Your Serving Size
To reduce your sodium consumption while eating at Panera, you can reduce your serving size by ordering a smaller size or splitting a menu item with someone else.
If you can reduce the amount of food that you’re eating from Panera, then you’ll naturally consume less sodium.
Panera’s soup is high in sodium (720-1070mg per cup) so if you were to eat that by yourself, then it would be too much sodium but if you split it with someone else then you’re cutting down on sodium by approximately half.
Normally I would also say that you could order from the Kids menu; however, Panera kids menu is limited and doesn’t have great options other than for sides (fruit pouches, squeezable yogurts).
Skip The Bread Bowl
To reduce your sodium consumption at Panera you should skip the bread bowl because having your food served in a bread bowl dramatically increases the sodium content of your meal.
Although the bread bowl is delicious, it’s not worth it if you’re trying to limit your sodium intake while eating at Panera because the bowl itself has 1050mg of sodium.
Choose Options Without Cheese or Processed Meats
At Panera the biggest sources of sodium other than the bread bowls, are the cheese and processed meats that they use to add flavor to their meals.
The menu items that are the highest in sodium at Panera are those that have both cheese and processed meats because these foods are very high in sodium on their own.
Options like the flatbread pizzas with sausage and bacon, or sandwiches with cheese and bacon won’t be the best options.
Instead, it’s best to choose options that don’t have these high sodium foods or ask that a menu item be served without them because they will dramatically increase your sodium consumption.
Ask For Condiments or Dressings On The Side
Another way to reduce your sodium consumption at Panera is to ask for condiments or dressing on the side so that you can control how much of these high sodium spreads/sauces/dressings that you’re consuming.
Some common condiments at Panera are:
- Chipotle Aioli Sauce: 55mg
- Garlic Aioli Sauce: 35mg
- Dressings: 70-290mg
The condiments at Panera can add even more sodium to your meal than you might expect so it’s important to be in control over how much is being added.
Related Article: Eating At Panera While Bulking (6 Meals)
Eating Low Sodium At Panera: 10 Options
At Panera, the menu items that are considered low in sodium are breakfast items, snacks, and sides. The meal options like soups, flatbread, large salads, and sandwiches are all high in sodium.
The lowest sodium menu items at Panera are apples, bananas, and their fruit cup which all have 0mg of sodium.
The fruit at Panera could be a great option to have as a side to keep sodium low and to add nutrients to your meal.
You could have fruit with a muffin or with a bagel and still be under the 500mg guideline for sodium.
2. Greek Yogurt & Mixed Berries
Another low sodium menu item at Panera is their Greek Yogurt & Mixed Berry bowl which only has 80mg of sodium.
The yogurt & berry combo is a fantastic option for breakfast or an afternoon snack because it’s a great source of protein and fiber that will keep you full.
One of my favorite low sodium options from Panera is their smoothies because they taste phenomenal and they’re all low in sodium.
Another bonus with these smoothies is that they’re made with real fruit for a nutrient boost and almost all of them are made with greek yogurt which boosts the protein content of the smoothie.
|Smoothie Flavor||Sodium (per 16 fl oz)|
|Green Passion Smoothie||45mg|
|Mango Smoothie with Greek Yogurt||60mg|
|Peach & Blueberry Smoothie||45mg|
|Strawberry Banana Smoothie with Greek Yogurt||35mg|
|Strawberry Smoothie with Greek Yogurt||60mg|
4. Steel Cut Oatmeal with Strawberries, Pecans & Cinnamon Crunch Topping
A great low sodium breakfast item at Panera is their steel-cut oatmeal which only has 150mg of sodium per serving.
The steel-cut oatmeal is served with strawberries, pecans and a cinnamon crunch topping to give it a nice crunch factor.
5. Whole Grain Lavash
Panera is known for its bread, and one of the lower sodium grain products that they carry is their whole-grain lavash bread which has 250mg per serving.
Although you probably aren’t going to the lahvash on its own, it’s low enough in sodium that you can customize a sandwich order with it.
You could add:
- Egg whites (100mg of sodium)
- Over easy egg (70mg of sodium)
And a sauce:
- Chipotle aioli (55mg)
- Garlic aioli (35mg)
6. Brioche Roll
The brioche roll from Panera is another low sodium menu item that you could order to keep your sodium intake low because the brioche roll has 300mg of sodium.
I would get the brioche and pair it with a fruit option (apple, banana, fruit cup) for a quick snack, or use it as a breakfast sandwich by asking for it to be split in half and served with an over-easy egg.
Many of Panera’s Bagels are also low in sodium, which makes them the perfect option for those monitoring their sodium consumption.
|Bagel Flavor||Sodium Content|
|Chocolate Chip Bagel||370mg|
|Cinnamon Crunch Bagel||380mg|
|Cinnamon & Swirl Raisin Bagel||410mg|
|Sprouted Grain Bagel||410mg|
Keep in mind that the sodium content listed above is only for the bagel itself and doesn’t factor in any spread that you may want to add.
Panera’s butter appears to be only 35mg of sodium for “one pat” but they aren’t specific about how much “one pat” actually is.
Their cream cheese spreads range from 90mg to 190mg of sodium depending on the flavor that you select. The plain cream cheese is the lowest in sodium and the reduced-fat chive & onion cream cheese is the highest.
8. Artisan Ciabatta
Another low sodium bread option at Panera is the Artisan Ciabatta, which has 360mg of sodium per serving.
The artisan ciabatta could be eaten on its own with some butter (35mg of sodium) or made into a breakfast sandwich with an over-easy egg (70mg) or egg whites (100mg).
Panera also has a great selection of muffins that are all lower in sodium for those who are trying to reduce their sodium consumption.
|Muffin Flavor||Sodium Content|
|Chocolate Chip Muffin||390mg|
|Cranberry Orange Muffin||340mg|
These muffins would be a great grab-and-go breakfast, or an afternoon snack to hold you over until suppertime. I would pair the muffin with fruit for some additional fiber and micronutrients.
10. Half Size Salads
Lately, Panera has multiple salads on their menu that are low enough in sodium to be appropriate for those monitoring their sodium intake.
The full-size salads are too high in sodium, but most of the half-size salads are fair game.
|Salad Options (Half Size Only)||Sodium Content|
|Asian Sesame Chicken||400mg|
|Citrus Asian Crunch Salad||470mg|
|Fuji Apple Salad with Chicken||420mg|
|Strawberry Poppyseed Salad||65mg|
|Strawberry Poppyseed Salad with Chicken||280mg|
This nutritional information does include the salad dressing, so if you ordered the dressing on the side instead of letting them add it for you, then you may be able to reduce the sodium content of these salads further.
Meals To Avoid
The meals to avoid at Panera are those that have 2000mg of sodium or more because these are very high sodium meals.
Less than 500mg is considered low sodium, between 500-766mg would be average, 766-1000mg would be high, and 1000-1500mg would be very high; therefore anything 2000mg or higher is extremely high.
The meals at Panera that are 2000mg or higher are:
- Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Bread Bowl (2000mg)
- Chipotle Chicken Avocado Melt on Black Pepper Focaccia (2010mg)
- Cheese Flatbread Pizza (2030mg)
- Mexican Style Street Corn Chowder Soup with Bread Bowl (2070mg)
- Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice Soup with Bread Bowl (2090mg)
- Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup with Bread Bowl (2100mg)
- Broccoli Cheddar Mac & Cheese with Bread Bowl (2120mg)
- Bistro French Onion Soup with Bread Bowl (2230mg)
- Mac & Cheese – Large (2300mg)
- Mac & Cheese with Bread Bowl (2310mg)
- Chipotle Chicken and Bacon Flatbread (2350mg)
- Classic Grilled Cheese on Classic White Miche (2420mg)
- Pepperoni Flatbread Pizza (2510mg)
- Bacon Turkey Bravo on Tomato Basil (2530mg)
- Sausage & Pepperoni Flatbread Pizza (2640mg)
Frequently Asked Questions
What Panera Item Has The Least Amount of Sodium?
The lowest sodium Panera items are apples, bananas, and fruit cups because they have 0mg of sodium. These side options are great for anyone trying to reduce their sodium consumption.
Does Panera Bread Have Low Sodium Soup? (mention the top 3)
No, Panera doesn’t have soups that are low in sodium but the soups that they do have that are lowest in sodium are a cup-size serving of ten vegetable soup (730mg), tomato soup (750mg), and thai chicken soup (820mg).
More Low Sodium Fast Food Options
- Eating Low Sodium At McDonald’s
- Eating Low Sodium At Subway
- Eating Low Sodium At Burger King
- Eating Low Sodium At Chipotle
- Eating Low Sodium At Taco Bell
- Eating Low Sodium At Wendy’s
Have a FeastGood Nutrition Coach help you get results faster than trying to stick it out alone
About The Author
Amanda Parker is an author, nutrition coach, and Certified Naturopath. She works with bodybuilders, Olympic weightlifters, and powerlifters to increase performance through nutrition and lifestyle coaching.