Ask LH: Are Vietnamese Pork Rolls Healthy?

Hey Lifehacker, how healthy do you think those $4-5 Vietnamese pork rolls are? They're so cheap and delicious, I wonder if the salads counteract the white bread and salty meat enough to justify having them several times per week. Thanks, Roll Me Over

Dear RMO,

Vietnamese pork rolls, also known as Bánh mì, are typically loaded with shredded carrot, lettuce, cucumber and spring onions. However, the presence of salad doesn't automatically make a meal healthy for you — as we have noted in the past, a bowl of takeaway salad can actually contain more sugar and fatty oils than a takeaway burger! It all depends on the type of salad dressing and the quantity used.

Most eateries that sell Vietnamese pork rolls don't add any dressing to the salad at all, which means it should be perfectly healthy. Of course, that's before you add the cured meats, eggy mayonnaise, high-fat pate and carb-loaded bread into the equation.

According to, a typical 40g Vietnamese pork roll contains 1255 kilojoules (roughly 300 calories) of energy, 92 milligrams of cholesterol and 18 grams of fat. This makes it a better choice than most deep-fried fast food options, but it's still not something you'd want to consume every single day.

You should therefore treat it as a slightly naughty indulgence in a healthy lifestyle rather than actual 'health food'.

There are also steps you can take to lessen the damage: most places will be happy to substitute a healthier option in place of the white bread and you should definitely request no mayonnaise — in addition to making the meal healthier for you, this will also lessen the odds of contracting salmonella poisoning - which Bánh mì are particularly notorious for.

Cheers Lifehacker

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This story has been updated since its original publication.


    You can also ask for different meat at some places - the place I get Vietnamese rolls from does beef, chicken, pork, or a roll with just salad. (They also don't add any mayonnaise - I've actually never heard of mayonnaise on a Vietnamese roll.) I don't know if chicken or beef would have less salt though, given that all the meat is marinated.

      It's actually Vietnamese-style mayonnaise which looks a lot like butter. If they put a yellow spread on your roll, it's probably that.

        Chris Jager, truly the take-away food consultant of our time.

          Well now that they aren't bothering doing the take away truths or taste tests any more, replacements need to be found.

    Great. Now I feel like a pork roll.

    I had never had them before my fiancée introduced me to them. The place I get mine from has a special sauce that I get instead of the pate. I don't know what's in that special sauce and I probably don't want to know.

      If that sauce is brown and salty it's might be Maggi sauce, like a soy .

      Its most likely bbq sauce from frying meat(gravy but better)lol or plain maggi soy sauce.

    FYI there is more carbohydrates in the bread than protein in the meat in these rolls by far, a large portion of the Calories (300 is a very conservative estimate I would say) will be from carbs, it's not exactly a balanced meal.

    My partner and I love having these once a fortnight or so. Definitely not the healthiest option, but they're damn tasty.

    Lol nice WordPress. I sent you an email a week ago but never heard back, I can show you how to do it if you need ^_^

    It all depends on where you're buying it from!

    The one next to my office (in Liverpool) changes to Wholemeal role and also the only reason i recently started eating these rolls again after holding back for a few years is because they only use non marinated / non cured chicken breast at this place!

    This could be because of the demand in the area thanks to all the gyms and clean eating habits people are starting to adopt...
    Personally I have one 2, maybe 3 times a week at maximum.

    Light mayo
    Extra carrots
    Chopped chilli
    Soy sauce
    No salt, pepper, pâté, butter, or cheese
    And on a whole meal role (which is smaller for some reason!!!)

    Man... Now I HAVE to buy one tomorrow :P
    I guess this is one of the 3 roll weeks!

      Liverpool? Are you talking the bakery, or the shop that used to be a takeaway?

      I've never tried the bakery, but the shop is awesome.

      Can I just say I hate the term "clean eating"
      Are you eating disinfectant?

      Whatever happened to "healthy eating"
      And yes I do actually lift

        Clean eating, clean bulking ?

        clean eating is meant to be eating that wont directly correlate to putting on fat ie not eating deepfried and carb loaded foods constantly.

        if you did lift you would know this.

          I understand what it refers too...I just hate the term

            Clean Eating to my knowledge is eating only natural organic foods...
            I'm not saying "I" do... Just answering the question in response to my earlier comment which you I've just noticed existed.

              If that is true then a whole lot of people use the term incorrectly

                That's why I prefer the term "Healthy eating"...
                In this day and age not everybody has access to natural organic AND healthy (calorie wise) food at the drop of a hat.
                Sometimes you have to think realistically.

    There a lot worse things in the world. Variety is key to diet - and avoiding the obviously terrible foods like hot chips and soft drink. Other than that, personally, I don't think it is worth worrying about it too much. These rolls are delicious!

    Get chilli sauce on your roll, and the chilli will affect your metabolic rate countering any excess calories... at least that's what I tell myself.


    Definitely ensure that the mayonnaise and salt are left out. There is salt in the soya sauce anyway and leaving it out does not detract from the taste.

    As others have said the straight salad roll is the healthiest - tastes great and better than the Aussie version which is without spring onions etc.

    And don't pay more than $3.50 for it.

      $3.50? What age are you living in lol wtf

      The cost of the ingredients is probably worth more than that

    N. Lee Bakery in Smith Street Fitzroy. Check em out - best Bánh mì in Melbourne!

    Scotts Rd Bakery in Darra QLD makes the best fucking Banh mi in Australia, and anybody who says different is a fucking liar. I'll fight them!

    According to, a typical 40g Vietnamese pork roll contains 1255 kilojoules (roughly 300 calories) of energy, 92 milligrams of cholesterol and 18 grams of fat.
    Maybe it's the places around here, but I don't think I've ever seen a Bánh mì that weighed only 40g. I'd guess that most of them are at least twice that size.

    Is worrying about and over analysing your food, healthy?

      When it comes to "unhealthy" food, try this thought experiment:

      In cage #1, test subjects are given water and the unhealthy food.
      In cage #2, test subjects are given water only - no food at all.

      Which group of test subjects do you think would live longer?

    I thought the salmonella risk was mainly from the pork, and mainly from not eating it straight away. Could be wrong though.

    In any case, just order a salad roll from the place (or tofu roll if they have them); still really tasty and a lot healthier

    Mayonais? lettuce? WTF? Its usually roll, butter, pate, spring onion, cucumber, carrots, chilli, meat, hoisin or maggi sauce, sometimes fried shallots and pepper.

      Oh, and coriander.

      The mayonnaise is the butter, really. Alternate between the terms, but I like to call it mayonnaise rather than butter.

    “Typically loaded with shredded carrot, lettuce…”

    No, they do not “typically” contain lettuce. That is a western thing. And the carrots are traditionally pickled.

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