10 Healthy Snacks You Can Buy at the Airport
We realize that many of you will be traveling on vacations this summer and wanted to repost this article from the folks over at SmarterTravel.com. There are some great tips here for eating on the go when flying.
10 Healthy Snacks You Can Buy at the Airport
May 24, 2013 by Christine Sarkis, SmarterTravel Staff
“No longer is the airport a junk-food-only zone. Better options are popping up in terminals around the country, offering hungry passengers healthy ways to fuel their journeys. Recently, I spoke with Senior Clinical Dietician Staci Collins to get ideas of what types of foods to look for, then I scouted out four airports around the country to see which healthy snacks I could actually find at kiosks, cafes, and restaurants.
1 – Fruit
Apples, oranges, and bananas were the fruits I found most often in airports, but I also found cut-up options like pineapple and watermelon. Fruits are lower in fat, sodium, and calories than most airport food options. They’re also a good source of vital but under-consumed nutrients like potassium and folate, and they contain fiber, which may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
2 – Water
In airports, empty calories lurk around every corner. Sodas, sports drinks, and juices crowd refrigerator cases, offering passengers a quick fix. But most airport newsstands, cafes, restaurants, and to-go food counters—not to mention drinking fountains—offer a heathier alternative: water. Drinking water helps maintain the balance of bodily fluids, energizes muscles, keeps your skin looking healthy, and aids digestion. Water is also great for what it isn’t—unlike sodas and juices, water has no sugar, calories, or preservatives.
3 – Yogurt
Yogurt is becoming a more common sight at airports around the country. At Napa Farms Market at San Francisco International, I even found a yogurt parfait bar, where passengers could add toppings such as fruit and nuts to their yogurt. The snack is perfect on the go: It’s portable, easy to eat, and relatively healthy. Yogurt delivers protein (on average, about nine grams per six-ounce serving), calcium, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins, plus probiotics to aid digestion. A study by the University of Washington in Seattle also suggests that yogurt may help people feel fuller than other foods with similar calorie counts. When you’re looking for yogurt, pay attention to fat and sugar content, as it varies widely among brands, types, and flavors.
4 – Oatmeal
Bowl of gluey mush, begone! These days, flavorful, appealingly textured oatmeal topped with dried fruits and sprinkled with brown sugar or nuts is pretty easy to find at airports. Oatmeal is a mainstay on Starbucks menus, and many airport food outlets serving breakfast feature protein-rich steel-cut oatmeal as well. Eating oatmeal regularly offers a whole host of health benefits, and even as a one-off snack at the airport, you’ll benefit from the nutritional punch it packs and its blood-sugar-stabilizing properties.
5 – Nuts
If you prefer that your airport snacks come in easy-to-stash bags, you’ve still got options beyond greasy potato chips. Nuts provide just the protein boost passengers need to keep hunger in check while in transit, and they’re easy to stow in a carry-on and nibble along the way. Nuts come with a caveat though: To earn their place on your healthy list, nuts should be unsalted (or only lightly salted) and eaten in moderation.
6 – Hummus
Rich in protein and fiber, hummus is available at an increasing number of airports (as well as in many airlines’ in-flight snack boxes). With a simple ingredient list that usually includes chickpeas, tahini (pureed sesame seeds), lemon, garlic, and olive oil, hummus packs calcium, iron, and vitamins into a creamy package. At airports, look for it on its own in little containers, or as part of snack platters that often include olives, feta cheese, or almonds, as well as dipping agents such as raw veggies and pita.
7 – Salads
At many airports, if you want a hearty dose of roughage, salad is your best bet. On recent scouting trips, I found offerings as varied as Greek salad, Nicoise salad with tuna, green salad, and Japanese noodle salad. If you’re counting calories, you likely already know that to keep salad on the favorable end of the health spectrum, you need to go easy on the dressing, but do that (and avoid super-indulgent toppings like bacon and rich cheese) and you’ll have an option that beats the junk-food odds at the airport.
8- Baked Goods
Two muffins may look exactly alike, but when it comes to breakfast breads, calorie counts vary wildly. If you are going the baked-goods route, look for low-fat, whole-grain choices. And when you’re weighing your options, don’t rule out breakfast sandwiches—they can sometimes have fewer calories and more protein than muffin or scone alternatives. For instance, at Starbucks, the raspberry scone comes in at 480 calories and 25 grams of fat, but the classic breakfast sandwich with turkey bacon and white cheddar has a lower 320 calories and seven grams of fat.
9 – Sandwiches
Choose the right sandwich and you’ll have yourself a healthy treat. When you’re selecting from the many options, opt for whole-wheat bread and lean meat such as turkey or chicken. Skip mayonnaise-heavy fillings like tuna or chicken salad. And bulk up a sandwich with plenty of fresh veggies instead of cheese or bacon.
And If Fast Food Is Your Only Option …
There are ways to make even a trip to a fast-food counter healthier. Most chains have nutritional information available if you ask, and a quick scan of calorie and fat content can help you choose wisely. A few guidelines can help steer your choices in the right direction: Look for grilled, rather than fried, options. Don’t supersize anything, unless it’s water. Skip the soda and fries, and look for fresh sides like salad or fruit.”