Vending machines and snack carts have their fair share of tempting snack foods, but you can make healthier choices even when you are in a hurry at work and must rely on these options for lunch or a snack to get you through that next meeting.
Here are some nutritional guidelines to follow when selecting an item from a vending machine or snack cart. Healthier choices will meet the following criteria for a single serving, so be sure to read all nutrition labels:
- Contains less than 35 fat calories for every 100 calories of the food.
- Contains 1 gram or less of saturated fat calories for every 100 calories of the food.
- Contains 0 g of trans-fat.
- Nuts are exempt from fat criteria as they are high in monounsaturated fat and are therefore a healthy choice.
- Contains less than 15g of sugar per serving, excluding sugar from fruit.
- Sugar-free choices are acceptable if they meet the fat criteria.
- Snack items: Contain less than 480 mg of sodium per serving.
- Entrée items: Contain less than 1000 mg of sodium per serving.
- Item is a lean protein choice (fish, chicken, turkey, tofu, legumes, beans).
- Must also meet the fat and sodium criteria.
- Plain or spiced.
- No candy-coated or yogurt-coated nuts/seeds.
- Nuts are exempt from fat criteria as they are high in monounsaturated fat, as stated above.
- Fresh, canned, or dried fruits without added sweeteners.
- Fresh vegetables and salads. Dressings must meet fat and sugar criteria.
- 100% fruit or vegetable juices without added sweeteners, and meet salt/sodium criteria.
- Whole grain breads and cereals must meet sugar criteria.
- Prepared legume products must meet fat, sugar, and sodium criteria.
- Items with at least 2 g of dietary fiber per serving are preferred.
- Non-fat or 1% dairy products (including cheese).
- Frozen dairy items must be made with non-fat or 1% milk or meet fat criteria.