Making Healthier Choices at Vending Machines

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:

Fat

  • 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.

Sugar/Artificial Sweeteners

  • Contains less than 15g of sugar per serving, excluding sugar from fruit.
  • Sugar-free choices are acceptable if they meet the fat criteria.

Salt/Sodium

  • Snack items: Contain less than 480 mg of sodium per serving.
  • EntrĂ©e items: Contain less than 1000 mg of sodium per serving.

Protein

  • Item is a lean protein choice (fish, chicken, turkey, tofu, legumes, beans).
  • Must also meet the fat and sodium criteria.

Nuts/Seeds

  • 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.

Assorted nuts

Fruits/Vegetables

  • 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 Grains/Legumes

  • 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.

Milk/Dairy Products

  • Non-fat or 1% dairy products (including cheese).
  • Frozen dairy items must be made with non-fat or 1% milk or meet fat criteria.

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