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How Healthy Are the Snacks in Vending Machines

By Sarah Curole, RD CNSD


A familiar scene for many office workers in America: After a long, stressful day, you make the snap judgment to eat a snack from the rows of chips and sweets in a vending machine. Sure, you know better, but hunger fogs your brain.


Well, the fact is that eating healthy snacks are an important part of self-care. At some point, you may be faced with a vending machine full of tempting options, so here’s how to make a healthy choice.   


In vending machines, labels are rarely visible, so the actual content may be a mystery. Just keep in mind that most machines are filled with processed foods high in sugar, saturated or trans-fats. Even “healthier” breakfast, granola and energy bar options often contain plenty of added sugars.


The solution: Start by eliminating highest sugar options such as candy and baked goods. Vending sandwiches are made with mayonnaise and white bread, which means excessive fat and simple carbs. Also avoid pork rinds which contain more than 600 calories and 40 g of fat.

Foods that can be found in nature tend to have less added sugars and unhealthy fats. Nuts are a natural food with less processing than chips or pastries. Remember to check serving sizes. Often there are two or more servings even in smallest package.


Healthier choices:

- V-8 Juice has 50 calories, no fat, 2 g protein and 120% RDA of vitamin C.

- Baked chips or pretzels contain a small amount of fiber and are lower in fat.

- A serving of sunflower kernels contains 160 calories, mostly healthy fat and nice dose of fiber.

- 1 ounce cashews contain 10 g healthy fats, 5 g protein and 150 calories.

- Trail mix contains protein and healthy fats. Remember most bags contain two servings. Avoid candy pieces and chocolate.

- Bottled water is best beverage, as most other options (even 100% fruit juices) are empty calories.