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How Healthy is Airplane Food?

by Holly Riddle

Jan 15, 2020

airplane food © Yuliya Yesina | Dreamstime

Trends / Food & Drink

How healthy is airplane food? Turns out, not very. A new study from Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center finds airline food has a long way to go, but some airlines do better than others in offering suitable dining options.


The center compared 11 major airlines’ snack and on-board food offerings and found Air Canada and Alaska Airlines to be the airlines with the healthiest food choices. Delta Air Lines and JetBlue tied for second place. The center also gave a nod to Alaska Airlines for its sustainability initiatives where in-flight dining offerings are concerned, and the center gave a Shame on You award to Hawaiian Airlines for not being transparent with nutritional information.


The study compared airlines according to nutrients and calories in meals, transparency when it comes to nutrition and ingredient information, improvement of healthy offerings over time, menu innovation, sodium levels and overall food availability.


The center found the average number of calories in an in-flight menu item was 375. While this doesn’t seem like much, the average airline meal contains more than 800 milligrams of sodium, more than 40 percent of one’s daily recommended limit.


Based on the information found, Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center recommends travelers eat full or mini-meals while in flight, as individual snacks offer little nutritional value. Additionally, the center warns travelers to watch out for carb-heavy menu items, as these can impact blood sugar levels while traveling, causing proven mood changes.


The airlines with the worst snack and on-board food offerings in terms of health, according to the study, were Allegiant Air and Frontier Airlines.


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