Forbes.com writer Susan Yara reports that according to the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA), Americans spent more than $21 billion on food and beverages from vending machines in 2004. Given the fact that vending machines often contain large amounts of candy and soda, many health research groups were concerned about this staggering figure. Fortunately, NAMA tried to remedy the problem of sugar-filled machines; in 2005, the association started a campaign called "Balanced for Life,” which promotes healthier snack options in the workplace (where vending sales are the highest). Today, many vending machines offer a mix of nutritious snacks and indulgent sweets. If you’re trying to eat healthy, however, it can still be tough to choose the right item, especially when you can’t read the nutrition facts ahead of time.
Here are some common vending machine foods that made FitnessMagazine.com’s list of healthy snacks:
- Planters Sunflower Kernels: 160 calories and packed with healthy fats.
- Baked! Lays Original: 4 grams of fiber to help fill you up.
- Quaker Chewy Low-Fat Granola Bar, Chocolate Chunk: Satisfy that chocolate craving with just 110 calories.
- Planters Honey Roasted Peanuts: High in protein (6 grams).
MensHealth.com teamed up with the writers of Eat This, Not That!
to determine which vending machine options make for healthy choices. Here are their top picks:
- Welch’s Fruit Snacks, Mixed Fruit: A better choice than Original Fruit Skittles, since Welch’s snacks are made with real fruit and fortified with vitamins A, C and E.
- Handi-Snacks Ritz Crackers ’n Cheez: The 100 calories in these crackers is half the amount you’ll get from a bag of Doritos Nacho Cheese Crackers.
- Rice Krispies Treats: If you must indulge, choose a Rice Krispies Treat (150 calories) over Pop-Tarts Brown Sugar Cinnamon (400 calories), which is full of high-fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils.
When you’re trying to eat healthy, a trip to the vending machine can be dangerous. Fortunately, there are some items that can curb your hunger and satisfy your taste buds – all you have to do is choose wisely.