Unhealthiest and healthiest free airline snacks

Published January 10, 2014

| The Daily Meal

Unhealthiest and healthiest free airline snacks

Unhealthiest and healthiest free airline snacks

The Daily Meal unwraps the nutritional value of free airline snacks.

Delta Air Lines’ Unhealthiest Snack: Biscoff Cookies

The Belgian "speculoos" short-crust biscuits feature a distinct caramelized taste with a hint of cinnamon and spice. Until recently, these crunchy cookies had been served on most U.S. air carriers since the 1980s, but now only Delta Air Lines serves them for free to all passengers. Despite the dwindling opportunity to taste these cookies, more than 90 million Biscoff cookies are still served domestically in-flight each year, according to Biscoff. Delta offers its passengers three choices of snacks — peanuts, pretzels, and Biscoff cookies. Of the three, the unhealthiest option is Biscoff cookies because they are highest in calories, saturated fat, and sugar.

Nutrition Info:

Calories: 150

Calories From Fat: 53

Total Fat: 6 grams

Saturated Fat: 3 grams

Trans Fat: 0 grams

Cholesterol: 0 milligrams

Sodium: 120 milligrams

Total Carbohydrate: 23 grams

Dietary Fiber: .4 grams

Sugar: 12 grams

Protein: 2 grams

*Nutrition information provided by Delta Air Lines and snack packaging.

Delta Air Lines’ Healthiest Snack: Salted Peanuts

Of the three free snack choices Delta offers its passengers — peanuts, pretzels, and Biscoff cookies — peanuts are the healthiest snack. "Peanuts are always my number one choice," said Lippert. She says peanuts are filling, contain healthy fat, and a small amount will fill up hungry travelers. Lippert recommends pairing peanuts with a bottle of water to help fight water retention, which comes from air travel and eating salty food.

Nutrition Info:

Calories: 70

Calories From Fat: Not Provided

Total Fat: 6 grams

Saturated Fat: 1 gram

Trans Fat: 0 grams

Cholesterol: 0 milligrams

Sodium: 95 milligrams

Total Carbohydrate: 2 grams

Dietary Fiber: 1 gram

Sugar: 0 gram

Protein: 3 grams

*Nutrition information provided by Delta Air Lines and snack packaging

JetBlue’s Unhealthiest Snack: Linden’s Chocolate Chippers

When it comes to free snacking, JetBlue offers the most variety. The airline’s flight attendants march through the aisle with a large basket brimming with at least a half dozen regular offerings that include Doritos, King Nut Fancy Nut Mix, Linden’s Chocolate Choppers, PopCorners kettle-popped corn chips, Stauffer’s Animal Crackers (original), and TERRA BLUES, plus seasonal offerings like Linden’s Butter Crunchers, Stauffer’s Animal Crackers (iced), and TERRA SWEETS & BLUES. The flight attendants will even give you a second snack for free, but before you grab a second bag, note that not all the snacks are equally healthy. Linden’s Chocolate Chippers are the unhealthiest choice. With 2 grams of saturated fat and 11 grams of sugar, these bite-size chocolate chip cookies are the only snack option, along with the seasonal Linden’s Butter Crunchers, that contains cholesterol.

Nutrition Info:

Calories: 135

Calories From Fat: 45

Total Fat: 5 grams

Saturated Fat: 2 grams

Trans Fat: 0 grams

Cholesterol: 5 milligrams

Sodium: 100 milligrams

Total Carbohydrate: 20 grams

Dietary Fiber: 1 gram

Sugar: 11 grams

Protein: 1 gram

*Nutrition information provided by JetBlue.

JetBlue’s Healthiest Snack: King Nut Fancy Nut Mix

While JetBlue doesn’t offer free peanuts, one of its snack offerings is King Nut Fancy Nut Mix, which is packed with salted almonds, cashews, and honey-roasted sesame sticks. The savory snack is the best option for travelers who are truly hungry. Despite having the highest calorie, fat, and sodium content of JetBlue’s offerings, the fat is from good sources, says Lippert.

For those who can’t eat nuts or who aren’t very hungry but want something to nosh on, the TERRA BLUES, and when seasonally offered TERRA SWEETS & BLUES Sea Salt, are a healthy second choice. Made from blue potatoes, the bluish-purple chips have a slightly nutty flavor (the TERRA SWEETS & BLUES variety is gluten-free and also contains orange colored sweet potato chips). Not only do the chips have more fiber than other snacks like PopCorners (also a gluten-free offering), they are also made from a vegetable.

Nutrition Info: King Nut Fancy Nut Mix

Calories: 170

Calories From Fat: 130

Total Fat: 14 grams

Saturated Fat: 1.4 grams

Trans Fat: 0 grams

Cholesterol: 0 milligrams

Sodium: 180 milligrams

Total Carbohydrate: 8 grams

Dietary Fiber: 2 grams

Sugar: 1 gram

Protein: 5 grams

Nutrition Info: TERRA BLUES

Calories: 130

Calories From Fat: 50

Total Fat: 6 grams

Saturated Fat: 1 gram

Trans Fat: 0 grams

Cholesterol: 0 milligrams

Sodium: 115 milligrams

Total Carbohydrate: 19 grams

Dietary Fiber: 3 grams

Sugar: 0 grams

Protein: 2 grams

*Nutrition information provided by JetBlue.

Southwest Airlines’ Unhealthiest Snack: Wheat Thins and Ritz Toasted Chips

On most Southwest Airlines’ flights, passengers are offered salted or honey-roasted peanuts, pretzels, and, on some routes, Nabisco snacks like original Wheat Thins, Airplane Cookies, and Ritz Toasted Chips. The unhealthiest options are the seemingly healthy Wheat Thins, which are baked, whole-grain square crackers, and Ritz Toasted Chips, which, as the name suggests, are toasted, not fried; however, both are examples of how 100-calorie packaged snacks aren’t always the best choice. Lippert explains it’s better to choose a snack that has higher fat and calories that is a natural, wholesome food that will fill you up rather than empty-calorie snacks.

Nutrition Info: Wheat Thins

Calories: 100

Calories From Fat: Not Provided

Total Fat: 4 grams

Saturated Fat: 1 gram

Trans Fat: 0 grams

Cholesterol: 0 milligrams

Sodium: 160 milligrams

Total Carbohydrate: 15 grams

Dietary Fiber: 1 gram

Sugar: 3 grams

Protein: 1 gram

Nutrition Info: Ritz Toasted Chips

Calories: 100

Calories From Fat: Not Provided

Total Fat: 3 grams

Saturated Fat: 0 grams

Trans Fat: 0 grams

Cholesterol: 0 milligrams

Sodium: 190 milligrams

Total Carbohydrate: 18 grams

Dietary Fiber: 0 grams

Sugar: 2 grams

Protein: 1 gram

*Nutrition information provided by MyFitnessPal.com.

Southwest Airlines’ Healthiest Snack: Salted Peanuts

The healthiest free snack on Southwest is the salted peanuts. "Peanuts are always my number one choice," says Lippert, because peanuts are filling, contain healthy fat, and a small amount will fill up hungry travelers. On some routes, Southwest also offers honey-roasted peanuts. If you have a choice between salted and honey-roasted, go for salted; the honey roasted have added sugar, says Lippert.

Nutrition Info:

Calories: 70

Calories From Fat: Not Provided

Total Fat: 6 grams

Saturated Fat: 1 gram

Trans Fat: 0 grams

Cholesterol: 0 milligrams

Sodium: 95 milligrams

Total Carbohydrate: 2 grams

Dietary Fiber: 1 gram

Sugar: 0 grams

Protein: 3 grams

*Nutrition information provided by MyFitnessPal.com.

See more airline snacks at The Daily Meal

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