New report ranks healthiest US airport food options

Traveling by air and eating healthy rarely go hand in hand, but when it comes to airport food, the tides are turning say some doctors.

According to the annual survey by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), 76 percent of restaurants in 18 of the nation’s busiest airports offer at least one low-fat, cholesterol-free, vegetarian meal.

The PCRM says that the overall trend is toward offering passengers the nutritious meals to keep passengers from getting sick and to deal with the stress of air travel.

The report proclaimed Newark the nation’s healthiest airport for the first time with a score of 92 percent. The biggest loser was San Francisco International Airport, down 19 points from last year.  Chicago O'Hare International Airport got the most improved, with a 13-point increase in the number of restaurants offering a healthy option. In last place, the airport where you don't want to get stuck for a prolonged period of time is Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

“Healthful vegetarian meals at airports across the country are just the ticket for traveling light this holiday season,” says PCRM director of nutrition education Susan Levin, M.S., R.D in a release. “But some airports still serve too many greasy cheeseburgers and slices of pepperoni pizza that leave passengers feeling grounded.”

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PCRM dietitians look at restaurant menus at 18 airports. Each airport's score was calculated by dividing the number of restaurants offering at least one healthful option by the total number of restaurants. Snack food kiosks and small coffee shops were not included in the review. A restaurant was rated as healthful if it served at least one low-fat, high-fiber, cholesterol-free breakfast, lunch, or dinner entrée.

Airport Score Healthful Restaurants/Total Restaurants
1. Newark Liberty International Airport 92% 56/61
2. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport 91% 49/54
3. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport 90% 52/58
4. Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airpo 87% 53/61
5. (tie) Chicago O’Hare International Airport 84% 81/97
5. (tie) Miami International Airport 84% 63/75
6. (tie) Orlando International Airport 82% 36/44
6. (tie) Washington Dulles International Airport 82% 32/39
6. (tie) Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport 82% 49/60
7. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport 81% 76/94
8. (tie) Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport 78% 51/65
8. (tie) Charlotte Douglas International Airport 78% 35/45
9. (tie) San Francisco International Airport 77% 53/69
9. (tie) Denver International Airport 77% 47/61
10. (tie) Los Angeles International Airport 76% 38/50
10. (tie) Baltimore/Washington International Airport 76% 29/38
11. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport 69% 24/35
12. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport 58% 45/78