Congratulations, Alaska Airlines, you’ve got the healthiest food in the sky.
According to the 2019-2020 Airline Food Study by DietDetective.com and the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center, Alaska Airlines and Air Canada tied for first place when it came to offering its passengers the healthiest foods in the industry.
To come to this conclusion the group gave each airline an Overall Health Score based on the food’s total calorie counts, nutrients, levels of sodium, whether or not the airline offers meals during flights of two hours or more in the air, their Airline Water Safety scores, and environmental initiatives such as replacing plastic straws, stirrers, and cups inflight with sustainable, eco-friendly options.
The group noted in its findings, the average number of calories per menu item across all those it studied was 375 calories. It added, “keep in mind, calories are not everything; the study also looks at the nutrient content of these foods, as well as innovations moving towards healthier, tastier, less expensive and more sustainable choices.”
What set Alaska Airlines apart? The authors said, was its effort to “minimize its environmental impact. It was the first to replace plastic straws with paper ones and continues to look for eco-friendly substitutions.”
While the study highlighted plenty of good food deeds done by airlines, it also offered the Shame on You Awards to Hawaiian Airlines. That honor was bestowed on the airline for “not providing all their nutritional information for the study, and to the EPA for not providing penalty information on galley water violations when requested.”
Additionally, the study explained why you may see higher sodium levels in food content on planes.
“Sodium is often used by food providers to boost flavor, especially in the air where senses can be dulled,” it said. “The average airline meal contains more than 800mg of sodium, which is more than 40 percent of the daily limit of 2000mg set by the World Health Organization. Also, note that in addition to health-related concerns, sodium can make you feel and look bloated because you retain extra water. Watch out for high levels of sodium throughout all airline menus.”
To combat the negative effects of higher sodium in the air, the authors suggested flyers opt for “mini-meals” rather than simply eating a ton of snacks. And, like always, make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated on your flights.
If you want to avoid guessing how healthy your in-flight meal may be you could always pack one of these flight-approved snacks instead.