After 31.6 million American passengers took flight this Thanksgiving holiday, you may be looking for more options beyond your gluten-free stuffing. Airline food may get a bad rap for bland flavours and high calorie counts, but several carriers are defying the trend with healthy food options.
According to a new study released by DietDetective.com in collaboration with the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center this week, Alaska Airlines tied with Air Canada as top picks for the healthiest US (and Canadian) airlines this week.
The results of the study found that Alaska Airlines tied with Air Canada in the the healthiest overall in-flight meal option category, with an average calorie count of 375.
Charles Platkin, the executive director of the Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center and editor of DietDetective.com, studied nutritional information on foods served and sold by the top 11 U.S. airlines.
The 2019-2020 Airline Food Study rated foods for 11 airlines. The study rated a health score, 5 stars being the highest and 0 the lowest, based on criteria including healthy nutrients and calorie levels of meals, snack boxes and individual snacks, improvement and maintenance of healthy offerings, level of transparency (display of nutrient information, menu online & ingredients), menu innovation and cooperation in providing nutritional information, overall sodium levels, availability of meals under three hours, and Diet Detective's Airline Water Health Score.
Air Canada and Alaska Airlines earned their spot thanks to their healthy meals and their transparency concerning nutritional information, followed by Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways tying for second place.
Scoring an enviable 4.0, Alaska Airlines was the highest-rated U.S. carrier in the study for the consecutive year. The airline's meals had an average calorie count of 388. Lead author Charles Platkin praised the airline for its commitment to healthy food and said he was pleased with many of the options Alaska offers, including the Mediterranean Tapas snack box and the Fresh Start Protein Platter breakfast.
According to Platkin, Air Canada showed the most improvement this 2019, while Delta fell on this year's list.
Delta Airlines and JetBlue Airways were tied for a health score of 2.9. Delta's overall calorie average receded from 500 calories from 2018, while JetBlue's average number of calories per item has decreased from 323 last year.
Southwest Airlines earned the unenviable last-place finish with only 1.7, based mostly on the fact that the budget carrier offers only individual snacks.
He notes that airlines are making "glacier type-movements" when it comes to providing healthier food options for travelers. Also, according to him, serving healthier foods could potentially "increase customer experience and brand loyalty."
The new study for 2019-2020 added more criteria into their Overall Health Score category from total levels of sodium and whether or not the airline offers meals during flights of two hours or more in the air to airline water safety, and environmental initiatives such as replacing plastic straws, stirrers, and cups inflight with sustainable eco-friendly options.
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