The Best & Worst Vending Machine Snacks

Display of Vending Machine

Display of Vending Machine

It’s the afternoon and you already ate lunch. Your eyes are glazing over, the minute hand on the clock refuses to move, and you’re about to fall out. And…you still have SO much work to do. So…you go hit the vending machine and grab a snack, right?

While yes, a healthy snack can jump-start your energy level and give you push you need to cross that work finish line, many of the snacks we’re confronted with on a daily basis aren’t all that great for your body. Believe it or not, there are healthy options to be found in most vending machines…but they’re sitting right beside those snacks filled with too much sugar, fat, calories, etc. to even be worth your time.

So first, here are the no-no vending machine snacks that you should skip:

Fruit Pie: 440 calories, 27g fat, 7g sat fat, 8g trans fat

Why To Say No: They’re your waistline’s worst nightmare

Cheese Crackers with Cheddar Cheese: 210 calories, 10g fat, 2g sat fat, 4g trans fat

Why To Say No: Ever heard of this heart disease risk-raising ingredient called  trans fat? We thought so.

Pop Tarts: 420 calories, 10g fat, 2.5g sat fat, 40g sugar

Why To Say No: We know you love them, but there’s too much processing going on. If you absolutely must, try to share one.

Doritos: 250 calories, 13g fat, 2.5g sat fat, 2g fiber

Why To Say No: If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, you shouldn’t buy. However, the Nacho variety is the least harmful of them all.

Cheez-It Crackers: 160 calories, 8g fat, 2g sat fat

Why To Say No: No fiber, no protein…what’s the point?

Cheetos Crunchy: 160 calories, 10g fat, 1.5g sat fat

Why To Say No: Like many of the above, the number of processed ingredients makes for a very body-unfriendly snack.

Twix: 280 calories, 14g fat, 11g sat fat

Why To Say No: Yes, they’re tasty, but they have more dangerous fat than a Snickers

Now, here are the yes-yes vending machine snacks that are healthier…and can even give you the guilt-free energy you needed in the first place!

Sunflower Kernels: 160 calories, 14g fat, 1.5g sat fat, 4g fiber

Why To Say Yes: They’re full of healthy fats that your body needs

Baked! Lays Original: 210 calories, 3g fat, 0g sat fat, 4g fiber

Why To Say Yes: They actually have FIBER

Sun Chips Original: 140 calories, 6g fat, 1g sat fat, 2g fiber

Why To Say Yes: These chips contain whole grains

Smartfood Reduced-Fat Popcorn: 120 calories, 5g fat, 1g sat fat, 2g fiber

Why To Say Yes: This snack is lower in fat, and has fiber…yes!

Peanut M&M’s: 250 calories, 13g fat, 5g sat fat, 2g fiber

Why To Say Yes: Yes. it’s candy, but it’s candy with protein. Watch the portion, though!

Fig Newtons: 190 calories, 0g fat, 0g sat fat, 2g fiber

Why To Say Yes: ’cause it’s a low fat fruit cookie!

Honey Roasted Peanuts: 160 calories, 13g fat, 1.5g sat fat, 6g protein

Why To Say Yes: They’re high in protein

Quaker Chewy Low-Fat Granola Bar, Chocolate Chunk: 110 calories, 2g fat, 0.5g sat fat, 1g fiber

The Bottom Line: You tell us…what’s better than chewy, chocolate goodness that you don’t have to feel guilty about?


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New Research: High-Fructose Corn Syrup Sabotages Learning & Memory

A glass dish filled with yacon syrup
It’s hard to find a pantry without high fructose corn syrup. It’s in cereals, salad dressings, baked goods, fruit juices, crackers and even baby formula. And many of us grew up on it, sucking down the sweetener in pitchers of sweetened juice and eating it every morning in our breakfast cereal.

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A new UCLA rat study is the first to show how a diet steadily high in fructose slows the brain, hampering memory and learning — and how omega-3 fatty acids can counteract the disruption.

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The study focused not on naturally occurring fructose but instead on high-fructose corn syrup, a substance which is a whopping six times sweeter than cane sugar and commonly used in a wide variety of processed foods and soft drinks.

UCLA Professor Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, co-author of the study, stated that the rats that were fed the sugary diet showed a marked decline in their speed as well as a noticeable cognitive decline.

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“Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information,” said Professor Gomez-Pinilla. “Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think. Adding omega-3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimize the damage.”

These findings are especially noteworthy since previous research has only been able to link high-fructose corn syrup to health issues including obesity, diabetes, fatty liver, and more. This is the first study investigating the repercussions of a diet rich in high-fructose corn syrup on the brain.

“We’re not talking about naturally occurring fructose in fruits, which also contain important antioxidants,” said Professor Gomez-Pinilla, in order to clarify the important difference between the types of sugars. “We’re concerned about high-fructose corn syrup that is added to manufactured food products as a sweetener and preservative.”

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Gomez-Pinilla and the other co-author of the study, Rahul Agrawal, said that the sugary diet actually changed the brains of the rats in the experimental group.

“Their brain cells had trouble signaling each other, disrupting the rats’ ability to think clearly and recall the route they’d learned six weeks earlier,” Professor Gomez-Pinilla said.

After closely inspecting the brain tissue of the rats, they discovered that the insulin present had likely lost a great deal of its power to control brain cells.

The researchers think that eating a diet heavy in high-fructose corn syrup could actually hinder the ability of insulin to regulate how cells store and use sugar, thus impacting the brain’s ability to process thoughts, emotions as well as its learning and memory-storage capabilities.

Thankfully, they said that working foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids into one’s diet could actually help protect the brain from the potentially disastrous effects of a long term diet consisting of a great deal of high-fructose corn syrup.

“It’s like saving money in the bank. You want to build a reserve for your brain to tap when it requires extra fuel to fight off future diseases,” Professor Gomez-Pinilla said.