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PCRM's Report on Nation's Most Healthful Airport Food


Traveling over the holidays? With airlines now restricting meals on flights in an effort to reduce costs, eating meals at the airport may be a necessity. If you are watching your weight or on a special diet, this can be challenging, as many of the airport restaurants have fast food with lots of fat and salt.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has issued its ninth annual Airport Food Review of 17 of the nation’s busiest airports between June and November of 2009. Thankfully, 79% of airport restaurants are offering at least one low-fat, high fiber entrée or vegetarian option.

The airport that PCRM dietitians ranked highest for healthful food choices was the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport. This is the second year in a row that the airport has been ranked first in the PCRM report. Every restaurant offers at least one healthful entrée, according to the summary.

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The remaining airports in the top five airports (in order) are San Francisco International (also noted as being “most improved”), Phoenix Sky Harbor International, Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, and Newark Liberty International.

At the bottom of the ranking was the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, where only 66% of restaurants offered healthful food options – a drop from 71% last year.

At any airport vendor, it is possible to choose a more healthful option while waiting for your flight. Try a vegetable-topped pizza, a sandwich on whole wheat bread using mustard as a condiment instead of mayonnaise, and eliminating cheese from sandwiches and salads to save fat, sodium, and calories. At coffee shops, beware of the high-sugar coffee drinks and smoothies. Opt for lower sugar options with non-fat milk – and skip the whipped cream. Magazine stands offer snacks for hurried travelers, but most are high-calorie and low quality nutrition such as chips and sodas. Try a small package of nuts, a granola bar, or a low-fat high fiber bran muffin. Choose bottled water when possible as the air travel tends to dehydrate.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a group of doctors and laypersons working together for health promotion. They primarily support a vegetarian style diet, as it has been shown to be more protective against many diseases, such as heart disease and cancer.

The 2009 PCRM Airport Report can be found at http://www.pcrm.org