The 5 Healthiest U.S. Airlines and What to Order on Them

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If your New Year’s resolution involved eating better or losing weight, as a consultant, you may have found that flying all the time for work doesn’t always support those goals.

Even if you’re not a consultant but have springtime travel plans, know what food you should eat on which airline to keep your health grounded, even when you’re up in the air.

The annual Diet Detective survey of airline food reports on nutrition information for the foods airlines serve economy class passengers on domestic flights and ranks the airlines on their healthy food offerings. The top five healthiest U.S. airlines are listed below, along with what Diet Detective recommends to order on each one.

  1. Virgin America: At a 4.5 out of 5-star rating, Virgin America not only wins the award for healthiest airline, it’s dropped its calorie count across the board by 15% year over year. Though the airline is scolded for not offering anything particularly healthful, and it’s best to avoid all the individual snacks, none of Virgin America’s food offerings go overboard in calories. Diet Detective knocked this airline for its lack of complete nutritional information on their website and in the air. Good high-protein options include:
  • Protein Meal with hummus, nuts and tuna
  • Ginger Chicken Soba Noodles
  • Provencal Tuna Sandwich
  • Protein Plate
  • Vegan Wrap with veggies and hummus.

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  1. Delta Airlines: Delta earned its 4-star rating thanks to its partnership with Luvo, which is committed to providing better-for-you food choices. Calories are listed on Delta’s menus and online, but other nutritional information is harder to find. The free peanuts are the best choice for a snack, and none of the individual snacks are recommended. Though your offerings for food on each Delta flight vary, depending on where you’re flying (so check online to see your food choices before you’re in the air), the following are safe bets:
  • Luvo Fresh Breakfast Medley (without the muffin)
  • Luvo Grilled Chicken Wrap
  • Luvo Roast Turkey and Havarti Wrap
  • Luvo Quinoa Crunch Wrap Snack Box (as a meal)
  1. JetBlue Airways: JetBlue received a thumbs-up for its posting nutritional information for meals and for its healthy individual snacks, though fliers are encouraged to not eat more than one. Meal options that don’t break the calorie bank include:
  • Pump Up meal box
  • Yogurt and granola
  • Kale and Quinoa Salad
  • Spicy Soba and Korean-Style Chicken
  • Veggie Platter
  1. United Airlines: With a 3.25-star rating, United Airlines’ snacks and snack boxes are increasing in calories, while its meals are decreasing in calories. You’ll fare best in ordering most of the breakfast offerings, but the lunch and dinner options are less strong. Here’s what Diet Detective recommends ordering on United Airlines to stay somewhat within your health budget:
  • Tapas Snack Box (minus the cheese spread), recommended to share with one other
  • Fresh Start Breakfast Selection
  • Oatmeal
  • Wrap and Salad Combo
  1. American Airlines: At 2.75 stars, American is really in the middle of the pile in terms of healthy offerings, but in the past year, it’s begun offering snacks with significantly fewer calories than in years past. Healthy food choices are limited, but they include:
  • Hummus and chips
  • Chicken Cobb Salad
  • Snack Pack (for breakfast)
  • Breakfast Sandwich
  • Fruit and Cheese Plate (if it’s split with another person)

Don’t see your favorite airline on the list? Our six tips for healthy eating while traveling may help you eat better on the run.