A Cardiologist’s recommendations on healthy travel snacks

A little getaway is the epitome of the Labor Day weekend. While the last 18+ months have taught us the value of a good staycation, many people believe it’s past time to safely see family members, spend time outdoors in nature, or simply travel somewhere other than the same four walls we’ve been staring at before the temperatures plummet.

Whether you’re travelling by plane, train, or car, there’s something about getting on the road that always makes me hungry (or is it just me?). As a result, it’s critical to include some nutrition for your body when packing for your trip. Naturally, not all snacks are made equal, which is especially true when travelling. While you may have a number of active excursions planned on the other end of your journey, getting there may require more than a few sedentary hours.

“Long-term travel can have a variety of health consequences,” says Tamanna Singh, MD, a Cleveland Clinic clinical cardiology and cardiovascular medicine specialist. “Air travel can cause certain people to be affected by variations in oxygen levels, air pressure, and temperature swings. On flights, the air pressure is low, which means less oxygen reaches your body. This can cause exhaustion, shortness of breath, and gas expansion in the belly, as well as stomach discomfort.” “Airplane cabins also have low humidity, which contributes to dehydration,” Dr. Singh adds. Even if you aren’t travelling, sitting immobile for as little as four hours can put you at risk for deep vein thrombosis (aka clots in the legs). According to Dr. Singh, this can put a strain on the heart and make getting enough oxygen into your body difficult. As a result of all of the preceding logic, she emphasises the importance of paying close attention to what you’re putting into your body while travelling.

To ensure that you’re well-prepared to enjoy every moment of your upcoming vacation, we contacted Dr. Singh for more professional advice on which foods she suggests bringing on your next trip for best cardiovascular health, as well as which ones you should avoid.

According to a cardiologist, the best healthy travel snacks and beverages are

1. Electrolytes and water

Dr. Singh suggests plenty of water and electrolytes due to the increased risk of dehydration that comes with travel (particularly via airline). Make sure to have a reusable water bottle and electrolyte packets or pills, such as those from Cure Hydration or Nuun, in your carry-on. Drink plenty of water before you depart, while you’re on the plane (or in the vehicle), and while you’re on vacation (yes, even more than normal). This will also aid in the prevention of constipation in travellers.

2. Water made from coconut

When it comes to staying hydrated when travelling, coconut water is high in hydration-boosting electrolytes like potassium and magnesium, making it more hydrating than normal water. Electrolytes assist balance your pH and manage muscular contractions in addition to keeping you hydrated, which is especially important for tourists who spend long hours outside swimming, hiking, or doing any physical activity in hot weather. “Coconut water could be a wonderful choice for rehydration after a long or intense workout, an illness that causes vomiting or diarrhoea, or a day in the heat,” Serena Poon, CN, a chef and certified nutritionist, told Well+Good earlier. Coconut water also contains vitamin C, which can aid in maintaining a healthy immune system when travelling. Look for low-sugar options, such as Vita Coco’s, or make your own by combining Laird Superfood’s coconut water mix with water.

3. High-protein whole foods, such as yoghurt, hard-boiled eggs, or peanut butter

Because people are more likely to have gastrointestinal issues while travel, such as indigestion, bloating, and stomach tightness, Dr. Singh recommends high-protein snacks that don’t cause gas, which means low fibre. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich, crackers with mild cheese, hard-boiled eggs, applesauce, or a turkey wrap are all possibilities. Trail mix, Greek yoghurt, and low-salt tortilla chips with guac are three other tasty options. Dr. Singh reminds you that fibre is a great heart-healthy ingredient that should be a crucial component in your meal rotation once you get at your destination.

4. Fruit that is still fresh

When it comes to entire meals, consuming unprocessed ingredients is always a good idea, but it’s more important when travelling. For the same reasons stated previously, Dr. Singh suggests fresh fruit that isn’t heavy in fibre. Cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, nectarines, peaches, and ripe bananas are examples of this. Fruits can also be peeled and blended into a smoothie to take on the go. All fruits are high in heart-healthy vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, B, and C, and their carbohydrate content will keep you active (without increasing your blood sugar) while flying or driving.

Is there anything we should avoid eating while travelling?

There are a few food categories, according to Dr. Singh, that can induce digestive difficulties or abdominal pain when flying. “Gas-producing foods, as well as fried or fatty foods, should be avoided on planes due to the increased risk of gas expansion and stomach bloating,” advises Dr. Singh. The following are examples of this:

  1. Red meat: The richness and saltiness of the meat might cause indigestion, nausea, and dehydration (and it’s not good for your heart).
  2. Beans, lentils, and cruciferous vegetables are high in fibre: These are some of the most nutrient-dense foods, but their high fibre content, according to Dr. Singh, could result in a lot of additional gas accumulation in travel scenarios.
  3. Drinks that dehydrate you: While you might be tempted to buy coffee or wine in the middle of a flight, Dr. Singh warns that these drinks dehydrate you, making them less than optimal for travel. “Patients with heart failure should avoid dehydrating beverages in particular since they are highly reliant on a proper fluid-electrolyte balance,” she says.

In conclusion

Dr. Singh advises us to “stay with whole meals or unprocessed, nutritious snacks that have a decent balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy unsaturated fats.” What’s the end result? A breathtaking (and heart-healthy) trip.

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