Smart vending machine picks

FRESNO, Calif.

"The first thing I pick is a Snicker, a Snickers bar."

"Health does not concern me when I'm at a vending machine."

"If there's something I like that's healthy, I'll get something healthy."

But selecting a smart option isn't always a slam dunk, so consumer reports worked with outside, registered dieticians to pinpoint some better choices.

Ok - it's no mystery you should stay away from the pop tarts. They can pack in 420 calories, 4-and-a-half grams of saturated fat and a whopping 32 grams of sugar. That's around eight sugar cubes!

And steer clear, too, of the Hostess Powdered Donettes, which have almost twice the saturated fat.

More surprising advice? Skip the Austin Cheese Crackers with cheddar. There's actually just 2 percent or less of cheddar cheese.

And if you've just gotta have a chocolate fix?

"Peanut M&M's are a better choice than, say, a Milky Way or a Twix," Jody Rohlena said.

That's because the peanuts at least offer a bit more protein and fiber. And here's another guideline.

"Choose something that takes a while to eat so your brain has a chance to register that it's full," Rohlena said.

Some good choices - Fat-Free Snyder's Mini Pretzels, Sunchips, or Planters Salted Peanuts, which also offer a good protein boost. But even better - packing that apple!

There are newer machines that offer healthier snacks, including grapes, baby carrots, and bananas. Fresh Del Monte Produce has launched a line of these healthier vending machine snacks and has even created special technology to keep bananas fresh for a longer time.

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