The Surprisingly Healthy Fat You Can Buy At A Gas Station

Looking for the healthiest gas station snacks to buy on a road trip can feel a bit daunting. It might feel easier to reach for primarily unhealthy fat sources when you're on the go and stop for a quick snack. We're talking cookies, cakes, chocolate treats, and pastries. Fats in food generally get a bad rap. But the closer you look at them, the more you'll learn about healthy and unhealthy fats. 

Your body needs fat to stay warm, generate energy, produce hormones, and absorb vitamins, per the American Heart Association. So not all fats are unnecessary. Simply put, what you should be including in your diet are monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, both of which can help keep your cholesterol levels at a healthy level. Saturated fats and trans fats, on the other hand, raise bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and reduce good cholesterol (HDL). 

When traveling, there's a surprisingly healthy fat you can buy when you stop for gas: almond butter packs. In fact, almond butter ranks higher even than your childhood favorite peanut butter when it comes to healthy fats, per Healthline. And that's not all that's good about this nut butter. 

Almond butters are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals

Certified dietitian Vidhi Chawla told the Times of India that almond butters are great sources of the cell-protecting antioxidant vitamin E and magnesium (which supports bone and nerve health). It also contains calcium, which again contributes to healthy bones and teeth. 

Almonds are great for digestion too, owing to their rich concentration of fiber. A 2022 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that almond consumption was positively linked with butyrate production, an essential fatty acid that promotes gut health.

Another study done on the nut found that almonds are great when it comes to controlling blood sugar and insulin levels. The trick with anything you buy at a gas station is to know how much of it you should be consuming. Bananas might be a good addition with almond butter, but waffles won't be. It's easy to negate the positive effects of any snack, healthy fats or not, if you overconsume it or buy the wrong kind. 

Things to keep in mind

As with all gas station snacks, flip the almond butter pack over and read the label carefully. Unsurprisingly, not all almond butters only contain almonds. Look at the sodium and sugar content; you don't want to be overconsuming either. 

Calories are also a concern, no matter what treat you get on the road. It's easy to keep munching on something without paying attention to just how much you're consuming when your mind is on something else, like driving or looking at the scenery beside you. Choose small sachets and not the bottle. Plus, it goes without saying that almond butter is not a good choice for those with nut allergies. They are also considered a high-oxalate food, so you may want to keep that in mind if you have kidney issues, per Eating Well

Look for organic packets if you can. "Buying organic means reducing your exposure to pesticides ... I always recommend organic when possible," explained dietitian Lauren Minchen (via Women's Health). Justin's Classic Almond Butter is a good choice. It contains no added sugars or salt and is made with just two ingredients, dry roasted almonds and palm oil. Another good option is Once Again Organic Creamy Almond Butter. It's salt-free, unsweetened, and ethically sourced as well. Road trips aside, almond butter is a good source of healthy fat you should be incorporating into your regular diet.