It’s baseball season again, and that means many people will be heading out to catch a game or two live at the ballpark. We all know that some tasty ballpark snacks are part of the baseball experience – even the old song talks about “peanuts and Cracker Jack.” But many of the snacks available at the ballpark are packed with fat and calories, and contain an absolutely stunning amount of sodium. No matter what you do, you’re unlikely to get a healthy, balanced meal at the ballpark, but you can minimize the game-day damage by replacing some of the worst ballpark snacks with healthier alternatives that give you the same snacking satisfaction.
Beyond Peanuts and Cracker Jack: Healthier Options for Snacks at the Ballpark
- Instead of a hot dog or corn dog, try a chicken or turkey wrap.Many ballparks now offer healthier options like wraps with heart-healthy chicken or turkey breast. If you can’t find these options at your ballpark, bring one from home. While serving sizes and condiments vary and impact the nutritional value, you’ll save approximately 100 calories, 7g fat, and 125mg sodium.
- Instead of roasted, salted peanuts, try peanuts in the shell.You can still enjoy your peanuts, just like the old song says. Simply go for peanuts in the shell rather than roasted, salted nuts. Even with a two-cup serving of in-shell nuts rather than a one-cup serving of roasted, salted nuts, you’ll save 200 calories, 2g fat, and 330mg sodium.
- Instead of a giant soft pretzel, try a baked potato.Giant pretzels are warm and chewy, sure – but all they’re a huge source of is sodium. You can snack away on a warm, soft baked potato with a reasonable serving of sour cream and chives instead to save 165 calories and more than 500mg sodium! The sour cream means you will get about 1g more fat.
- Instead of a bag of Cracker Jack, try air-popped popcorn.This is one snack from the old song that it’s best to replace. Popcorn is about as close to Cracker Jack as you can get, and the nutritional difference is staggering. Two cups of air-popped popcorn saves you 355 calories, 6g fat, and 240 mg sodium over a 1.75 cup bag of Cracker Jack. You’ll have to bring this healthy alternative from home, as ballpark popcorn is loaded with salt, oil, and artificial flavors – so not a healthy choice.
- Instead of nachos with cheese, try bean or multigrain chips.You can capture the crunchy chip snacking experience of eating nachos in a much healthier way by changing the type of chip and ditching the mysterious “cheese” sauce. One half bag of Beanitos black bean chips (3 oz.) saves you about 680 calories, 35g fat, and a whopping 1400mg sodium over a serving of ballpark nachos and cheese. Unless your ballpark has a wide chip selection, this is another option you’re best to bring from home.
The Bottom Line
We don’t recommend you eat all of the healthier substitutions in one day – that would still be quite a hit for your body to absorb – but if you did, you’d save a total of 1500 calories, 49 g fat, and 2595 mg sodium compared to the original versions. That’s a huge difference!
One final word of wisdom: If your ballpark, like more than half of Major League stadiums, offers an all-you-can-eat section, eat with caution! It’s not good value if you come home feeling sick, stuffed, and bloated from too many fatty, salty foods. Try to apply these substitutions at the all-you-can-eat baseball buffet, and be sure to eat some salad!
Christina Newberry is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in national and local magazines and newspapers. With a Bachelor’s degree in English and Anthropology from the University of Victoria and a Journalism Certificate from Langara College, Christina brings keen curiosity and the love of a good story to her work with HealthCastle.com.
Christina is a passionate traveler and urban gardener with an interest in vegetarian eating and making good, tasty food from scratch. Sharing lessons learned from her own experiences, Christina writes about lifestyle topics for HealthCastle, with a focus on eating well at home and on the road.