The words “candy” and “healthy” do not often meet together in the same sentence. We tend to think of the term “healthy” as food that is natural or somehow beneficial for our bodies. For “candy,” we think the opposite, delicious yet sugary and unhealthy. Of course, that is not true for all healthy foods and candies, but what about candy that has some sort of benefit to one’s body? Are there candies that can actually be healthy? Here is a list of surprising products that have some health benefit and can turn traditional machines into healthy vending machines.

1. Chocolate Makes a Healthy Vending Machine?

This product is found in traditional and healthy vending machines alike. This should not come as a surprise for most people, but there are health benefits to eating chocolate. According to a study published in Neurology, chocolate offered cognitive improvements in older people. There was a sample size of about 60 people, and at the beginning of the study, everyone took a memory and reasoning test as a benchmark. The groups were separated into two: one group drank flavanol-rich hot chocolate, and another group drank flavanol-poor hot chocolate. The antioxidant flavanol has been linked to increasing blood flow and cognitive skills. The results were that those who drank two cups of hot flavanol-rich chocolate per day for 30 days performed better in memory and reasoning tests than the other group. Under this classification, chocolate can transform your machines into “healthy vending machines” There are other heart-related benefits to eating chocolate, such as reducing the chances for heart attack, but one must remember what kind of chocolate they are eating and the additives that are put into the chocolate. Therefore, eating chocolate bars with peanuts and other ingredients may not be the solution to prevent a heart attack, but pure chocolate without too much in it is a better option. If you have a chocolate craving, try a dark chocolate without too much sugar. All in all, chocolate isn’t a prime candidate for healthy vending machines, but it is certainly passable.

2. Gum alertHealthy Vending Machine Gum

Is gum found in healthy vending machines? Chewing gum can actually make you more alert, according to a study done by the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Japan. Chewing gum hardly has any calories, and it can also freshen your breath, but the added benefit of making people more alert is great. Although people in Singapore would disagree, chewing gum is a great pick-me-up during the groggiest part of the work week. Try taking a 40-minute long walk while chewing gum, if that is not too much for you. You’ll be able to harness your brain power more often and be healthier, all at the same time! Not only that, but gum is a product that takes a long time to expire in your machine. Healthy vending machines would be wise to invest in a product that is refreshing and common.

3. Poppin’ corn

Popcorn is a great snack food for people at work or going to the movies, but is it a viable option for people looking for healthy vending machines? It’s an American pastime, almost. You wouldn’t think popcorn would fit into healthy vending machines, but popcorn is one of those foods that is 100% whole grain and is packed with more antioxidants than a normal day’s serving of fruits and vegetables when looking at the average American’s diet. According to a food study from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, popcorn is filled with great stuff to help combat heart disease and cancer, but adding things like oil and butter diminish these health benefits. Next time you get some popcorn, think about sprinkling a little bit of sugar and cinnamon in the bowl for a very tasty treat that will not bust the belt. As long as you don’t go overboard with butter and salt, popcorn could certainly appeal to those searching for healthy vending machines.

4. Balance is key

Studies have shown that people who treat themselves with something sweet while having a balanced diet helps people stay thinner than people who always say no to sweet treats. This is surprising because people have been told never to indulge in sweet candies or chocolate bars, but now, there is evidence that shows that allowing yourself a treat (perhaps from some healthy vending machines) every once in awhile will only help one’s efforts to lose weight and live a healthy, balanced lifestyle. If anything, this should give people more motivation to make better life choices and still enjoy a little treat now and then without indulging in food binges. People can have their cake and eat it, too, if you will, just not too much.

Next time you’re at a vending machine, try one of these four choices and see how you feel. You can always go for granola bars, waters, or teas, as well, but all four of these on this list can also give you added health benefits. There has been a lot of talk about how the vending industry has been used as a scapegoat for obesity in the USA, but we all know that is not the case. Vending is not to blame for obesity in the USA, and we all know that there are plenty of healthy choices already in our vending machines. While there is an emphasis on healthy vending machines nowadays, it is often productive to take a balanced approach. Include veggie straws and a Snickers bar; mix and match protein bars and salted popcorn. If you’re looking for a quick snack, stop by your nearest vending machine and pick up one of these choices. You will not be disappointed!