A nutritionist has cut apart the menus of airlines to rank the healthiest to least healthy in-flight meals.

Each year Dr Charles Platkin of Hunter College NYC Food Policy Centre tucks into the menus on offer by North America's top carriers to analyse the nutritional value of their meals in the skies.

Looking at the options from 11 North American carriers he can reveal which flights offer the best bites to eat, and which ones to pack a sandwich for.

There's good news for Kiwis planning a trip to Vancouver aboard the new Air Canada route.

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Air Canada was found to have the healthiest in-flight menu. Photo / Ethan McArthur
Air Canada was found to have the healthiest in-flight menu. Photo / Ethan McArthur

Air Canada and Air Alaska have come out on top as providers of the most nutritional inflight meals.

Meals were scored out of 5 for nutritional value and the calorie content was also measured.

Air Canada scored 4/5 for its "mini-meals" which are spaced out over 2-hour flights. With just 347 calories they are "high in protein" vs calorie content.

Alaska also scored 4 with an average calorie content of 359. Platkin praised the airline for its healthier options and transparency for listing online its "full menu and complete nutritional information".

Alaska flies high in the meal nutrition rankings. Photo / Allie Smith
Alaska flies high in the meal nutrition rankings. Photo / Allie Smith

However at the very bottom of the league was Southwest Airlines.

The average in-flight meal offered by the airline provided 106 calories, or the equivalent of two ginger nut biscuits.

With a pitiful 1.7 stars for nutritional value, Platkin advised travellers on Southwest to "bring your own fresh, nutrient-dense, healthy food, such as nuts and fresh fruit."

BYO: Southwest airlines lands at the bottom of the table with the least nutritious meals. Photo / Miguel Angel
BYO: Southwest airlines lands at the bottom of the table with the least nutritious meals. Photo / Miguel Angel

Platkin listed the full results on his website Dietdetective.com, which releases annual surveys into the quality of food and drink on planes.

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This year the website also revealed that, shockingly, the water of only 3 out of 23 carriers surveyed was considered safe to drink.

Which in-flight meal is best for you?

1. Air Canada, 347 calories ★★★★

2. Alaska Airlines, 359 calories ★★★★

3. Delta Air Lines, 424 calories ★★★

4. Jet Blue Airways, 295 calories ★★★

5.United Airlines, 320 calories ★★☆

6. American Airlines, 481 calories ★★☆

7. Frontier Airlines, 289 calories ★★

8. Allegiant Air, 325 calories ★★

9. Spirit Airlines, 360 calories ★★

10. Hawaiian Airlines, 515 calories ★★

11. Soutwest Airlines, 106 calories ★☆

Source Dietdetective.com