Many small business owners offer employees fully-stocked office kitchens these days, but this popular perk often consists of highly-processed choices loaded with sugar, salt, and trans fat. Doughnuts and pizza and chips, oh my! But is a break room that beckons employees with cheap but irresistible junk food doing them (or your business) any favors?
Food as an added perk is a great concept, but offering the “benefit” of low-quality junk food may slow down productivity and create an unhealthy workforce in the long run. On the flip side, healthier options might improve performance and wellbeing, both physically and mentally.
While individual food philosophies and eating plans run the gamut, most people agree that healthy eating involves choosing minimally processed fresh foods including fruits, vegetables, high-quality proteins, and whole grains. With that in mind, here are seven healthy food options to stock in your office break room that just may boost employee performance while still satisfying their taste buds.
- Blueberries and Other Fruits
Blueberries have long been regarded as a super-food giant. Research suggests that flavonoid-rich blueberries may help improve memory, learning, and cognitive function in general, making them the ideal office snack food. Eat them out of hand or mix with yogurt, granola, or even toss them in a green salad. Any way you like them, these little gems will boost your health.
In addition to blueberries, stock your office kitchen with a wide variety of other fruit that goes beyond the typical apple/orange/banana mindset — include easy-to-stock, healthy options like grapes, peaches, and pears.
- Spinach and Other Salad Greens
Far beyond the iceberg lettuce and pale carrot shreds of bagged salads past, many high-quality bagged options are now available: think kale blends, herb salad combinations, and gourmet lettuces.
Spinach, in particular, delivers huge nutritional benefits, mainly because it contains folate, a B-vitamin known to increase circulation of the brain and to reduce plaque. Folate is also used to build neurotransmitters in the brain, which are essential to thinking and learning.
Healthy dips and accompaniments such as hummus are perfect for a well-stocked break room. Hummus is a Middle Eastern chickpea spread rich in protein, iron, and healthy fats. Just pair it with high-quality baked crackers or cut veggies like red bell pepper, celery, and carrots, and you’ve created a perfect light lunch or mid-afternoon pick-me-up. Other nutritious dip options include the more well-known guacamole and salsa.
Who doesn’t enjoy a delicious batch of fresh popcorn? With the addition of an air pop popcorn maker in your break room, your employees can have a highly-nutritious, good-for-you snack that helps drive energy forward throughout the day. Popcorn is a whole grain that provides complex carbohydrates and fiber without the sugar, additives, or preservatives typical of processed snack foods. It’s naturally low in fat and calories, but just make sure to steer clear of the microwavable bagged stuff that’s full of fat, salt, and unhealthy preservatives.
- Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are great to have on hand for employees because even just a small serving packs a big nutritional punch. For example, walnuts offer many neuroprotective compounds such as vitamin E, folate, antioxidants, and omega-3 fats, all of which support brain health and may enhance cognitive function. Almonds contain high levels of omega-3 fats, too, which may improve symptoms of depression.
- Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate should be in every well-stocked office kitchen because of its many healthy attributes including iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium, and a host of powerful antioxidants. It’s also loaded with fiber and delivers a nice dose of caffeine. Because of these properties, dark chocolate may also increase productivity and stimulate those cognitive functions.
While not technically a food, stocking good quality coffee in the break room has many health advantages. Coffee is often maligned as an unhealthy choice, but studies show that each sip carries a good amount of vitamins and minerals, including many important B vitamins like riboflavin and niacin, as well as potassium and manganese. Its many antioxidant properties also increase the production of endorphins. So, drink up and rise above that mid-day slump!
Do you offer free food as a perk to your employees? Let us know in the comment section below.