What exactly is a healthy snack? A good-for-you snack is one that’s high in nutritional value (including protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber), but relatively low in calories, total fat, saturated fat (no trans fats), sugar, and sodium.
While fresh veggies and fruits, of course, make for very healthy snacks, we know that those items aren’t always convenient (or the top choices for the typical family). That said, here are some of the worst snack choices you can find in your local supermarket in terms of healthfulness, along with some much healthier alternatives.
Chocolate Coated Donuts, Mini Donuts, and Snack Cakes
This is not to say that powdered-sugar donuts are good snack choices. But chocolate-coated donuts and snack cakes have even more saturated fat than other types.
Most fruit pies even say “Great snack!” on the package. This makes sense only if by “great snack,” they mean high in calories (450), total fat (24 grams), saturated fat (13 grams), and sugar (13 grams); and low in protein, fiber, and other healthy nutrients.
Lunchables (Snack Size) by Oscar Mayer
Two types of these snack-sized Lunchables contain about half a day’s worth of the suggested amounts of fat, saturated fat, and sodium for someone eating around 2,000 calories a day. Also, most of these snacks are around 350-400 calories – again, this is a snack!
Regular Chips and Cheetos
Although the serving size listed on the package is 1 ounce, most of us snack on two or three times this amount, which equals around 300 calories, over 20 grams of fat and up to 700 mg of sodium.
Toasted 100% Whole-Wheat English Muffin with Peanut Butter
You’ll find at least two brands of 100% whole-wheat English muffin (Oroweat and Thomas) in most supermarkets. Toasted and spread with some natural-style peanut butter (the type that just contains peanuts and a little salt), these make a satisfying snack with 250 calories, 10 grams protein and 5 grams of fiber.
Don’t let the 15 grams of fat per serving fool you. Most of the fat grams are from beneficial monounsaturated fats (8 to 9 grams) and polyunsaturated fats (3 to 5 grams). Each ounce also contains at least 5 grams of protein, about 170 calories and plenty of healthful phytochemicals like phytosterols and lignans.
94% Fat-Free Microwave Popcorn
When you’re craving something crunchy, microwave popcorn can be a quick and easy snack solution. There are now some lighter options on the shelves. Even if you double the serving size listed on the label, it still only adds up to 240 calories, 4 grams fat, and 1 gram of saturated fat — along with 8 grams of fiber.
Quick Microwave Nachos (Baked chips with beans and cheese)
This high-protein snack (14 grams) is easy to put together. Just put an ounce of baked tortilla chips in a microwave-safe bowl and dot the top with small spoonfuls of the refried beans, right out of the can. Sprinkle some hot sauce or salsa over the top, along with a little shredded cheese. Pop in microwave for 30 seconds or so to heat the beans and melt the cheese. Jazz it up by adding chopped tomato, green onions, and a dollop of fat-free sour cream if you like. All for around 290 calories and 70 grams of sodium. GET MORE HERE