Snacks can be healthy, satisfying and tasty.
The best snacks are the ones that can satisfy your hunger and keep you on your healthy eating regimen, says Lisa Jones, a registered dietitian based in Philadelphia. “Snacks that are satisfying can be crunchy, creamy, savory or salty,” she says.
It’s helpful to keep a few things in mind to ensure you’re eating healthy and nutritionally balanced snacks.
Jones recommends putting these types of foods on your snacking roster:
— Proteins, like an egg or tofu.
— Whole grains, including brown rice or quinoa.
Be aware of the snacking rule of thumb.
Snacks can be included as part of any healthful meal plan, and a good rule of thumb is to keep them between 150-250 calories. Because carbohydrate-based snacks can elevate your blood sugar, it’s a good idea for anyone with diabetes to choose snack foods that are higher in protein and fiber but provide a moderate amount of carbs, Jones says.
If you’re consuming packaged snacks, be sure to look at how many servings there are per package. Some bags or containers of snacks contain more than one individual serving. Be sure to read the “Nutrition Facts” on the label, which should tell you how many calories each serving contains.
Here are 11 healthy snacks:
1. Avocado toast
Avocados are a great source of healthy fat that contributes to satiety, says Maggie Michalczyk, a registered dietitian based in Chicago. A slice of whole grain toast adds fiber.
The fruit contains these nutrients:
— Vitamin E.
— Folic Acid.
“Topping a slice of whole-grain bread with avocado makes for a fiber-filled and nutritious snack that is sure to keep you full until your next meal,” she says.
2. Chia pudding
“My favorite workday snack is chia pudding,” says Judy Simon, a registered dietitian on the staff at the University of Washington Medical Center. She’s also a clinical instructor for the nutritional science program in the School of Public Health and a certified health educator and fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Chia seeds are a good source of:
Chia pudding is easy to make: Start with a jar or container with 6 ounces of whole or unsweetened plant-based milk, 3 tablespoons of chia seeds and ½ cup of fruit. Stir and refrigerate. The snack should be ready in an hour. Serve with chopped nuts or seeds.
This snack will provide half of your day’s daily recommended intake of fiber, improve your digestion, and can even help lower cholesterol and balance your blood sugar levels due to its soluble fiber content, Simon says.
Steamed or roasted edamame is a delicious, savory and satisfying snack, Simon says. You can buy it frozen and shelled, and can be quickly heated on the stovetop or microwaved. “Not only is it a complete plant protein, mother nature balances it with fiber and fat,” she says. “It’s incredibly nutrient-dense.”
For example, 1 cup of shelled edamame — 3.5 ounces — provides almost 80% of your recommended daily amount of folate and 50% of the manganese you should consume every day. A cup of edamame also contains significant amounts of fiber and protein.
Research suggests soy products may help:
— Decrease menopause symptoms.
— Keep your blood sugar at healthy levels.
— Reduce cancer risk.
For example, research published in the journal Menopause suggests that eating a low-fat diet rich in soybeans can help decrease hot flashes in post-menopausal women. In the study, some post-menopausal women consumed a low-fat vegan diet that featured a half cup of soybeans daily. These study participants experienced an 84% decrease in moderate to severe hot flashes compared to the control group that did not consume soybeans.
Research published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2019 suggests that consuming soy protein is associated with lowering cholesterol by a small but significant amount.
4. Greek yogurt
It’s also loaded with:
“Mix it with tuna for an extra protein punch,” Jones says. “Try celery on a rice cake (with Greek yogurt) for a crunchy and creamy snack.”
5. Hard-boiled eggs with hummus on whole grain crackers
One egg contains 6 grams of high-quality protein and all nine essential amino acids, Michalczyk says. Amino acids are also called the “building blocks” of protein.
Pair hard-boiled eggs with hummus and a serving of whole grain crackers for a well-rounded snack that contains protein, fat and fiber, Michalczyk says.
6. Nuts and a piece of fruit
Combining a handful of nuts — such as almonds, cashews, peanuts or walnuts — with an apple, a banana or other fruits makes for a great snack, Michalczyk says. “This snack is great because it has a balance of protein, fat and fiber thanks to the nuts and additional vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants from the fruit.”
Combining nuts with fruit will also give you a variety of tastes and textures and help keep you full longer.
7. Peanut butter energy balls
This tasty and nutritious snack is easy to make, Simon says. Mix peanut butter, cocoa, oats, a drizzle of maple syrup and chia or sunflower seeds, and scoop out with a single tablespoon to shape them into balls. These snacks will keep, frozen or refrigerated, for up to five days. “You can personalize the ingredients,” she says.
This snack is much more nutrient-dense and flavorful than processed, commercial snack bars. They’re a good source of:
This staple movie theater snack is also great at home, says Claudia Del Vecchio, a nutrition educator and certified wellness practitioner with Keck Medicine of USC in Los Angeles. Popcorn is high in B vitamins and fiber, which helps with satiety. Instead of butter, try topping it with a dash of healthy olive oil.
Ways to make popcorn include:
— With an Instant Pot.
— In a microwave.
— On a stovetop.
9. Mashed avocado
This snack is tasty and easy to make. Peel an avocado and remove the pit, then mash the fruit in a bowl. Add unsweetened cocoa powder and a touch of honey or the sugar substitute stevia.
“Avocado contains healthy unsaturated fat that’s essential in our diet,” Del Vecchio says.
10. Raw vegetables
Fresh, raw veggies are a great, nutritious snack for any time of day, Jones says. They’re low in calories, which makes them the perfect food when you’re on the run.
Raw veggies you can eat as snacks include:
— String beans.
— Sugar snap peas.
You can eat any of these as they are, or with add-ons. For example, you can top sliced carrots and cucumbers with peanut butter for added protein. Sliced cucumbers on whole grain crackers provide plenty of nutrition, including fiber.
11. Shirataki noodles
These noodles are made from the corn of konjac root and contain only 20 calories per 8-ounce serving, Del Vecchio says. “Top them with marinara or pesto sauce or grated parmesan cheese,” she says.
These noodles work well in healthy soups or broths. You can also make a cold noodle salad, topping the noodles with spicy peanut sauce.
To recap, here are 11 healthy snacks:
— Avocado toast.
— Chia pudding.
— Greek yogurt.
— Hard-boiled eggs on hummus with whole grain crackers.
— Nuts and a piece of fruit.
— Peanut butter energy balls.
— Mashed avocado.
— Raw vegetables.
— Shirataki noodles.
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Update 03/24/22: The story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.