Many of my clients think they feed fairly healthfully in general. So they’re often astounded when I recommend nixing snacks they believed were smart options. But once they hear why their go-tos aren’t ideal, they’re all for stimulating the switch to alternatives that actually are nutritious and energizing. Perhaps your snack list could use an overhaul too? Take a look at these six packaged bites that you might consider “health foods”–plus the alternatives that offer more overall nutrients, and help you avoid unwanted additives.
Veggie chips or whiffs
The fresh veggies on the packaging can be deceiving. Be sure to check the ingredients on those veggie chips and puffeds before you add them to your cart. You’ll often find potato flour and/ or potato starch, cornmeal, or rice flour as the main ingredients–not veggies. Because of the starchy add-ins, these snacks can pack far more calories than plain vegetables.
One popular brand provides 120 calories per one ounce serving, with 7 grams of fat, 16 grams of carb( 1 gram as fiber ), and 1 gram of protein. That’s only 40 fewer calories and 3 grams less fat than an ounce of regular potato chips, which provide 1 gram fewer carbs and 1 extra gram of protein.
To get your crunch fix–and a whole lot more nutrition–stick with the real bargain, like baby carrots, broccoli florets, sliced buzzer pepper, and cucumber, paired with hummus or guacamole for dipping.
Ready to ditch added sugar? Sign up for our 14 -Day Sugar Detox Challenge !
Simply being vegan doesn’t automatically make a food healthy, or best available. Vegan cookies are a perfect instance: Many are hit with loadings of sugar and refined flour, and lack fiber and nutrients.
And a vegan label doesn’t contradict the importance of section control. One brand that attains 4.25 -ounce vegan cookies( about the size of your palm) considers one cookie to be two servings. Eat the whole thing, and you’ll have racked up 480 calories, 78 grams of carb, including 57 grams as sugar, with simply 2 grams of fiber.
If you’re craving something sweet, stimulate your own no-bake vegan “cookies” use a combo of nutrient-rich whole foods, like almond butter, rolled oats, and chia seeds, with a little bit of maple syrup and vanilla.( Check out this recipe .) And needless to tell, get your fixing with merely a few( not the entire batch ).
Not all gluten-free crackers are created equal, so reading the ingredient list is key. But, it’s important to note that “gluten-free” is not synonymous with “healthy.” In some brands of gluten-free crackers, for example, the first two ingredients are white rice flour and vegetable oil–a refined grain paired with an oil heavy in omega-6 fatty acids, which have been linked to rednes. The calories and carbs can also add up quick, rivaling the amounts in potato chips.
For a crunchy gluten-free snack made from a whole grain, reach for olive oil popcorn instead. Trader Joe’s makes one with merely three simple ingredients: organic popcorn, organic extra virgin olive oil, and ocean salt. For 130 calories, 6 grams of fat, 18 grams of carb( 3 grams as fiber ), and 3 grams of protein, you get to eat a pretty generous section of two beakers, which is about the size of two baseballs.
The word fruit may be in the name, but the ingredients of one popular brand of fruit snacks include fruit puree combined with corn syrup, sugar, cornstarch, artificial flavors, and artificial colours. Fruit snacks built with these ingredients can easily pack about 20 grams of carb in a serving the size of a ping pong ball. You could get the same quantity of carbs from eating a baseball-size serve( one cup) of fresh blueberries, a medium apple, or two kiwis, all of which arrive bundled with filling liquid and fiber, along with antioxidants and more overall nutrients.
If you like fruit leather stimulated with 100% fruit, that’s fine. But remember that fruit leather is more concentrated than fresh fruit, so sticking with the section size stated on the label is key.
The healthfulness of trail mix actually depends on how it’s attained. Many brands contain dried fruit that’s been sweetened with sugar and treated with artificial preservatives, in addition to sugar-laden add-ins, like candy coated milk chocolate. Per quarter cup( which is a serving about the size of a golf ball ), these assortments can pack close to 200 calories and not much nutritional value.
Instead, build your own. Include tree nuts, like almonds, walnuts, pecans, or pistachios; as well as seeds, like pumpkin or sunflower, as the primary ingredients. Add a smaller quantity of unsweetened, preservative-free dried fruit, like a few finely chopped dried figs, plums, or a sprinkling of dried cherries. And if you need to add a little sweetness, chop a square or two of 70% dark chocolate to add to the mixture. Pre-portion in snack-sized purses you can eat on the go. At home, leave a quarter beaker scoop in the jar, so you won’t overdo it by grabbing big handfuls.
They may seem like a healthier alternative to potato chips, but the main ingredient in most ranges is refined white flour( suppose white bread in a chip sort ). A one-ounce serving, about 10 chips, contains around 130 calories, including 5 grams of fat, 19 grams of carb, with merely 1 gram as fiber, and no significant nutrients.
That’s not far off from kettle chips, which contain 130 calories, 6 grams of fat, and 17 grams of carb per 13 chips. Run for the latter instead, but choice a brand attained with only whole potatoes, avocado oil( which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids ), and natural salt, like Kettle’s Himalayan assortment.
Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health ’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a consultant for the New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets .
Read more: www.health.com