Snacks are small, quick mini-meals. Snacks are eaten between meals and help keep you full. Including a protein-source with your snack (such as nuts, beans, or low-fat or fat-free dairy) or a whole-grain can help to give snacks more "staying the power" so you will not get hungry again as soon. Healthy snacks are:
- Whole grain
- Low in added sugar
- Fresh foods like fruits and vegetables
Here are a dozen health snack ideas you can try:
- One medium apple or pear with 12 almonds
- Half cup (120 milliliters, mL) of berries with 6 ounces (oz), or 170 grams (g), of plain yogurt or low-fat cottage cheese
- One small banana with 1 tablespoon (tbsp), or (15 mL), unsalted peanut butter or almond butter
- One quarter cup (62 mL) trail mix with dried fruits and nuts (with no added sugar or salt)
- Three cups (720 mL) air popped popcorn with 2 tbsp (30 mL) shredded parmesan cheese
- One cup (240 mL) of grapes or cherry tomatoes with a low-fat string cheese
- One cup (240 mL) raw carrots, broccoli, or bell peppers with 2 tbsp (30 mL) of hummus or black bean dip
- One cup (240 mL) tomato soup with five whole grain crackers
- One third cup (80 mL) rolled oats cooked in 1 cup (240 mL) fat-free milk with cinnamon
- A hard-boiled egg and 12 almonds
- Fruit smoothie with 1 cup (240 mL) fat-free milk, half a small banana, and half cup (120 g) berries
- Five whole wheat crackers and 1 oz (28 g) low-fat cheddar
Why Snacks can be Good for you
Snacks are good for you, as long as you choose healthy snacks and DO NOT eat too much. Small snacks between meals can keep you from overeating at mealtimes and help you manage your weight.
Healthy snacks for adults can provide energy for work and exercise. Healthy snacks and drinks for children provide much needed energy for growth, school, and sports. Offer young children healthy snacks, and they may be more likely to choose them on their own when they get older. Avoid snacks with added sugar to help you maintain healthy teeth.
Eating a variety of snacks like the ones above will give you extra vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants (substances that help prevent cell damage), and other disease-fighting nutrients. Choosing low-calorie snacks can help you or your child maintain a healthy weight.
Avoid high-calorie sports drinks and packaged, processed snacks, likes chips or cookies. Include a glass of water with your snack instead of a sweetened beverage.
If you have diabetes, you may need to pay attention to the number of carbohydrates in your snacks, as well.
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American Diabetes Association (ADA). Food and Fitness: Snacks. Updated August 16, 2013. www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/food-tips/snacks.html. Accessed May 4, 2016.
American Heart Association. Healthy snacking. Updated May 27, 2014. www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Healthy-Snacking_UCM_301489_Article.jsp. Accessed May 4, 2016.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). How to Use Fruits and Vegetables to Manage Your Weight. Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Updated November 9, 2015. www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/fruits_vegetables.html. Accessed May 4, 2015.
U.S.Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy snacks: quick tips for parents. Updated February 25, 2016. healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/nutrition-and-physical-activity/nutrition/healthy-snacks-quick-tips-for-parents. Accessed May 4, 2016.
Review Date 4/25/2016
Updated by: Emily Wax, RD, The Brooklyn Hospital Center, Brooklyn, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.