Snacks are small, quick mini-meals. Snacks are eaten between meals and help keep you full. Including a protein source (such as nuts, beans, or low-fat or fat-free dairy) or a whole grain (such as whole wheat bread) can give snacks more "staying power" so you will not get hungry again as quickly. Healthy snacks are:
- Whole grain
- Low in added sugar
- Fresh foods like fruits and vegetables
Here are a dozen healthy 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 one 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 include healthy choices and snack mindfully. (For example, put the desired amount of food on a plate rather than eating directly from the bag.) 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.
Limit 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 website. Healthy food choices made easy. www.diabetes.org/nutrition/healthy-food-choices-made-easy. Accessed June 30, 2020.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. How to use fruits and vegetables to manage your weight. www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/fruits_vegetables.html. Updated January 31, 2020. Accessed June 30, 2020.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website. Healthy snacks: quick tips for parents. health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/everyday-healthy-living/nutrition/healthy-snacks-quick-tips-parents. Updated July 24, 2020. Accessed September 29, 2020.
Review Date 5/26/2020
Updated by: Meagan Bridges, RD, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, VA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 09/29/2020.