12 Healthy Snacks
Chocolate Hazelnut Bark
Science says snacking is good for you. The 5,000-subject-strong National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that people who ate snacks in addition to three meals a day had higher levels of nutrients in their diets.
Smart Homemade Snack: Dark chocolate with nuts (139 calories)
Benefits: Chocolate contains polyphenols and flavonoids, two types of antioxidants shown to help prevent damage caused by cholesterol in arteries.
Warm Cranberry-Walnut Brie
Don't deny yourself. When Belgian researchers told 68 women to either enjoy or refuse their favorite snack, the refusers ate more of the forbidden snack once they were given the green light a day later. Sensible snacking helps you avoid bingeing.
Smart Choice: Baked brie with nuts and cranberries, plus whole-wheat crackers for dipping (188 calories)
Benefits: Warm, gooey brie satisfies a craving for creamy foods. Dried cranberries add antioxidants, and walnuts contribute heart-healthy fats and a nutty crunch.
Rosemary Roasted Almonds
Portion size matters, especially with some nutrient-rich, yet calorically dense snacks, such as almonds. Research has shown snackers will eat more if a larger portion is offered to them, so don't plop down on the sofa with a bag of snacks and tell yourself you'll stop at just a few. Measure out a serving, and enjoy.
Smart Homemade Snack: Almonds roasted with oil and spices (111 calories)
Benefits: Studies have shown that consuming small amounts of nuts regularly has been linked to reduced risk of heart disease. Plus antioxidants contained in the skin of whole almonds may play a role in reducing oxidative stress as well as LDL cholesterol.
Pecan Almond Peanut Clusters
RD-Approved Packaged Snack: True North Pecan Almond Peanut Clusters
Benefits: Satisfyingly crunchy and slightly sweet, contain just seven ingredients: peanuts, almonds, brown rice syrup, pecans, organic sugar, and sea salt. One serving has 170 calories, 11 grams of "good" fat, and just 75 milligrams of sodium.
RD-Approved Packaged Snack: Vitatops
RD-Approved Store-Bought Snack: Whole fruit, in season
Benefits: A great source of fiber, whole fruit helps keep you feeling fuller longer. But don't drink your fruit. When Purdue researchers gave 20 people an apple, applesauce, or apple juice, those who drank their snack were the quickest to report being hungry.
100-Calorie Snack: 3½ cups 94% fat-free microwaveable popcorn
Benefits: Popcorn has a lot of bulk for its calories, so it helps fill you up. Plus, 3½ cups contains one of your three recommended daily servings of whole grains.
100-Calorie Snack: 1 1/3 ounces pitted olives
Benefits: This fruit satisfies a salty craving and supplies a decent amount of heart-healthy fats.
Hummus with Carrots
This popular Middle Eastern treat is easy to find in most grocery stores and a perfect dip for many fresh veggies. Typically made with chickpeas, as in our Traditional Hummus recipe, it can also be made with soybeans, black-eyed peas, or other healthful legumes.
100-Calorie Snack: ¼ cup hummus with 4 carrot sticks
Benefits: Five grams of filling fiber mean you won't go hungry for a while.
Mood-Boosting Snack: ½ cup shelled edamame (100 calories)
Benefits: Folate-rich foods like edamame may even out moods: In a few small studies, people with higher levels of folate in their systems reported less mood variability.
Bagel with Peanut Butter
Mood-Boosting Snack: Half a 100% whole-grain bagel with 1 tablespoon peanut butter (240 calories)
Benefits: Carbohydrates trigger the release of feel-good chemicals. Pick quality carbs, like whole grains with fiber, for a longer-lasting high.
Eating a snack with protein rather than just carbs can help curb hunger, keeping daily calories in check. Good options include an ounce of nuts or a small low-fat yogurt.
Mood-Boosting Snack: 8 ounces of low-fat plain yogurt (140 calories)
Benefits: Several studies link vitamin B12 deficiency to depression. While it's not an antidepressant, B12-rich low-fat yogurt might help lift a bad mood, and its live bacteria are your friends.