Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on June 08, 2021
Walnuts. Pecans. Almonds. Whatever kind you prefer, a small handful makes a great snack. They’re full of healthy fats, fiber, and protein. They also have minerals like magnesium. Skip the kinds that are dry-roasted or flavored -- they’re higher in sodium. Instead, add your own dash of flavor with cayenne pepper or cinnamon.
These young soybeans have a mild, buttery flavor that’s easy to like. And a three-fourths cup serving has just 7 grams of sodium. Edamame’s also packed with vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds that help protect your heart and lower your risk of some cancers. Look for edamame in the frozen food section. Steam or microwave, then sprinkle with a hint of salt and your favorite seasoning.
You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy this lunch box staple. It’s also high in calcium, which is good for your bones and teeth. The combo of lean protein and fiber-rich carbs help keep you fueled until your next meal. Look for low- or reduced-sodium options.
Veggies and Dip
You can’t go wrong when you snack on fresh-cut veggies like carrots, celery, and peppers. To make a healthy dip to go along with them, peel, seed, and grate a large cucumber. Drain the extra water. Mix with 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt, juice from half a lemon, 1 teaspoon dried dill, and a minced garlic clove. Chill for 1 hour before serving.
That bucket of movie popcorn can have over 1,000 calories and up to 2,650 milligrams of sodium. Air-pop your own at home for a high-fiber, low-sodium, and low-calorie snack. That’s because you control how it’s prepared. Go easy on the oil and butter. Instead of powdered flavorings or salt, try out different spices and seasonings, from curry powder to a mix of cumin, paprika, and chili powder.
Don’t let their small size fool you. Seeds, like pumpkin and sunflower, are loaded with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, and protein. They’re also a good option if you have an allergy to peanuts or tree nuts. Seeds are high in calories, so stick to a small handful. Choose unsalted or lightly salted versions so you don’t overdo it on the sodium.
Crispy kale chips are full of vitamins, minerals, and cancer-fighting compounds. To make your own, rinse kale and remove the stems. Tear the leaves into bite-size pieces, and toss with olive oil and salt-free seasonings of your choice. Spread onto a baking sheet, and bake at 300 degrees for 18 minutes or until crisp. Once cooled, store in an air-tight container.
One slice of cheese pizza can have as much as 730 milligrams of sodium. When you crave pizza but not the salt, top a toasted whole-wheat English muffin or pita with 2 tablespoons tomato sauce, ½ cup diced veggies of your choice, and 2 tablespoons low-fat mozzarella cheese.
Also called garbanzo beans, they’re a crunchy, high-fiber snack. Rinse a can of chickpeas and pat dry with a paper towel. Mix with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and your choice of spices. Try garlic powder, pepper, cumin, chile powder, or whatever savory mix you like. Spread onto a foil-lined baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
Ants on a Log
There’s a reason you probably had celery sticks spread with peanut butter and sprinkled with raisins as a kid. It’s high in protein and fiber so it’ll tide you over. It’s also quick to make and take on the go. When choosing which nut butter to use, don’t forget to read the label. Your healthiest bet is a brand that only has one ingredient: the nut of your choice.
Potatoes contain almost no sodium, while being high in vitamins B and C, and potassium. They’re also a good source of folate and iron. Microwave a small potato and top with reduced-fat shredded cheese and salsa for a hearty snack.
When you need a fast snack to stave off hunger, a hard-boiled egg may be the way to go. Just one has 6 grams of protein to help fill you up. Eggs are high in nutrients like vitamin D, which is good for bone health. And they also have lutein, which helps protect your eyes. Because eggs are high in cholesterol, try not to eat more than one a day. If you have diabetes or heart disease, aim for no more than two to three eggs each week.
Low-Sodium Chips and Salsa
Still craving that bag of chips? Go for it -- just choose your healthiest option. Opt for reduced-sodium potato or baked tortilla chips. Or look for unsalted whole grain pretzels. Pair with salsa to add more nutrients and flavor. Just make sure the salsa isn’t loaded with salt or sugar. Or make your own.
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Eatright.org: “Smart Snacking for Adults and Teens,” “25 Healthy Snacks for Kids,” “Eating to Boost Energy.”
Doylestown Health: “Healthy alternatives to salty snacks.”
American Heart Association: “Smart Substitutions to Eat Healthy,” “Popcorn as a snack: Healthy hit or dietary horror show?” “Are eggs good for you or not?”
Harvard Health Publishing: “Simple Swaps to Eat Less Salt.”
Mayo Clinic: “The Many Types and Health Benefits of Kale.”
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: “Treat yourself and eat right, bite by bite.”
European Food Information Council: “The Nutritional Value of Potatoes.”
Cleveland Clinic: “9 Best Tips for Healthier Popcorn,” “Recipe: Steamed Edamame,” “The 6 Best Seeds to Eat,” “5 Protein-Packed Foods for Healthy, Meatless Meals.”
Samaritan Health Services: “Enjoy the Health Benefits of Eating Nuts & Seeds.”
Beebe Healthcare: “Healthy Snacks for the Beach or Pool.”
UnityPoint Health: “7 Convenient and Healthy Snacks for Kids and Adults.”
Michigan State University Extension: “Ants on a Log.”
Cedars Sinai: “Nut Butters: Which One is Healthiest?”