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Could your "healthy" snacks be surprisingly unhealthy?

Make the switch to smarter choices

From SheKnows Canada
With broad terms such as "sugar-free" and "low-fat" gracing the boxes of many snacks, it's easy to get tricked into buying a product that isn't nearly as nutritious as it claims. Find out here if you've been accidentally snacking on some surprisingly unhealthy options.

woman eating granola bar

Granola bars

Granola bars make convenient on-the-go snacks, but it's important to be selective when attempting to choose the healthiest option. Nature Valley's Sweet & Salty Nut Peanut Granola Bar, for instance, might seem healthy at first glance, but in reality, the first and second ingredients are high maltose corn syrup and sugar, which give your body a whopping 12 grams of sugar in just one bar. A healthier option is Kashi's Peanut Butter Granola Bars, which have just 5 grams of sugar and are sweetened primarily with brown rice syrup, which has a lower glycemic index than white sugar. Or better yet, make your own homemade granola bars so you'll know exactly what you're putting into your body.

Nut mixes

Nuts are often praised for being high in protein and other worthy vitamins and minerals — and for good reason. But many store-bought nut mixes can be loaded up with added salt, fat and sugar, which aren't what you want to be noshing on when you're trying to make healthy choices. Planters' Honey Roasted Macadamia Cashew Mix, for example, contains sugar, corn syrup, honey, salt and oil, which bring the mix to 160 calories for just a 28-gram helping. For a healthier option, buy raw, unsalted nuts at your local bulk store, and toss them together to create your own nut mix that's completely free of added sugar, salt and oil.

Find out why low-cal snack packs might not be the answer >>

Yogourt

Have you gotten into the habit of snacking on yogourt because you heard it's low in fat and a good source of protein and probiotics? Well, the good news is that there are yogourts that fall into that description, but there are also varieties that don't — and those are the ones to watch out for. A single serving of Liberté's Méditerrannée Strawberry Yogourt, for instance, serves up a whopping 42 per cent of your daily recommended amount of trans and saturated fats, and it also offers 24 grams of sugar. For a healthier option, opt for its Plain 0% Greek Yogourt, which has only two ingredients — skim milk and bacterial cultures — which can improve nutrient absorption and aid with digestion. Simply stir in a handful of berries to get that sweet flavour you're looking for.

Peanut butter

Peanut butter might seem like the perfect healthy snack, because it can be easily spread on apples, bananas, pita bread, whole-wheat crackers and more. Unfortunately most traditional brands, such as Jif's Regular Creamy Peanut Butter, mix sugar, oil and salt into the ground peanuts. The Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter Spread might seem like a healthier option, but it just means the space that was once taken up by peanuts is replaced with additives, such as corn syrup solids and other fillers. To get the most nutritional bang for your buck, try something along the lines of PC Organics Smooth Peanut Butter, which is made of 100 per cent organic peanuts and no additional fillers or flavours. Or for a nutritious and creative option, make your very own homemade nut butters.

Make your own healthy snack options, such as these trail mix cookies >>

The most important rule of thumb when it comes to picking out healthy snacks is to always read the ingredient list and nutritional label. Just because you've heard a certain kind of food is healthy doesn't guarantee the particular brand you reach for will deliver on those promises. So the best thing you can do is to ensure you always know just how nutritious that "healthy" snack really is. A little bit of time spent researching can lead to far healthier choices in the long run.

More healthy snack ideas

Easy, tasty, heart-healthy snacks
Healthy late-night snacking
Healthy snacks to bring with you into the new year

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