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Healthier snack food choices: Eat this, not that

Michele Borboa, MS is a freelance writer and editor specializing in health, fitness, food, lifestyle, and pets. Michele is a health and wellness expert, personal chef, cookbook author, and pet-lover based in Bozeman, Montana. She is also...

Healthier snack food products

If you’re striving to lose weight or improve your diet, every supermarket aisle can seem off limits. The crackers and chips are calling your name while the croissants and brownies are aiming to disarm your best healthy eating intentions. Does this mean your only hope is to limit yourself to the produce section? Not in our book! Instead of battling your temptations for your favorite foods, simply opt for these healthier food choices.

1Crackers

Got a craving for crunch and want a tasty cracker to partner with your favorite cheese?

Eat this

Blue Diamond Natural Almond Nut Thins: A gluten-free delicious nut and rice cracker, Nut Thins pack 3 grams of protein and only 130 calories for 16 crackers. Best yet, they are free of sugar, cholesterol, saturated fat and trans-fat.

Not that

Nabisco Wheat Thins Original: A well-known cracker brand, Wheat Thins come in at 140 calories per serving yet boast twice as much fat (which includes saturated fat) and sodium as Nut Thins, while supplying 230 milligrams of sodium and 4 grams of sugar.

Blue Diamond Natural Almond Nut Thins

2Chips for dipping

When you need a chip for dipping, reach for the brand with the most fiber and least saturated fat, sodium and sugar.

Eat this

Food Should Taste Good Multigrain All Natural Chips: Made of wholesome ingredients such as quinoa, flax, sunflower and sesame seeds, these flavorful crackers are free of sugar, gluten, trans-fat and cholesterol. They also provide 3 grams each of fiber and protein, 4 grams of monounsaturated fat and only 62 milligrams of sodium per 140-calorie serving.

Not that

Fritos Original Corn Chips: Though a 147-calorie, 1-ounce serving delivers more chips, Fritos also pack 10 grams of fat, more than twice as much sodium as Food Should Taste Good Multigrain Chips, and only 1 gram of fiber.

Food Should Taste Good Multigrain All Natural Chips

3Chips for snacking

Craving puffed chips for easy snacking?

Eat this

LesserEvil Veggie Krinkle Sticks: Made with real vegetables plus seven whole grains -- wheat, oat, barley, buckwheat, millet, quinoa and white corn -- these puffed chips are baked, not fried, and only have 120 calories, 4.5 grams of fat (trans-fat free) and 190 milligrams of sodium per 35 sticks.

Not that

Frito-Lay Cheetos: In addition to being made with artificial coloring and flavoring, hydrogenated soybean oil, and MSG, Cheetos come in at 147 calories, 10 grams of fat and 290 milligrams of sodium per serving.

LesserEvil Veggie Krinkle Sticks

4Brownies

When you're not really into baking but really want a brownie …

Eat this

Fiber One Chocolate Fudge Brownies New from Fiber One, these scrumptious 90-calorie brownies supply 20 percent of your daily value for fiber (5 grams per serving) at only 3 grams of fat, 8 grams of sugar and 100 milligrams of sodium.

Not that

Betty Crocker Warm Delights Hot Fudge Brownie: At a whopping 370 calories, 13 grams of fat (with 5 grams of saturated fat) and 300 milligrams of sodium per serving, this brownie's first ingredient is sugar (40 grams per brownie). In addition, it's made with high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, hydrogenated palm oil and added coloring. If you really need to indulge, you're better off pouring hot fudge sauce on the Fiber One Brownie and adding a small scoop of ice cream.

Fiber One Chocolate Fudge Brownies

5Croissants

You may know that whole-grain bread is the best for sandwiches or breakfast choice, but sometimes a croissant is all you want. "Healthy" and "croissant" are two words rarely used in the same breath, but you can find healthier versions of this rich, buttery, light and flaky treat.

Eat this

Thomas Croissants: Leave it to Thomas to come up with a croissant that only has 147 calories and 3 grams of saturated fat, yet will still satisfy your croissant cravings. Each croissant also gives you 10 percent of the Daily Value for iron and 170 milligrams sodium.

Not that

Au Bon Pain Croissant: Rolling in at 270 calories per croissant, the Au Bon Croissant delivers 15 grams of fat (8 grams saturated), 200 milligrams of sodium, and 1 gram of fiber. And that's just the croissant – not including any fillings or additional items you eat or drink with it.

Thomas Croissants

6Snack bars

Nutrition bars are usually -- but not always -- a better snack grab than candy bars. Read labels before you buy and choose ones made of natural nutrient-packed ingredients.

Eat this

Orchard Bars: These all natural, vegan and gluten-free nutrition bars are loaded with fruit and nuts,  sunflower and flax seeds, and high-protein soy nuggets, and come in at 190 calories and 5 grams of protein. Rich in antioxidants, low in sodium (only 65 milligrams), high in omega-3s and a good source of protein, these bars contain no preservatives, no artificial flavors or colors, and no cholesterol or saturated fat. They are available in a variety of flavors including Blueberry Pomegranate Almond and Pineapple Coconut Macadamia.

Not that

Quaker Chocolate Chip Chewy Granola Bar: This bar comes in at 90 calories less than the Orchard Bars but it also comes up short on protein and fiber (only 1 gram each per bar). You also get corn syrup solids, sorbitol and artificial colors and flavors. The Orchard Bars have 7 grams of fat per bar, compared to Quaker's 3 grams per bar, but the fat in Quaker bars comes mostly from soybean oil, not omega-rich nuts and seeds.

Orchard Bars:

7Trail mix

A popular snack grab, don't just settle for whatever mix is on sale. An inherently healthy eat, trail mix can be adulterated with added sugar, fats and artificial ingredients.

Eat this

SunRidge Farms Women's Vitality Mix: This natural protein-packed trail mix contains almonds, dried blueberries, soy nuts, cashews, dark chocolate chips, pumpkin seeds and more, and is specially formulated for women's health, with calcium, iron and antioxidants. At 130 calories per serving, this healthy snack also gives you a healthy dose of zinc, iron and 47 percent of the Daily Value of calcium per serving.

Not that

Walmart's Great Value Mountain Trail Mix: If the calories (300!) alone don't scare you off, the ingredient list should. In addition to the raisins, peanuts, cashews, and M&Ms, you get sugar, corn syrup and a rainbow of artificial coloring, along with a caution you might find an occasional shell fragment. The 2-ounce bag (which most people will eat in its entirety) does have 4 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein but has a mere 4 percent DV for calcium and little else in way of nutrients.

SunRidge Farms Women's Vitality Mix

More options for healthier food

Healthier snacks you can grab on the go
Make healthier fruit choices
How to eat healthier at every meal

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