Sometimes you simply get too busy to prepare and eat a healthy meal.
Having some healthy snacks on hand can be useful when this happens.
Here are 29 healthy and weight loss friendly snacks to add to your diet.
Nuts are an ideal nutritious snack.
They've been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and may help prevent certain cancers, depression and other diseases (, ).
Despite being relatively high in fat, they are very filling. Several studies suggest that eating nuts in moderation can help you lose weight (, , ).
They also taste great and don't require refrigeration, so they're perfect for carrying with you when away from home.
Red bell peppers are extremely healthy.
Although all bell peppers are nutritious, red peppers are highest in antioxidants like beta carotene, capsanthin and quercetin ().
They're are also rich in vitamin C. In fact, 1 large red bell pepper contains over 300% of the RDI for vitamin C ().
Pairing 1 large red bell pepper with 3 oz (85 grams) of guacamole adds healthy fat and fiber while keeping this snack's calorie count under 200.
In addition to being a great source of calcium and potassium, Greek yogurt is also high in protein ().
Berries are one of the best sources of antioxidants around. You'll get a good variety of antioxidants if you consume a mixture of different-colored berries ().
Combining 3.5 oz (100 grams) of plain full-fat Greek yogurt with half a cup of mixed berries provides about 10 grams of protein and less than 150 calories.
Apples are high in fiber and polyphenol antioxidants that improve gut health and reduce heart disease risk (, ).
Peanut butter may have additional benefits for heart health. It has been shown to increase HDL and reduce LDL cholesterol and triglycerides ().
That being said, peanut butter is fairly high in calories. Although it generally hasn't been linked to weight gain, it's best consumed in moderation.
A medium apple with 1 tablespoon of natural peanut butter provides a nice balance of sweet flavor with crisp and creamy textures at under 200 calories.
Cottage cheese is a high-protein food that is very filling, and full-fat varieties contain conjugated linoleic acid, which may help reduce body fat (, ).
Flaxseeds are beneficial for weight loss, blood sugar control and may also reduce breast cancer risk (, ).
Cinnamon helps lower blood sugar and may improve gut health (, ).
Here's an easy recipe that combines all three ingredients to provide about 15 grams of protein with less than 150 calories:
Cinnamon Flaxseed Pudding
- 1/2 cup cottage cheese.
- 1 tablespoon flaxseeds.
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon.
- Stevia or other sweetener, if desired.
Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.
Celery sticks with cream cheese are a classic low-carb snack.
Celery contains luteolin, an antioxidant that reduces inflammation and may also help prevent cancer ().
Adding cream cheese turns the celery sticks into a delicious and satisfying snack.
Five small celery sticks with 2 oz (60 grams) of cream cheese contain less than 200 calories.
Kale is incredibly healthy. It's loaded with fiber and antioxidants like quercetin and kaempferol.
These compounds decrease blood pressure and may reduce the risk of colon cancer (, , ).
A 1-cup serving of raw kale provides more than 100% of the RDI for vitamins A, C and K ().
This easy recipe for kale chips provides about 150 calories:
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Place kale pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 350° F (175° C) for 10–15 minutes.
Dark chocolate is loaded with flavanols that may lower blood pressure and reduce heart disease risk, provided the chocolate contains at least 70% cocoa solids ().
Almonds are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and have beneficial effects on blood sugar control. Studies also show that they can reduce appetite and help you lose weight (, , ).
Both dark chocolate and almonds are high in magnesium. One ounce of each provides about 300 calories in total, depending on cocoa content.
Cucumber and hummus are nutritious and go well together.
Cucumbers contain cucurbitacin E, a compound that may have anti-cancer effects.
Hummus is made from chickpeas, olive oil and garlic, which reduce inflammation and may improve heart health (, , , ).
One cup of sliced cucumbers dipped in 3.5 oz (100 grams) of hummus has about 180 calories.
Healthy snacks don't need to be complicated. Just a single piece of fruit can be incredibly satisfying.
Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, potassium and lycopene, an antioxidant that may reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease (, ).
Mozzarella cheese is high in protein, calcium and vitamin B12. It may also decrease heart disease risk by raising your levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol ().
One cup of cherry tomatoes paired with 2 oz (60 grams) of mozzarella cheese has less than 200 calories.
They're also very high in antioxidants that help reduce inflammation and improve heart health (, ).
Although they don't have much flavor, they do take on a fun, jelly-like consistency when soaked in liquid. Chia seed pudding is one great example, and makes a satisfying snack at less than 200 calories:
Chia Seed Pudding
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds.
- 1/3 cup water.
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder.
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter.
- Stevia or other sweetener, if desired.
Combine chia seeds and water in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Stir in cocoa powder, peanut butter and sweetener.
Eggs are one of the healthiest and most weight loss-friendly foods you can eat.
They contain protein, vitamin K2 and B12, to name a few.
Eggs are incredibly filling and may reduce the amount of calories you eat for many hours, which should help you lose weight (, ).
Although their high cholesterol content gave them a bad reputation for years, new studies show that eggs don't have any effect on your risk of heart disease (, ).
Two large, hard-boiled eggs contain about 140 calories and 13 grams of protein.
Carrots are among the best sources of carotenoids, including beta carotene, which your body can convert into vitamin A.
The carotenoids found in carrots may reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease and cataracts (, , ).
It's a good idea to pair carrots with a creamy salad dressing or dip because fat increases the absorption of carotenoids.
A 3.5 oz (100 grams) serving of baby carrots with 2 tablespoons of blue cheese dressing provides about 200 calories.
Cheese is a delicious food that's filling enough to be a snack on its own.
Additionally, studies have shown that up to 2 servings of cheese per day don't raise LDL cholesterol levels, even in people with elevated cholesterol (, ).
A 2 oz (60 grams) serving of cheese contains about 14 grams of protein and 200 calories.
Beef jerky or beef sticks make great high-protein, portable snacks. But make sure you choose the right type.
Some jerkies are loaded with sugar and preservatives. Beef sticks generally don't contain sugar, but many aren't made from high-quality meat and may contain other questionable ingredients.
Most beef jerkies and sticks contain about 7 grams of protein per ounce (28 grams).
A whey protein shake is a good snack when you need something substantial until your next meal.
Studies show that whey protein can help you gain muscle and lose fat, as well as improve body composition (, , , ).
There are many great whey protein supplements on the market. Look for types without added sugar.
Here's a recipe for a whey protein shake that contains about 150–200 calories and 20–25 grams of protein, depending on the type of protein powder you use.
Whey Protein Shake
- 8 oz (225 grams) unsweetened almond milk.
- 1 scoop whey powder.
- Stevia or other healthy sweetener, if desired.
- 1/2 cup crushed ice.
Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.
Canned fish is a fantastic healthy snack that requires no refrigeration.Salmon and sardines are extremely high in omega-3 fatty acids that decrease the risk of heart disease and other health problems (, , ).
Fish is also a great source of weight loss friendly protein, potassium and vitamin B12. Many types of fish are also high in magnesium.
A 3.5 oz (100 grams) serving of salmon or sardines contains 17–23 grams of protein and 130–180 calories.
Edamame is a dish of steamed unripened soybeans.
It's a great snack for vegetarians or anyone who enjoys their unique flavor and texture.
Edamame is rich in the antioxidant kaempferol, which has been shown to cause weight loss and lower blood sugar in animal studies (, ).
It is also high in folate and several minerals, including iron, magnesium and manganese.
One cup of edamame has around 17 grams of protein and 180 calories.
Marinated artichoke hearts are delicious and nutrient-dense.
Artichoke hearts contain fiber and are a good source of vitamin K and folate.
Studies have shown that artichokes help protect the cells lining your arteries and contain prebiotic fibers that nourish the beneficial bacteria in your gut (, ).
A 3.5 oz (100 grams) serving of artichoke hearts marinated in olive oil contains about 190 calories.
Pear slices and ricotta cheese make a satisfying snack with a sweet taste and creamy texture.
Pears, especially the peels, contain polyphenol antioxidants that have strong anti-inflammatory properties (, ).
Ricotta cheese is rich in protein and calcium. In one study, older adults who consumed 7 oz (210 grams) of ricotta cheese daily for 12 weeks had improvements in muscle mass and strength ().
A 3.5 oz (100 grams) serving of ricotta cheese with 1 small chopped pear provides about 12 grams of protein and 250 calories.
Dried coconut is tasty, filling and portable.
It's high in fat, including medium-chain fats that may increase metabolism, promote weight loss and improve brain function in people with impaired memory (, , ).
Make sure to get the unsweetened type, since many packaged options contain sugar. Unsweetened dried coconut contains about 185 calories in 1 oz (28 grams).
Turkey roll-ups are delicious and nutritious.
Turkey contains high-quality protein, which helps you feel satisfied, preserves muscle mass and burns more calories during digestion than fat or carbs (, , ).
These roll-ups are also easy to make. The recipe below contains about 20 grams of protein and 180 calories:
- 4 slices turkey breast.
- 4 teaspoons cream cheese.
- 4 pickles or cucumber strips.
Place turkey breast slices on a large plate. Spread 1 teaspoon of cream cheese on each slice. Place a pickle or strip of cucumber on each turkey slice and roll up.
They are very high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and contain powerful antioxidants like oleuropein.
The plant compounds in olives can fight inflammation, reduce insulin resistance and may even help decrease cancer risk (, ).
Depending on their size, 25 green or black olives contain about 100–175 calories.
Avocados are among the most nutritious and satisfying foods on the planet.
Studies show that they can help lower LDL cholesterol, improve symptoms of arthritis and protect skin from sun damage, among other benefits (, , ).
What's more, avocados are high in fiber, potassium, magnesium and monounsaturated fat.
Sprinkle half a medium avocado with salt and a dash of cayenne pepper for a savory, filling snack with around 130 calories.
Sun-dried tomatoes contain more lycopene than regular tomatoes ().
What's more, they are usually packed in olive oil, which helps your body absorb more of the lycopene ().
A 3.5 oz (100 grams) serving of sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil provides 170% of the RDI for vitamin C and contains a little more than 200 calories ().
Cantaloupe is a nutritious, tasty fruit.
It contains powerful antioxidants that fight inflammation, keep your eyes healthy and may reduce your risk of disease (, ).
Cantaloupe is also very high in vitamins A and C, and is a good source of potassium.
Combining cantaloupe with prosciutto (dry-cured ham) creates a balanced snack with sweet and salty flavor for under 200 calories.
Directions: Cut 3.5 oz (100 grams) of cantaloupe into wedges. Wrap each wedge with 1 slice of prosciutto.
If you have any leftovers from healthy meals you ate the previous day, you can eat some of those leftovers as a snack.
Just make sure to always store your leftovers in the refrigerator to keep them from spoiling quickly.
Sometimes you just really need a snack.
Having some healthy and nutritious options close by can help you avoid unhealthy and fattening alternatives.