The 9 Best Healthy Snacks of 2021, According to a Dietitian

Snack smarter with these nutritious treats

Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products, and articles are reviewed by healthcare professionals for medical accuracy. You can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.

A healthy snack is a great way to keep you energized between meals. Many people feel best when they eat something every three to four hours, so if you're eating three meals, that may mean two or three snacks per day. Smart snacking can be a great strategy to promote optimal health, and even maintain your weight. But it's important to be thoughtful about timing and what food you're choosing.

Strategic, timed snacks can help to cut down excessive snacking that may lead to weight gain. Perhaps you aim to have a mid-morning and a mid-afternoon snack to bridge hunger between meals. Choosing a snack that contains fiber, healthy fat, and protein helps to keep you satisfied longer than snacks with refined carbohydrates and added sugars. While fresh foods like fruits and vegetables are wholesome snacks, there are some great packaged snacks on the market. No matter what your snack preference is—salty, crunchy, sweet, savory—there's a delicious, and nutritious, option for you.

Here, the best healthy snacks to fuel your day.

Best Overall: BIENA Chickpea Snacks

BIENA Chickpea Snacks

A good snack option should contain protein, fiber, and a bit of healthy fat. Biena Roasted Chickpea Snacks take the top pick for healthy snacks as the tasty product contains a ton of natural plant-based protein and fiber from crunchy baked chickpeas.

The individual packages are available in Honey Roasted, Ranch, or Sea Salt. The Sea Salt flavor contains only three ingredients—chickpeas, sunflower oil, and sea salt—and packs an impressive 8 grams of plant-based protein and fiber with only 140 calories. The Honey Roasted contains a bit less protein and fiber, with a bit of extra sugar from honey, but are the most delicious sweet, crunchy, and salty snack to satisfy sugar cravings.

The single-serve snack packs provide portion control and make the tasty treat easy to take on-the-go. The non-GMO, grain-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan snack is delicious straight out of the bag or as a crouton alternative in salads and soups. It's also produced in a peanut-free facility, so it's great for packing in school lunches.

Best Budget: Justin's Maple Almond Butter Squeeze Packs

Justin's Maple Almond Butter Squeeze Packs

For a delicious protein-packed snack on the go, these maple almond butter packs from Justin’s are hard to beat. Each 1.15-ounce pouch has 5 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and just 5 grams of sugar. They also contain 17g of healthy fat to help keep you satisfied. The convenient packets are perfect for pairing with fruit or crackers, mixing into yogurt or oatmeal, or just eating right from the pouch. An added bonus: they don’t need any refrigeration.

Justin’s also offers other nut butter flavors including classic peanut, honey peanut, classic almond, honey almond, vanilla almond, and chocolate hazelnut. When you buy these squeeze packs in bulk, they're a super affordable way to fuel up midday. The packets contain only natural, non-GMO ingredients including sustainably sourced palm oil, and are also vegan, gluten-free, and kosher.

Best Bar: The YES Bar Dark Chocolate Chip Yes Bar

The YES Bar Dark Chocolate Chip

It can be challenging to find a bar that checks all the nutrition boxes and still tastes great. With whole food ingredients and delicious cookie-like taste, the Yes Bar meets both criteria. The Dark Chocolate Chip flavor tastes like a chewy chocolate chip cookie and contains 5 grams of plant-based protein. It's made from ingredients that you can read, including almonds, dark chocolate, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and cashews.

Each bar contains 220 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and 8 grams of sugar from natural ingredients such as maple syrup and coconut nectar. While the bar is primarily made from nuts and seeds, it is free of gluten, grains, dairy, corn, soy, peanuts, eggs, and refined sugars. It's vegan and paleo-friendly. The tasty, convenient bar comes in other delicious flavors such as Salted Maple Pecan and is the perfect, quick snack any time of day.

Best Chips: Siete Foods Sea Salt Grain-Free Tortilla Chips

Siete Grain Free Tortilla Chips

If you crave crunchy, salty snacks, Siete's Grain-Free Tortilla Chips are a healthier-for-you version of your favorite chip. These paleo chips are lightly coated with sea salt and provide a satisfying crunch. Made from only five ingredients —cassava flour, avocado oil, coconut flour, ground chia seed, and sea salt—these chips are packed with just as much nutrition as taste. Each serving contains 150 calories, 8 grams of fats, 2 grams of fiber, and only 1 gram of sugar.

The crave-worthy chips are baked, then lightly fried in avocado oil. Avocado oil is known for its heart-healthy monounsaturated fats , high smoke point, and neutral flavor. This oil is a preferable alternative to highly processed vegetable oils used to make corn-based tortilla chips. Cassava flour is a naturally vegan and gluten-free flour that is great for those with food sensitivities and allergies. If you want even more flavor, the chips come in a variety of flavors including nacho, no salt, chipotle bbq, lime, and ranch.

Best Popcorn: LesserEvil Organic Himalayan Pink Salt Popcorn

Lesser Evil Organic Popcorn

Lesser Evil's classic, organic, 100% air-popped popcorn uses high-quality extra virgin coconut oil, non-GMO popcorn, and a sprinkle of Himalayan pink salt to create the perfect salty and crunchy snack with a hint of coconut sweetness. The Certified Organic popcorn is made from clean, sustainable ingredients, creating a treat that's healthier and tastier than your typical popped corn.

Lesser Evil claims that their popcorn contains 60% less fat, 40% more fiber, and 26% fewer calories than typical oil-popped popcorn. One serving of Lesser Evil popcorn, or 3 cups, contains 110 calories with 4 grams of fat, and 5 grams of fiber. It's also free of added sugar and sweeteners as well as vegan, kosher, and soy-free. If you're looking for more flavor in your popcorn, Lesser Evil makes a salty-sweet "Sweetness" flavor as well as "Himalayan Gold" butter-flavored popcorn.

Best Pretzels: From the Ground Up Cauliflower Sea Salt Pretzel Sticks

From The Ground Up Cauliflower Pretzels

Pretzel sticks are a go-to snack for all ages. From The Ground Up boosts the nutrition of the family favorite snack, creating pretzel sticks made from nutrient-rich cassava and cauliflower flours. The large serving size, about 40 sticks, provides 110 calories with 3 grams of fiber and only 1 gram of sugar. It also provides about 10% of your daily value for vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B6, and thiamin.

The Certified Gluten-Free version of the typical pretzel is a great snack option to be enjoyed dipped into hummus or on its own. The easy-to-digest flours provide a 100% vegan, gluten-free alternative for those with allergies or sensitivities. The distinct savory, umami flavor comes from the vegetable blend powder made from spinach, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, beets, and shiitake mushrooms.

Best Jerky: The New Primal Classic Beef Jerky

The New Primal Classic Beef Jerky

Beef jerky is an easy, portable, protein-rich snack; however, many companies use poor quality meat and tons of extra salt and sugar to make their jerky. The New Primal Classic Beef Jerky takes the top pick for healthy beef jerky, as the company uses 100% grass-fed beef, gluten-free tamari, honey, and organic pineapple and lemon juices to flavor the chewy, mouthwatering product. Each bag contains two 1-ounce servings which contain 70 calories, 10g protein, 2g carbohydrates, and 260mg sodium each.

Best Cookies: Simple Mills Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Simple Mills Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Simple Mills' Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies are made with plant-powered ingredients and are portioned perfectly for snacking. The simple ingredient list—mostly made up of almonds, coconut, and flaxseed blend—contains no artificial ingredients. The small, wholesome cookies are naturally sweetened using unrefined coconut sugar.

The grain-free, paleo-friendly cookies are a family favorite and are especially loved by those looking for a delicious gluten-free and dairy-free cookie. Each serving of four cookies contains 110 calories, 6 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein. The cookies also contain about 1 mg of iron or 4% of the daily recommended value, which is an added perk for vegans and vegetarians.

Best Nuts: Blue Diamond Almonds 100 Calorie On The Go Raw Almond Bags

Blue Diamond Almonds 100 Calorie On The Go Raw Almond Bags

If you're looking for an easy, nutritious snack to take with you on-the-go, nuts are a great option. Blue Diamond's Whole Raw Almonds are perfectly portioned into 100-calorie bags and are an incredibly nutritious snack. In fact, a review study published in 2018 showed that whole almonds are a heart-healthy snack that can help to reduce cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease. Eat them straight from the bag or pair them with a piece of fresh fruit for a balanced, wholesome snack.

Many nut mixes contain artificial ingredients and flavorings, as well as carbohydrate-rich mix-ins. Blue Diamond's packs contain only one ingredient: almonds. Each 0.625-ounce package provides 4 grams of protein and 9 grams of fat. The 100-calorie serving of almonds is also a great source of vitamin E, providing 30% of the daily value.

Final Verdict

If you're on the lookout for a healthy snack that is crunchy and packed with protein, try Biena Chickpea Snacks. The sea salt flavor satisfies your savory cravings, and the honey flavor is perfect for a day when you need a sweet but want something healthier.

What to Look for in a Healthy Snack

Calories

According to the USDA, snacks provide approximately one-quarter of daily calories for the average American adult. Considering that the average recommended daily calorie intake is 2000 calories per day, you should aim for total calories from snacks to be approximately 500 calories per day. That's two to three snacks of 150 to 250 calories each. Caloric needs are very individual, so your needs may be higher or lower than this estimate.

Macronutrients

Choose a snack that contains at least one of the following: protein, healthy fat, or whole-grain complex carbohydrates. Protein and fat are digested slower than carbohydrates, so choosing a snack that is high in protein or healthy fat may help you to feel satisfied longer.

If you have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes, pay attention to total carbohydrates on the food label and choose snacks that are higher in protein and fiber. If you are an athlete or need additional carbs, consider pairing a snack that's rich in protein or healthy fats with more whole grains. For example, slather a nut butter packet onto a slice of whole-wheat toast instead of eating it on its own.

Fiber

Dietary fiber can help to promote feelings of fullness and satiety. Check your snack food label, as even a few grams can help you reach your daily fiber goal.

Sodium

Many snack foods contain high levels of sodium for taste and as a preservative. Check the food label to see how much sodium is in each serving, and balance that within the daily recommended value of less than 2300 milligrams per day.

Sugar

While sugar naturally occurs in some foods, like dried fruit, read the label to ensure that there is no or low sugar added. Opt for snacks sweetened with natural sources like fruit or maple syrup. However, if you have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes and have a sweet tooth, try foods with artificial sweeteners.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What makes a snack healthy?

    A healthy snack should include a combination of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Incorporating all of these food groups ensures fullness and satisfaction between meals without excessive snacking. Be mindful of added sugars in snacks as well, as these can leave you feeling hungry sooner and lead to a mid-day slump of fatigue. 

  • How important is snacking?

    Since many people feel hungry every 3 or 4 hours, snacking is important for bridging the gap between meals and keeping blood sugar stable. Snacking provides increased energy between and can prevent overeating at the next meal. When choosing nutritious foods such as fresh fruit, veggies, nuts, and whole grains, snacking can increase vitamins, minerals, and fiber in the diet. 

  • Can you snack and still meet your weight loss goals?

    You can definitely snack and meet weight loss goals. Snacking may even promote weight loss by decreasing overeating at main meals. Weight gain may occur if snack portions are too large or you snack too frequently. Choice of snacks is important as well. Choose snacks that are nutrient-dense, high in fiber and protein, instead of those that are high in added sugars and salt and low in fiber.

  • How do you plan for snacks in your meal plan?

    Snacks can be easily integrated into your meal plan. Think about a typical day and when you get hungry or feel a craving in between meals. Ask yourself if you are eating out of hunger or another emotion, such as boredom, stress, or fatigue.

    Next, come up with a list of snacks that include a combination of protein, fiber, and healthy fats. Have these snacks on hand at home or in your office for when that mid-day slump hits. 

What Experts Say

"I'm a big fan of snacking, and encourage most of my clients to factor in one or two 'smart snacks'—snacks that are carefully chosen and planned for—during their day. Snacks provide a source of energy in between meals, help balance blood sugar levels throughout the day, and can reduce overall calorie consumption by managing hunger levels."
Lauren Bloch, MS, RDN

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

A personal note on my recommendations: As a dietitian, I frequently recommend healthy snacks as part of any balanced diet. In writing this article, I spent time looking at current clinical research on snacking and satiety. I also looked at multiple products and brands and consulted with trusted peers in dietetics.

I believe the products in the round-up are made by trusted brands and are composed of high-quality ingredients. I would recommend the above products to friends, family, and clients, and have personally tried all of the products. You can currently find Siete Sea Salt Tortilla Chips, Biena Honey Roasted Chickpeas, and Yes Bars in my pantry. 
Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

Was this page helpful?
2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Flores M, Saravia C, Vergara CE, Avila F, Valdés H, Ortiz-Viedma J. Avocado oil: Characteristics, properties, and applicationsMolecules. 2019;24(11):2172. doi:10.3390/molecules24112172

  2. Kalita S, Khandelwal S, Madan J, Pandya H, Sesikeran B, Krishnaswamy K. Almonds and cardiovascular health: A review. Nutrients. 2018;10(4):468. doi:10.3390/nu10040468