You may think you're sticking to a healthy diet plan by the snacks you choose. But nutritionists may disagree with some of your favorite treat choices.
Here are the top six snacks nutritionists say to cut out of your diet:
Veggie chips or puffs
The fresh veggies on the packaging can be deceiving. Be sure to check the ingredients on those veggie chips and puffs before you add them to your cart. You’ll often find potato flour and/or potato starch, cornmeal or rice flour as the main ingredients—not veggies. Because of the starchy add-ins, these snacks can pack far more calories than plain vegetables.
Simply being vegan doesn’t automatically make a food healthy or better for you. Vegan cookies are a perfect example: Many are made with loads of sugar and refined flour, and lack fiber and nutrients.
Not all gluten-free crackers are created equal, so reading the ingredient list is key. But it’s important to note that “gluten-free” is not synonymous with “healthy.” In some brands of gluten-free crackers, for example, the first two ingredients are white rice flour and vegetable oil—a refined grain paired with an oil heavy in omega-6 fatty acids, which have been linked to inflammation. The calories and carbs can also add up quickly, rivaling the amounts in potato chips.
The word fruit may be in the name, but the ingredients of one popular brand of fruit snacks include fruit puree combined with corn syrup, sugar, cornstarch, artificial flavors and artificial colors. Fruit snacks made with these ingredients can easily pack about 20 grams of carb in a serving the size of a ping pong ball. You could get the same amount of carbs from eating a baseball-size serving (one cup) of fresh blueberries, a medium apple, or two kiwis, all of which come bundled with filling fluid and fiber, along with antioxidants and more overall nutrients.
The healthfulness of trail mix really depends on how it’s made. Many brands contain dried fruit that’s been sweetened with sugar and treated with artificial preservatives, in addition to sugar-laden add-ins, like candy-coated milk chocolate. Per quarter cup (which is a serving about the size of a golf ball), these varieties can pack close to 200 calories and not much nutritional value.
They may seem like a healthier alternative to potato chips, but the main ingredient in most varieties is refined white flour (think white bread in a chip form). A one-ounce serving, about 10 chips, contains around 130 calories, including 5 grams of fat, 19 grams of carb, with only 1 gram as fiber, and no significant nutrients.