Lockdown mode has got all of us eating more than usual. Here, dietitian Melissa Meier ranks the healthiest pre-packaged savoury treats to keep at hand.
You probably already know a lot about healthy snacking. A piece of fresh fruit… A tub of yoghurt… A handful of vegetable sticks. These are the typical snacks we’re told are ‘healthy’. But sometimes, they just don’t cut it – and that’s perfectly OK.
Behold: the healthiest pre-packaged savoury snacks you’ll find on the supermarket shelves.
What makes for a ‘healthy snack’?
When it comes to healthy snacks, there’s a few things you should probably consider. The first is to ensure your snack is actually made of real food – not ultra-processed rubbish your grandmother wouldn’t recognise.
Aside from fresh produce, some of the best snacks you can get your hands on are made from wholegrains (brown rice, wholegrain wheat, rolled oats) and legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils). Why? Both of these food groups are associated with a loooong list of health benefits.
Eating wholegrains regularly, for example, is linked to reduced risk of death, heart disease and diabetes. Eating enough legumes, on the other hand, can help to manage blood sugars and cholesterol, and is also associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, as well as diabetes and cancer.
There are three other important factors to consider when it comes to healthy snacking:
- The portion size – as a blanket rule, a healthy snack contains just 600 kilojoules (about 150 calories) or less. They are not supposed to be mini meals. Rather, just a couple of bites to keep annoying hunger pangs at bay.
- The fibre content – you’re looking for at least three grams of fibre per serve. That’s not just to support gut health, but to keep you feeling full.
- The protein content – as much protein as you can get (without resorting to supplements and powders) is a good idea. It will also help to keep you feeling full.
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Top 5 healthiest pre-packaged savoury snacks
#1. The Happy Snack Company Roasted Fav-va Beans Classic Lightly Salted ($5.30 at Woolworths)
These babies are a great way to get legumes into your diet and are the perfect alternative to salty chips.
Per 25g serve:
- 445kJ (105cal)
- 6.8g protein
- 0.3g sat fat
- 9.1g carbs
- 3.8g fibre
- 62mg sodium
#2. Cobs Natural Popcorn Sea Salt ($2.85 at Woolworths)
Yes, popcorn is healthy! Classified as a wholegrain, plain, air-popped popcorn contributes fibre to support gut health and micronutrients to keep your body working it’s best.
Per 13g serve:
- 258kJ (62cal)
- 0.9g protein
- 0.3g sat fat
- 6.5g carbs
- 1.7g fibre
- 47mg sodium
#3. Heinz Baked Beans Salt Reduced ($1.65 at Coles)
Another goodie with legumes in mind. These mini tins are handy to leave in your desk drawer or pantry.
Per 130g serve:
- 425kJ (102cal)
- 5.7g protein
- 0.1g sat fat
- 15.6g carbs
- 4.7g fibre
- 310mg sodium
#4. Arnott’s Vita-Weat Original ($3.30 at Woolworths)
The perfect base to pair with a healthy dip or slice of cheese, these humble savoury crackers are oh-so-good for you.
Per 23g serve:
- 390kJ (93cal)
- 2.6g protein
- 0.3g sat fat
- 15.2g carbs
- 2.7g fibre
- 116mg sodium
#5. Lucky Nuts Walnuts, Cashews and Almonds ($7.40 at Woolworths)
For a hit of heart healthy fats, nuts are an excellent choice. These 30 gram cartons make it easy to stick to a sensible portion.
Per 30g serve:
- 780kJ (186cal)
- 5.4g protein
- 2g sat fat
- 4.7g carbs
- 1.8g fibre
- 2mg sodium
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can connect with her at www.honestnutrition.com.au or on Instagram @honest_nutrition.