Junk Foods That Are Actually Healthy

chocolate on table
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Junk food can be good for you! Okay, well, relatively healthy at least. So grab these snacks before grabbing that Twix or Twinkie (sorry), and your waistline (and blood pressure!) will thank us.
  1. Chips

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    “If you are craving something salty, choose plain potato chips over flavored ones,” says Andrea Donsky, coauthor of Unjunk Your Junk Food. Donsky also advises choosing a brand that does not contain MSG (monosodium glutamate, a common additive), like Kettle chips. Tamara Duker Freuman, RD, a New York-based dietician, recommends Beanitos bean chips. “They’re like a tortilla chip,” says Freuman, “but instead of being made from refined, genetically modified corn, they’re made from high-fiber, high-protein beans and some whole-grain rice.” (Translation: Yummy and filling!)
  2. Chocolate

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    For the easiest, healthiest chocolate snack, go for Emerald Cocoa Roast Almonds (or a similar brand). “Instead of chocolate-covered almonds that have a lot of added sugar and fat, these almonds are like plain almonds calorie-wise,” says Freuman. “So it’s almost as if the chocolate flavor is ‘free’!”
    Allergic to or not diggin’ nuts? Cacao nibs are also a good choice to satisfy a craving, and they’re super-low in sugar. (Bonus: They’re loaded with cancer-fighting antioxidants.)

  3. Snack Cakes

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    Glenny’s 100-calorie Brownies and Blondies are a decent choice,” says Freuman. They’ve got 7 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein, so they’re likely to be more satisfying than a snack cake made mostly of sugar and refined flour. While they aren’t snack cakes (sniff, sniff), fruit bars can give you the cakey sweetness you’re looking for. Donsky recommends Barbara’s Multigrain Cereal Bars. “These bars contain real strawberry puree, as opposed to other bars!” she says.

  4. Cookies

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    When you’re hankering for a cookie, go for that childhood snack instead: graham crackers. “Graham flour is actually a whole grain, and graham crackers are relatively low in sugar and calories. Topped with a thin layer of peanut butter, they can scratch the sweet and salty itch at the same time!” says Freuman. Jonesing for the real thing? Oatmeal and ginger cookies are your best bets. Try Pamela’s Products ginger cookies, says Donsky. “They are gluten-free, so they’re great for people with gluten sensitivities or intolerances. Plus, they’re crunchy and delicious,” she says. Freuman agrees: “Mi-Del, also gluten-free, ginger snaps have about 30 calories each.”
  5. Frozen Treats

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    Haagen-Dazs isn’t going to do you any favors, but you can still enjoy an occasional ice treat. “I’ve been recommending frozen Greek yogurt bars by Yasso, or Adonia by Ciao Bella, a lot lately,” says Freuman. With the bars boasting at least 5 grams of protein, they also have only 70 to 75 calories each, and unlike most low-calorie ice cream bars, they have a much more natural ingredient list, says Freuman. An extra bonus with the individual bars? Portion control!

  6. Gummy Snacks

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    While Freuman advises against all gummy snacks, as “they’re all essentially pure sugar,” Donsky says that if you’re going to eat them, go natural. Some of her favorite artificial-dye-free brands: Surf Sweets (which offers several gummy products), Newman’s Own Organics (licorice twists in several flavors), and GoNaturally hard candy.

    Nestperts: Andrea Donsky, co-creator of NaturallySavvy.com and coauthor of Unjunk Your Junk Food: Healthy Alternatives to Conventional Snacks, and Tamara Duker Freuman, RD, New York-based dietician.