You know eating healthy is important. It can improve gut health, help you feel more energized, and reduce risks of everything from heart disease to Type 2 diabetes. Even if you’re trying to eat healthier, it’s natural to want to cheat every once in a while.
That’s okay. First, denying yourself a treat may make you eat more of it later. Additionally, some of the foods people may label as “bad” really aren’t. So many sweet treats aren’t harmful in moderation.
If you’re craving a sweet, savory, or salty snack or dessert, reach for one of these 10 junk foods that are good for you.
Cheese gets something of a bad rap because it can be difficult to digest. Though it can be high in fat and sodium, cheese has bone-strengthening calcium and muscle-building protein. String cheese is also convenient for on-the-go snackers. It fits easily in a backpack or lunchbox and is easy to eat while rushing from one errand to the next. Even the pickiest eaters love Sargento’s reduced-fat mozzarella cheese, and it is a healthier alternative to other cheesy junk food like mozzarella sticks. These sticks only have 45 calories and 2.5 grams of fat, and they taste positively indulgent. They also boast 10% of your daily recommended calcium intake and 5 grams of protein.
If you want something crunchy or are settling in for a night of Netflix, try popcorn. It’s one of a few healthy alternatives to greasy snack foods like high-fat, high-sodium potato chips. 365 by Whole Foods’ organic popcorn kernels only have 1.5 grams of fat while also possessing 4 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein, two things that help you feel fuller longer. People feel it’s better for the environment and their health, too, because the kernels come in one bag and are cooked on a stovetop rather than a microwave. Parents also mention that cooking popcorn has turned into a fun family activity, getting their kids involved with helping out in the kitchen.
People often use 1-800-Flowers to surprise family and friends, but there’s no shame in treating yourself. If you’re craving candy, consider ordering dark chocolate strawberries instead. Dark chocolate may reduce blood pressure, improve heart health, and reduce the risk of diabetes. Couple that with strawberries, which are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants that boost skin and immune health, and you’ve got yourself a treat for both your tastebuds and the rest of your body. 1-800-Flowers sells dark chocolate-covered strawberries by the dozen or half dozen, so you can choose how much sweetness to bring to the dessert table.
Nuts and trail mixes are a staple snack for those with busy days. Easy to stash in a bag, they’re ideal for commutes or a quick mid-day pick-me-up. Unfortunately, many trail mixes and nuts are full of sugar from dried fruits and sodium. Consider swapping out trail mix for a nut mix that will still give you a variety of flavors and textures. By themselves, nuts contain monounsaturated fat and omega-3 fatty acids that reduce the risk of heart disease when eaten in moderation. Emerald’s Individually wrapped 100-calorie bags make portion control a cinch. Customers love the variety (the pack includes almonds, cashews, and walnuts) and that they’re easy to grab-and-go.
Sometimes, life calls for a frozen treat. That said, if you’re trying to eat healthily, the novelty aisle may feel intimidating — ice cream is notoriously high in calories, added sugar, and fat. You don’t need to avoid it altogether, though. Opt for a Yasso Greek yogurt bar – it’s not only low-cal (100 calories per bar) and low-fat (2 grams), but it also contains 5 grams of protein and 8% of your daily calcium needs. The black raspberry chip pops are so creamy and crunchy that customers have a hard time believing they’re as nutritious as they are!
Greek yogurt pops are a sweet treat, but there are days you may just want real-deal ice cream. There’s no need to swear it off — there are a handful of ice cream brands that won’t give you a sugar crash. Skinny Cow has guilt-free vanilla sandwiches that don’t skimp on taste. The ice cream is whipped and soft (read: easy to sink your teeth into). The treats are big enough that you’ll feel like you’ve indulged but small enough that you won’t feel uncomfortably full. They only have 5 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fat, and 150 calories per serving. They also contain 8% of the recommended daily calcium intake and are individually wrapped, so portion control is easy.
If potato or tortilla chips are your go-to snack, consider swapping them for spinach and kale chips as a more nutritious alternative. The Better Chip’s spinach and kale chips contain seven grams of fat, and six of those grams are good-for-you monounsaturated fat. There’s also less sodium than your average potato chip (only 3% of the maximum recommended amount per day). These spinach and kale chips also boast 60% of your daily needs of Vitamin K, which is essential for blood and bone health. Reviewers say these chips pair perfectly with a little salsa or hummus.
You may have heard someone say, “Just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy” — that’s true. Still, Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough chunks are vegan, healthy, and unbelievably delicious. They only have 4 grams of fat, 120 calories, and no cholesterol. These chuncks do have 12 grams of added sugar, so be wary because too much sugar can increase the risk of tooth decay, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Still, if you stick to the two-tablespoon serving size, you can consider them a healthy swap for regular cookies (or an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream).
Chips call for dips, but some options are heavy on the fat and calories. Guacamole, which is made from heart-friendly avocados, is one of the luxurious, creamy dips that won’t bog you down with excess fat and oil. This fan-favorite dip isn’t hard to DIY, but if you don’t have time for that, reviewers say Homestyle is a perfect plan B. It’s full of flavor, has chunks of avocado, and the kick from the jalapeños adds a little extra spice. Good & Gather’s guac only has 50 calories per serving and five grams of total fat, so you can indulge without feeling like you have fallen off the wagon.
Brownies can conjure up warm and fuzzy childhood memories of baking in the kitchen on a snow day. However, if you’re trying to eat healthier, you’ve likely noticed that this treat contains a lot of empty calories, fat, and sugar. Portion control is the key to preventing an indulgence from derailing your healthy-eating goals. Fiber One makes that easy with individually wrapped 70-calorie brownies. They only have 3 grams of fat and 2 grams of sugar. What’s more, Fiber One’s chocolate fudge brownies contain 6 grams of fiber, which reviewers say helped clear their guts. Pro tip: Put it in the microwave for about 20 seconds for a dessert that tastes like it’s fresh out of the oven.
It’s natural to crave foods that aren’t exactly nutritious for you, such as ice cream or potato chips, especially when you’re trying to eat a more balanced diet. There’s no use in completely denying yourself a treat — it may actually cause you to binge and eat more of it later. However, there are healthy alternatives to junk foods that can help you satisfy your wants while fueling your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs. Low-fat ice cream, cheese, and nuts have health benefits, which earned them a spot on our list of 10 junk foods that are good for you. Look for food that is plant-based, lower in fat, calories, and cholesterol, and ensure they are high and fiber and protein which keeps you feeling fuller for longer. If you really want that cookie, don’t sweat. Remember: Most things are okay in moderation.
BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.
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