Snacks high in refined carbohydrates and simple sugars can lead to energy crashes and weight gain. Whole foods can balance energy levels and prevent overeating.

The American Heart Association advises people to limit foods high in refined carbohydrates and simple sugars.

Eating snacks such as cookies, chocolate bars, or potato chips initially gives someone an energy boost but can lead to a crash and fatigue. Longer-term, eating this way could lead to weight gain or an increased risk of diabetes.

Choosing healthy whole foods as snacks instead of refined carbohydrates can have positive health benefits and help maintain energy throughout the day.

Some people may not need a snack in between meals, but for those who do, it’s important to make nutritious choices.

This article looks at eight healthy snacks, their health benefits, and how they regulate energy.

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The following foods are healthy alternatives to common snack foods high in refined carbohydrates and simple sugars.

Anyone wishing to lose weight should still be careful to factor all foods, even healthy foods, into their daily calorie requirement, in order to maintain a calorie deficit.

1. Nuts

Plain, unsalted, and unflavored nuts are a healthy snack.

According to an older 2011 review, nuts may reduce inflammation and inhibit processes that lead to heart disease. The authors suggest that people can eat nuts as a healthy, nutritious snack without gaining weight.

The same review found that roasted nuts had the same amount of polyphenols as raw nuts, and walnuts had particularly high levels.

Nuts are a nutritious addition to a smoothie or salad for a quick snack or small meal.

Their protein and fiber content can help people feel full and maintain their energy levels.

2. Kale chips

Kale chips are a fiber-rich snack that can help to maintain someone’s energy levels.

A cup of kale provides the recommended daily amount (RDA) of vitamin K for females and 81% of the RDA for males. Kale is also a source of:

  • vitamins A, C, and folate
  • minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium
  • fiber
  • antioxidants such as lutein, lycopene, and carotenoids

A 2013 review concluded people should consider kale as a functional food since it may help prevent chronic degenerative diseases.

3. Greek yogurt and berries

Greek yogurt with berries, such as blueberries or raspberries, makes a nutritious snack.

Plain, unsweetened yogurt is a protein-rich and low-calorie option.

Greek yogurt has additional health benefits because of the beneficial bacteria that it contains.

Berries contain antioxidants and also may help to improve health.

A 2015 review indicates that berries can improve glycemic response and reduce inflammation.

According to the review, eating berries longer term may support cardiovascular health and reduce metabolic syndrome.

A diet rich in berries may also support healthy aging and gut health.

4. Hummus with carrot or celery sticks

According to a 2016 review, hummus paired with vegetables is a nutritious way for people to obtain their recommended legumes servings.

The review indicated that consumers of chickpeas or hummus have higher intakes of the following beneficial nutrients:

  • dietary fiber
  • polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin C
  • folate
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • iron

Hummus is also a source of protein and makes a valuable addition to a plant-based diet.

Eating sufficient protein helps people to maintain balanced energy levels.

Try eating hummus with raw carrot or celery sticks for added nutrients.

5. Boiled eggs

Eggs are rich in protein and low in carbohydrates.

Studies suggest eggs provide several essential nutrients, which may be deficient in many people consuming a Western diet. These nutrients include:

  • zinc
  • selenium
  • retinol (vitamin A)
  • tocopherols (vitamin E)

Health experts previously thought eggs increased cholesterol and cardiovascular risk.

However, more recent research has determined that dietary cholesterol in general and in eggs, in particular, have limited effects on blood cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease.

6. Seaweed

Studies indicate that, gram for gram, seaweed contains comparable protein and amino acids to beef, although people usually eat smaller portions of seaweed.

Seaweeds are also a source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

A 2019 review indicated that the polysaccharides in seaweed contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant components. The study suggested seaweed could potentially help protect against cancer and viral infection.

There are different types of edible seaweeds, including wakame, nori, and dulse.

People can purchase seaweed snacks from grocery stores, or add seaweed to a smoothie or salad.

A nori roll is a healthy snack idea. Fiber-rich, this snack can help to maintain energy levels. To make a nori roll, a person should:

  1. Place a sheet of nori seaweed on a cutting board shiny face down with the longest side facing them.
  2. Starting from the left edge, arrange cucumber slices in overlapping rows, leaving a small space to roll at the right edge.
  3. Add avocado slices, radishes, and sprouted seeds.
  4. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chili powder. A person can also drizzle tahini or cashew cheese over it.
  5. Roll the nori from the left edge, and as they reach the uncovered strip, wet it with water, so it sticks.
  6. Slice into halves and dip into tamari, if desired.

7. Fresh coconut

Fresh coconut is a healthy snack that someone can easily transport to eat after exercise or to avoid hunger pangs.

People can purchase ready chopped coconut from grocery stores or break up a whole coconut and chop the flesh themselves, saving the water to drink.

Coconut oil contains medium-chain triglycerides, which research suggests may be beneficial for reducing cholesterol, managing weight, and reducing cognitive decline.

Coconut water is a source of electrolytes that can replenish minerals after exercise.

8. Edamame beans

Edamame beans are young soybeans that farmers harvest while the pods are still green. Edamame beans are a rich source of:

  • protein
  • fiber
  • vitamins and minerals
  • isoflavones, which are compounds with estrogen-like activity

Research indicates that edamame beans may have the following health benefits:

  • help to increase bone density
  • reduce cholesterol levels
  • help to prevent cardiovascular disease and prostate cancer

Fiber and protein-rich edamame beans make good snacks to maintain energy levels.

People can purchase fresh or frozen edamame beans and mash them into a quick dip with olive oil, salt, and lemon juice. Grocery stores also sell roasted edamame beans.

Whole foods are a better choice than foods high in refined carbohydrates and simple sugars. This is essential to consider when choosing a snack to maintain energy levels.

Foods such as eggs, kale, and nuts have additional health benefits and make nutritious choices for a quick snack.

People should count snacks towards their daily intake of calories, especially if they wish to lose weight.