Everyone craves junk food. Sometimes you go all in and eat a pint of ice cream, even when you know you shouldn't. However, there are snacks that are less unhealthy than most options out there; you just have to know which to choose. So next time you're hankering for munchies, grab one of these not-all-bad snacks. Heck, maybe even consider turning your junk food into a proper meal.
The 20 Least Unhealthy Junk Foods
Tortilla chips tend to have less fat and calories per ounce than potato chips. That includes Doritos, which have 140 calories and 8 grams of fat per serving. So next time you need a bag of salty, crunchy snacks, opt for the tortilla chips. (If you're feeling ambitious, tortilla chips and other snacks can be made at home.)
A high-protein snack will help you feel full for a long time compared to foods full of simple carbohydrates. Beef jerky is made by trimming as much fat from the meat as possible, seasoning it, then drying it. It's about as packed full of protein as you can get. If sodium is a concern for you, stick to the recommended serving. (Looking for variety? Consider some of these 11 jerky treats.)
When you're staring at the vending machine in the break room at 3 p.m. on a Tuesday, you can do a lot worse than to choose Pretzel M&M's. Pretzels are much lower in fat and calories than chocolate, making the entire bag only 150 calories. That salty crunch is always satisfying. Regular milk chocolate M&M's check in at 240 calories.
While fruit popsicles have sugar, they generally have no fat. They also come prepackaged in single servings, so you're less likely to eat more than the recommended amount. Popsicle brand ice pops have only 40 calories apiece and come in many flavors.
A 4-piece chicken nugget order from Wendy's is only 180 calories with 10 grams of protein and may satisfy just as well as a higher calorie chicken sandwich. Stick to non-creamy dipping sauces, like barbecue or sweet and sour, which add only 45 calories.
When that chocolate craving hits, reach for dark chocolate. It's got less sugar than milk chocolate, and it's high in iron and fiber. If you treat yourself to a fancy, high quality dark chocolate bar, you'll be more inclined to savor it slowly instead of eating it in one sitting.
Popcorn is a whole grain, and it's bulky so you'll feel like you're eating more than you really are. Buy popcorn kernels in bulk and pop it yourself on the stove. You'll control how much butter or oil goes in it, plus you can experiment with your favorite seasonings. Chili powder, Parmesan cheese, and cinnamon sugar all make excellent toppings.
Yes, pork rinds are deep fried, but compared to potato chips, they're practically health food, depending on your dietary needs. There's little to no carbohydrates in them, and they're full of protein.
Crunchy pretzels are well-known for being a low-fat salty snack. There are many flavored versions to choose from now, like honey-mustard or spicy buffalo wing, which run about 140 calories per serving, depending on the variety.
If you're on the go and need a quick drive-thru meal, it's hard to beat McDonald's Egg McMuffin, especially now that it's available all day. The egg is freshly cooked, the Canadian bacon slice is lean, and the muffin is always toasty. It's 300 calories, but it's packed with 18 grams of protein.
Sorbet is always a good option when it comes to frozen treats. Dove makes a raspberry sorbet bar covered in dark chocolate that has only 150 calories. It never hurts to have a box in the freezer when a dessert craving hits.
Ideal for entertaining, angel food cake is an impressive dessert. There also happens to be no fat in it, since it's made primarily with whipped egg whites. Top a slice with a sauce made from fresh berries and you won't even miss that 3-layer cake with ice cream.
A crunchy beef taco from Taco Bell has 170 calories and is a substantial snack. Lower the calorie count even more by making it "fresco style." That will remove the cheese and add fresh pico de gallo, bringing the calories down to 140 and the fat to 7 grams from 9 grams. What’s more, there are many satisfying and healthy ways to fill tacos.
It's never a bad idea to keep some hard candy like Lifesavers around. Since you suck on them, at least for a little while, they last longer, and you tend to eat less than candy you chew immediately and swallow. There are only 45 calories in four candies, which can last a long time.
If there's an option to choose sweet potato in place of regular white potato, always go for it, especially in french fries. You'll likely get just as many carbs and calories, but sweet potatoes have more fiber and a massive amount of vitamin A.
If you must have a cookie, an oatmeal cookie is the best bet for healthfulness. Whole grain oats contain lots of fiber and minerals like calcium and iron. When dried fruit or nuts are added, as they often are, the vitamin, fiber, and protein counts go up even more.
Snacking on an ounce or two of cheese will give you a boost of calcium and protein. A little bit of a hard, aged cheese like sharp cheddar or Parmesan will go a long way. Pair cheese with fruit or nuts for extra vitamins.
If you're craving something sweet, Fig Newtons are a classic treat. There are 110 calories in two cookies, and because they're full of soft fruit, two cookies are quite filling. They're also made with whole grain flour, which is always a plus.
Instead of donuts for breakfast, reach for zucchini bread. The squash is a good source of vitamins C and B-6, as well as potassium. Look for recipes that use buttermilk or yogurt for moisture instead of oil to keep the amount of fat under control.
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