The 20 Least Unhealthy Junk Foods

Selection of Several Different Kinds of American Junk Food Snacks with Three Different Sodas


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Selection of Several Different Kinds of American Junk Food Snacks with Three Different Sodas

As Good as It Gets

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 and even fast-food meals that are less unhealthy than most options out there; you just have to know which to choose. Next time you're hankering for munchies, grab one of these not-so-junky foods. Heck, you might even try your hand at making healthier snacks at home. 

Related: 21 Frozen Foods You Should Never Put in Your Cart

Opened Bag of Doritos with a Blue Background with a Few Pieces Scattered
hamza ishqaidif/istockphoto

Tortilla Chips

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 salty, crunchy snack, opt for the tortilla chips. (If you're feeling ambitious, tortilla chips and other snacks can be made at home.)

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Bowl of Salsa with Tortilla Chips on a Wooden Table


Chips and salsa have become ubiquitous since the 1980s. Salsa is full of vegetables, making it a healthier dip than its creamy counterparts. Plus, you'll get a huge boost of lycopene, an antioxidant, from the tomatoes.

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Closeup of Several Pieces of Beef Jerky

Beef Jerky

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.

M&M's Pretzel Sharing Size Chocolate Candies, 8oz

Pretzel M&M's

When you're staring at the break room vending machine at 3 p.m. on a Tuesday, you can do a lot worse than to choose Pretzel M&M's. That salty crunch is always satisfying, and pretzels are much lower in fat and calories than chocolate, making the entire bag only 150 calories. Regular milk chocolate M&M's check in at 240 calories.

Red, Orange, and Pink Popsicles Slightly Melting on a White Marble Slab
Charise Wilson Photography/istockphoto


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. Or you can save money and make your own.

Relive Your Childhood By Making These 13 Classic Ice Cream Truck Treats

Closeup of Wendy's 6-Piece Chicken Nuggets in an Orange Bowl
Bella V./Yelp

Wendy's Chicken Nuggets

A four-piece Wendy's chicken nugget order is only 170 calories with nine 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 to 50 calories.

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Closeup of Dark Chocolate Chunks

Dark Chocolate

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. It also contains polyphenols, catechins, and flavanols, which all act as antioxidants. If you treat yourself to a fancy, high quality dark chocolate bar — with at least 65% cacao — you'll be more inclined to savor it slowly instead of eating it in one sitting.

Related: We Tried 13 Kinds of Chocolate — and These Are the Best

Glass Bowl of Popcorn with a Few Scattered Popcorn Pieces on a Blue Napkin


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.

Closeup of Ceramic Bowl of Pork Rinds

Pork Rinds

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.

Mini Pretzels in a White Bowl on a Bright Blue Wooden Table


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.

McDonald's Egg McMuffin on Wrapper with a Blurred Background
Joe S./Yelp

McDonald's Egg McMuffin

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 17 grams of protein.

DoveBar Raspberry Sorbet
Closeup of Angel Food Cake with Strawberry Sauce Topping and Whipped Cream on a White Plate with a Fork

Angel Food Cake

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 three-layer cake with ice cream.

Closeup of Three Taco Bell Crunchy Tacos
Taco Bell/Yelp

Taco Bell Crunchy Taco

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 down to 7 grams from 9 grams. Not near a Taco Bell? There are plenty of other places to grab a taco across the country.  

Related: Live Más: 24 Spicy Secrets Behind Taco Bell's Success

Life Savers Hard Candy 5 Flavors, 50-Ounce Party Size Bag

Life Savers

It's never a bad idea to keep some hard candy like Life Savers 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 60 calories in four candies, which can last a long time, and they are available virtually everywhere, including many specialty shops.

Sweet Potato Fries with Cajun Spices with Yogurt and Dill Sauce on the Side
Stack of Five Oatmeal Cookies
Jean Pierre Pinochet/istockphoto

Oatmeal Cookies

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.

Top View of Various Types of Cheese in a Circle


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.

Newtons Fig Fruit Chewy Cookies, 10oz

Fig Newtons

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.

Knife Cutting Through Loaf of Zucchini Bread on Bamboo Cutting Board with Zucchini Slices
sean nalaboff/istockphoto

Zucchini Bread

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.

Related: 50 Delicious Diabetic Dessert Recipes Everyone Will Love