Choosing healthy snacks at convenience stores

You can make healthy choices when choosing snacks on the go.

Have you ever stopped at a convenience store to pick up a snack? Did you try to find something healthy or did you just grab a package that was handy? You can find many crunchy, salty, sweet snacks that are high in fat, sodium and sugar at convenience stores. You can also find satisfying snacks that are lower in these less desirable nutrients. I compared several foods on a recent visit to a convenience store to see if that was true. Here is what I found:

Food

Serving size

Calories

Fat grams

Sodium

Grams of sugar

Nutrients

Pretzels

1 ounce (28 grams)

108

1

486 milligrams

0

3 grams protein

Popcorn, oil popped, salted

2 cups (22 grams)

110

6 (2 grams saturated)

194 milligrams

0

2 grams fiber,

2 grams protein

Potato chips, baked

1 ounce (28 grams)

120

2

135 milligrams

2

2 grams fiber,

2 grams protein

Almonds (plain, unsalted)

1 ounce (1/4 cup; 28 grams)

160

14 (1 gram saturated)

0

1

3 grams fiber,

6 grams protein

Granola bar

1 bar (36 grams)

150

7 (2.5 grams saturated)

120 milligrams

8

6 grams fiber,

3 grams protein

Whole grain crackers

~1 ounce (31 grams)

140

5 (1 gram saturated)

230 milligrams

4

3 grams fiber,

2 grams protein

Low-fat cheddar stick

~1 ounce (21 grams)

60

4.5 (3 grams saturated)

135 milligrams

1

5 grams protein

Potato chips

1 ounce (28 grams)

152

10 (3 grams saturated)

168 milligrams

0

1 grams fiber,

2 grams protein

Chocolate candy bar

1 bar (1 ounce; 28 grams)

145

9 (5 grams saturated)

23 milligrams

15

1 grams fiber

2 grams protein

All of the information I listed (and more) can be found on the Nutrition Facts Label for each food. When comparing packages of snack foods, be sure to pay attention to the serving size, listed near the top of the label, so that you’re comparing equivalent amounts. For example, the two ounce bag of baked potato chips that I found contained two servings. If I had eaten the whole bag I would have to double the calories, fat grams, milligrams of sodium, etc. that you see on the chart to get an accurate count.

I included potato chips and a chocolate candy bar for comparison. These two snacks tend to be higher in fat and calories and don’t contain many beneficial nutrients. With this set of snacks, almonds might be a good choice if my goal is to get some nutrition from the food. Although they contain 14 grams of fat, the fat in almonds is “heart-healthy.”

The pretzels were lower in calories than almonds, but didn’t really provide any fiber and they were much higher in sodium. In fact, the pretzels contained three times the sodium as potato chips. One serving of the almonds had no sodium.

Each of these foods, and many other snack foods, has varying amounts of fat per serving. Some also contain saturated fat. Saturated fat has been linked to heart disease, so try to keep your consumption of saturated fat to a minimum.

I included low-fat cheese on the list too. Other healthy snack options include fruit (I found fruit cups at my convenience store), low-fat milk, 100 percent fruit juice and dried fruit. Remember, you can find healthier snack options at convenience stores, but it might take some searching and label reading. Just keep in mind that if you’re already following a healthy diet high in vitamins, minerals and fiber and low in fat and calories, an occasional snack from the list above will probably be ok!

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