Snacking is an all-American pastime. 90 percent of Americans report snacking one or more times per day, according to a review published in April 2023 in Nutrients. In responses to the 2020 Food and Health Survey, 26 percent of people said they snack several times a day.

Unfortunately, market research has shown that after fruit, the most common snacks are crackers, potato chips, ice cream, candy, popcorn, soft drinks, cookies and cakes. These type of ultra-processed packaged snacks often contain added sugars, refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and excess calories, all at the expense of a healthy diet.

Even packaged foods with a healthy reputation often contain far more calories, sugar and fat than imagined. Take granola bars for example; According to data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a 1.5-ounce granola bar can cost you 180 calories and contains 7 grams of fat, 2.6 grams of saturated fat, and more than 12 grams of sugar — not exactly the healthy snack you’d imagine.

So, are snacks good or bad for you? The answer may not be so cut and dried. Simply defined, snacks are a small amount of food eaten between the main meals of the day. But the food that makes up that snack could be anything from an apple to a cookie, and the nutritional benefits (or lack thereof) vary accordingly. Snacks are often viewed as unhealthy and a poor choice for anyone hoping to lose weight, however, registered dietitians point out that snacks can be an opportunity to add valuable vitamins, minerals and fiber to your diet while helping to avoid hunger between meals. – Which means you’ll likely eat less in your next session.

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