We all snack. But some snacks are better than others, especially if you’re managing type 2 diabetes or obesity.
An ideal snack gives you protein or fiber — or both — to help you feel full, says Gillian Culbertson, RD, certified diabetes educator at the Cleveland Clinic.
It should give you plenty of energy without too many calories. Aim for between 100 and 150 calories for women, and about 200 calories for men, with 15 to 20 grams of protein.
“Refrain from snack foods that are rich in sugars and refined carbohydrates, because of how they can boost blood sugar,” says David Grotto, RD, author of The Best Things You Can Eat. In fact, it’s a good idea to stay away from any type of sugars.
There are lots of good options. Start with these smart snacks.
Good Snack 1: Bean dip with veggies
You can easily turn canned beans in a can (such as kidney beans, navy beans, and chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans), into an inexpensive, protein-packed snack.
“The combination of the fiber and protein in beans has been shown to help keep blood sugar under control,” Grotto says. “And beans are an integral part of the DASH diet, which is the most effective approach to stopping [high blood pressure].”
Make it: Put 1/4 cup of low-sodium beans and 2 ounces of low-sodium chicken broth into a food processor to create a healthy and satisfying bean dip, Grotto says. Enjoy with 1/2 cup of raw, crunchy vegetables, like celery, carrots, or red peppers.
Nutrition info: The amounts listed above make one serving, with about 85 calories, 0.2 grams fat, and 11 grams carbohydrates
Good Snack 2: Oatmeal
Who says oatmeal is only for breakfast? Oats are very high in soluble fiber, which is a must-have for people with diabetes and heart disease, Grotto says.
A recent study found that foods high in fiber are linked to a lower chance of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and weight gain.
Oatmeal is high in carbs — the good kind.
“The soluble fiber in oats helps absorb cholesterol and blood glucose,” Grotto says. “Fiberless carbs in a food like pretzels, for example, can send blood glucose and insulin levels spiraling upwards.”
Don’t favor the sugar-added instant oatmeal varieties. Make your toppings things like a spoonful of nuts, not syrup or honey.
Nutrition info: For one cup of cooked oats, you’ll get about 88 calories, 1.9 grams fat, and 25 grams carbohydrates.
Good Snack 3: Nonfat Greek yogurt
It’s rich in protein, which helps you feel full longer. “Depending on your choice of Greek yogurt, a serving (one small container, which is typically 5.3 ounces) can contain between 12 and 24 grams of protein,” Culbertson says. Plus, low-fat dairy products are a staple in the DASH diet, making this a smart option if you have high blood pressure.
Nutrition info: For one small container (5.3 ounces), you’ll get about 80 calories, 0 grams fat, and 6 grams carbohydrates.
Good Snack 4: Low-fat string cheese stick and fresh fruit
Short on time? Then grab this easy go-to snack. It’s a good source of calcium and vitamin C, and it gives you 8 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber, Culbertson says.
Nutrition info: For one low-fat cheese stick and 1 cup of fresh fruit (like strawberries), you’ll get about 110 calories, 5 grams fat, and 12.7 grams carbohydrates.
Good Snack 5: Pistachios
Pistachios are one of Grotto’s favorites, because they’re low in carbohydrates and rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, which can lower bad cholesterol levels.