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selection of healthy snacks

Healthier snack swaps to improve your diet

20 Apr 2021 • 7 min read

Snacking can get the better of us all occasionally. Often the snacks we reach for can be high in sugar, salt and saturated fat.

But making changes to your diet might not be as difficult as you think. In fact, making just a few adjustments to your diet can be the healthiest and most achievable way to lose weight.1

This article will provide you with ten snack swap ideas that could see small changes make a big difference.

What to consider when choosing your snacks

Trying to eat healthily can sometimes but overwhelming, but it really shouldn’t be. There are lots of tasty, healthy snacks out there that can fight off the cravings for biscuits and sweets.

Firstly, it’s not only important to think about what snacks you are eating, but how much you are eating and when you eat them. Try not to allow yourself or your children to snack too much throughout the day as you’ll never know when you’re truly hungry.2

Easier said than done, we know. But here are three things to consider next time you reach for the crisps, chocolate or sugary sweets.

  1. Look at the nutritional value

Nutrition is the process of obtaining the food we need to allow our body grow and be healthy.

We’re all guilty of reaching for unhealthy snacks, but if they’re not in the house it’s unlikely you’ll eat them. When you do your weekly or monthly shop, try to consider what you are buying and what nutritional value it has.

For example, if you have a sweet tooth – think about swapping out the chocolate from some fruit and plain yogurt. If you prefer savoury, then unsalted nuts are a great addition.3

  1. Consider the calories

Calories are a measure of energy in food and drink.4 The amount of energy you require will depend on5:

  • Age – Growing children and teenagers may need more energy
  • Lifestyle – How active you are
  • Height and weight – These can affect how quickly you use energy

According to the NHS, the recommended daily calorie intake is 2,000 calories a day for women and 2,500 for men.6 However, it could be worth researching this based on your own age, metabolism and physical activity to get a fair calculation.

Calorie counting can be a laborious task, but if you are looking to lose or maintain a healthy weight, it’s an ideal way to ensure you don’t exceed your daily allowance.

  1. May benefit your long-term health

In accordance with the NHS, eating five portions of fruit and vegetables as part of healthy, balanced diet can reduce the risk of certain illnesses including heart disease and stroke.7

Evidence shows that eating five portions of fruit and vegetables (80g per portion) has significant health benefits.

The ‘5 a day’ campaign is based on guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO), which says a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables a day may lower the risk of serious health problems.


  • Consider when and how much you are eating throughout the day
  • Try to look at the nutritional value of what you are eating
  • Look out for the calories in proportion to your daily allowance
  • Eating healthy foods, like food and veg can improve your long-term health

10 healthy snack ideas

The truth is, snacking is hard to avoid. But there is no reason that healthier snacks can’t be tasty too. There are some good healthy snacks out there, you just need to know where to find them.

Fortunately for you, we’ve come up with a list of ten healthy snack ideas, which includes healthy snacks for adults, healthy snacks for kids, healthy sweet snack and even healthy salty snacks – either way we’ve got you covered!

Our healthy snacks list is sure to help you put away the crisps and chocolate and enjoy some top-quality snacking, without the guilt. 

  1. Popcorn

OK sure, when you think of popcorn you usually think of the unhealthy snack you get at the cinema. But when you take away all the added salt and sugar that often gets mixed into popcorn, the grain is actually a great source of numerous vital nutrients, and it tastes good too!

Who doesn’t like popcorn? It’s a great, healthy snack for adults and kids. When you take away any unhealthy flavourings, plain popcorn is very low calorie and a great snacking option for those trying to control their weight.

A 30g serving contains about 122 calories, which is less than 1/10 of the UK recommended daily calorie intake for both men and women.

You can make it yourself at home by heating a tablespoon of rapeseed oil on the stove and adding three tablespoons of popcorn kernels and top with your flavourings of your choice.

We’ve also chosen a selection of flavours you can buy that might take your fancy.

Nutritional information

You can find the nutritional information for each of these products (per 100g) below:


  Sweet & Salty Sweet Salted Caramel
Energy 451kcal 465kcal 484kcal
Fat 18g 18.5g 22.9g
of which saturates 1.4g 2.1g 2g
Carbs 63.2g 65.7g 61.8g
of which sugars 27g 29.8g 31g
Fibre 10.8g 6.3g 5.9g
Protein 5.4g 5.8g 4.7g
Salt 1.47g 0.01g 1.35g

2. Nuts

Nuts are full of healthy unsaturated fats, fibre and protein. Obviously, you might want to consider allergies and young children, but nuts like walnuts, peanuts, and almonds are all tasty, and versatile too.

Here’s some ideas of what you can do with your nuts to make them more treat-like.

Activate your nuts!

Activated nuts are soaked in salt water then dehydrated before eating to reduce the phytates, which can make them easier to digest.

  • Pop 30g of nuts in a bowl and cover with filtered water mixed with 2 tsp sea salt. Make sure they’re well submerged as the ingredients will absorb water as they soak
  • Leave them for 12 hours, then strain away the water
  • Slowly roast at a very low heat (65°C/45°C fan) in an oven for 24 hours. They will last around 48 hours

Butter them up!

Delicious spread thick on a slice of wholemeal toast, a homemade nut butter is the perfect healthy breakfast to set you up for the day.

  • Take 420g of good-quality, fresh raw almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts or cashews. After activating the nuts (see above), blend them into a smooth paste.
  • Drizzle in a little raw honey or water and blitz again until they bind together. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Give them a roasting

Now, this process can be a little tricky as they needed to be watched carefully – otherwise you’ll overdo your nuts. It can be well worth it though as roasted nuts flavoured with oil and super spices are a great vegan friendly appetiser.

  • Preheat your oven to 175°C/155°C fan/gas mark 4 and spread 900g of nuts, such as brazil, cashew and pine, evenly on a baking tray covered with parchment paper.
  • Pour a small amount of flavoured oil of your choice over the nuts and, if you like, sprinkle on your favourite spices – we suggest ½ tsp of cinnamon, ½ tsp ground coriander, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, and 2 tbsp of organic brown sugar or agave – but you really can have fun here and experiment! Toss to coat evenly.
  • Pop in the oven and roast for 5 minutes, then remove and stir so that the outer nuts are moved towards the middle and vice versa – don’t skip this step.
  • Check the nuts again after 3 minutes – they should have darkened and start to smell ‘nuttier’. If not, return to the oven and then check again after 3 more minutes.
  • Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool. They’ll keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container, if you can let them that is!

3. Dark chocolate

You might be surprised to see chocolate on our list but, if you’re looking to indulge and want to keep it healthy, then dark chocolate could well be the one.

Not only does dark chocolate taste great, but good quality, cocoa-rich dark chocolate is notorious for its health benefits, which include:

  • Antioxidants which help memory
  • Rich in flavanols that may help lower blood pressure
  • Cocoa is thought boost your immune system

To help you decide, we’ve chosen a few of our favourite dark chocolate – so you can concentrate on enjoying a square or two (in moderation).

4. Fruit: fresh, dried or frozen

It may seem like an easy thing to suggest – much like telling the kids to “tidy your room” at the slightest sign of boredom.

But fruit doesn’t have to be boring. Of course, you can enjoy an apple, pear, banana or any fruit as good healthy snack options but their versatility opens a whole host of snacking ideas.

Fresh fruits that make good healthy snacks

There are numerous fruits with various benefits, we’ve picked out just three that could give you a bit of inspiration.

Grapes:  Are a great source of hydration and fibre. They contain antioxidants, which are plant chemicals that help stop harmful molecules, or free radicals that are thought to contribute to age-related illness such as heart disease.

Raspberries: Delicious on their own, mixed into yoghurt or as part of a dessert, these small, dark pink berries are also incredibly nutritious. They contain numerous vitamins and minerals which our bodies need to stay healthy8.

Strawberries: One of the most recognisable fruits on the planet, and one of the tastiest. Strawberries are packed full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients such as vitamin C, fibre, folate, iodine and manganese. They’re a great allrounder and one to consider when the munchies hit.

Dried fruit

it’s a good idea to choose dried fruit with no added sugars. These will likely give you the most health benefits without bringing too much unnecessary sugar into your diet.

All dried fruit typically provides essential micronutrients and fibre. However, some of the healthiest options include:

  • Figs
  • Prunes
  • Apricots
  • Raisins
  • Dates
  • Goji berries
  • Cranberries 

Frozen fruit

In terms of nutritional value, fresh and frozen fruit are considered to be like for like9.  That’s why frozen fruit is a great option to have on hand to knock together a quick shake or smoothie.

The NHS recommends that you should not exceed 150ml of fruit juice or smoothie a day.10 So, it’s a good idea to limit yourself. Ideally these should be kept for mealtimes rather than a between-meal snack in order to reduce the risk of tooth decay.11

Here are some ideas of how you can use your allowance to your advantage.

Purple smoothie bowl

Suitable for: Gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, vegan
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 0 minutes
Serves: 1


  • 150g frozen berries
  • 80g strawberries
  • 150ml coconut water
  • 4 tbsp chopped pineapple (fresh or canned in juice)


Step 1
Place the frozen berries, strawberries, coconut water and pineapple in a blender. Carefully break open the acai capsule and tip out the contents in the blender.

Step 2
Whizz up until smooth and quite thick.

Step 3
Pour straight into a bowl, decorate with your toppings how you wish

Nutritional information

Energy Total fat Saturates Protein Fibre Carbs Sugar Salt
404kcal 15g 8.7g 7.9g 13g 52g 48g 0.44g

Strawberries and cream smoothie

Suitable for: Gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, vegan
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 0 minutes
Serves: 1



Step 1
Blend and enjoy!

5. Pulses beans and lentils

Before you judge, they’re actually really underrated.

They are a cheap, low in fat, excellent sources of protein, fibre and B vitamins, among many other minerals.12 Not only that, but they’re environmentally friendly too.

Pulses are edible seeds that grow in a pod, which includes all peans, peas and lentils such as13:

An 80g portion, which is around three heaped tablespoons of cooked pulses counts towards one of our five a day, so it’s a great way to not only stop the hunger cravings but a good way of keeping on top of the nutrients too.

Here a couple of ideas of how you can introduce them into your diet.

Spicy roasted chickpeas

Suitable for: Gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, vegan
Prep time: 5 minutes  
Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves: 3-4



Step 1
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 4.

Step 2
Tip the chickpeas into a bowl and toss with the rapeseed oil, smoked paprika, cumin and coriander along with a big pinch of salt.

Step 3
Toss well until the chickpeas are well coated, then tip out onto a baking tray and bake for 35 mins, moving them round the tray halfway through so they dry out evenly and are crunchy.

Step 4
Leave to cool, then store in an airtight container.

Gooey black bean brownies

Suitable for: Gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, vegan
Prep time: 20 minutes  
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Makes: 12-16 brownies


  • 200g dark chocolate (around 60%+ cocoa content), broken up into squares
  • 140g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 can of black beans (400g), drained and rinsed
  • 3 eggs or egg alternative (flax, chia, etc)
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 80g walnuts, chopped roughly


Step 1
Preheat your oven to 180°C / 160°C fan / gas mark 4. Line a 24cm baking tin with parchment paper while you wait.

Step 2
Bring a pan of water to simmer, place a bowl on top (make sure the bottom doesn’t touch the water) and use to melt the chocolate and butter. Once melted, allow to cool a little on the side before stirring in the vanilla extract and cacao powder.

Step 3
Blend the beans and one egg (or substitute) until smooth in a hand blender then stir into the chocolate and butter mix.

Step 4
Whisk the other 2 eggs with the sugar until light and creamy then fold into the chocolate mix.

Step 5
Stir in the walnuts and cacao nibs then pour the whole mixture into the tin and bake for 25 minutes / just set.

Step 6
Leave it to cool completely, pop in the fridge for an hour, then finally cut into squares and enjoy!

6. Healthier vegan crisps

So, when it comes to snacks you can’t doubt that crisps are right up there. But did you know that you can find healthy and vegan options?

Instead of a bit of fried potato, these healthy crisps are usually made with wholegrains and vegetables, which give you some tasty nutrients in your favourite flavours. Plus, they’re perfect to go in your or the kids lunchbox as a nice healthy snack.

7. Granola bars

Granola bars are a popular favourite that you can either buy or make as one of the many homemade healthy snacks.

There’s a wealth of granola recipes to choose from that you can make at home and tuck in as a healthy snack as you please.

Alternatively, you buy something ready made that you can have on the go.

8. Rice cakes

You can’t underestimate the rice cake, whether you buy them plain to top with nut butters, fruit, chocolate, syrup, hummus…or whatever takes your fancy! Or buy pre-made versions like Itsu Dark Chocolate Rice Cakes.

9. Homemade tortilla chips

Chips and dips are a staple in snack world! Making them yourself at home is a really simple and healthy alternative. Simply take a tortilla, cut it into triangles, drizzle with olive oil and add a few spices like paprika or chipotle chilli to spice them up if you wish. Bake in the oven few a minutes until crispy.

And why not try making your own dip:

  • Tzatziki – yoghurt, cucumber, lemon juice and garlic. Use 0% fat Greek yoghurt for a low fat dip which contains protein and calcium.
  • Guacamole – made with mashed avocado, tomato, lime juice, onions, coriander and hot pepper, it contains healthy fats and vitamins C and E.
  • Ful - a chunky dip made from stewed broad beans with olive oil and fresh herbs. Some people add chopped chilli, onions or tomatoes. Full of flavour and contains vegan protein, vitamins and minerals, a portion of ful with wholemeal pita will satisfy you for hours without making you feel sluggish.
  • Salsa - ingredients vary, but a basic salsa made from tomatoes, onion, garlic, coriander and lemon juice is low-fat and contains nutrients like vitamin C and E.

10. Hummus

While we’re on the subject of dips. Hummus has got to be a staple in the snack world. It goes perfect with carrot, cucumber, pepper or pitta as a great healthy snack.  

Hummus has some great health benefits including:

  • A good source of plant-based protein
  • Full of fibre
  • Source of calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc

Last updated: 9 April 2021



Author: Donia HilalNutritionist

Joined Holland & Barrett: Jan 2018

Bsc in Nutrition, Registered Associate Nutritionist and Certification in Pre and Post Natal Nutrition

Donia started her career as a freelance nutritionist, later she joined Nestle as their Market Nutritionist to help support their healthier product range, before joining the team at Holland & Barrett in January 2018.

Donia has over 6 years experience as a Nutritionist and also works with clients on a one to one basis to support their goals which include weight loss, prenatal and postnatal nutrition and children’s health.

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