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100 Healthy Study Snacks You Should Reach For Instead
November 16th, 2010
Studying can be hard work, and you’ll need some serious brain fuel to get you through acing that exam and breezing through getting your degree. Yet the foods many students reach for when they’re deep in a study session are often not only unhealthy, but not exactly ideal choices for energy, concentration and boosting your brainpower. Instead of going for salty, sweet or fatty snacks — however satisfying they may be — try these healthy alternatives instead. Your grades, your brain and your waistline will thank you.
Instead of Potato Chips
Those crispy taters are delicious, but these snacks are healthier and pack more of a nutritional punch. Plus, they’ll still give you that crunch you’re looking for.
- Popcorn. As long as you don’t go for the super buttery version, popcorn can be a delicious and incredibly satisfying alternative to chips.
- Kale Chips. They might not sound appealing, but give these crisps a try. They not only taste good, but are loaded with nutrients.
- Veggies. Baby carrots, sugar snap peas, celery and bell peppers offer up a crisp, crunchy snack that’s full of the stuff your body needs.
- Pita Chips. You can make or buy whole grain pita chips that are healthier than potato chips, but still pretty delicious.
- Salted Cucumber Slices. Cucumbers are an excellent choice for giving you that crunch you crave. Add a little salt (maybe some spice) and you get a great study snack.
- Ants on a Log. Bring back your childhood with this snack that offers up a serious crunch and some protein to power your brain.
- Whole Wheat Pretzels. Whether you go for the soft version or the crunchy, these snacks are better for you than chips, in moderation of course.
- Almonds. Roasted almonds are an excellent source of protein and fiber, making them perfect for study snacking.
- Cashews. Go for the unsalted version and you can enjoy all the healthful benefits of this nut without any of the drawbacks.
- Trail Mix. If you don’t want to eat plain nuts, mix them up with dried fruits and pretzels to make your own healthy trail mix.
- Whole Grain Crackers. Skip those weak crackers and go for the whole grain, fibrous ones instead. They’ll do a better job filling you up and they’re better for you to boot.
- Sunflower Seeds. If you want to mindlessly chew on something while you study, these small seeds are a great choice.
- Peanuts. Grab a handful of peanuts while you’re studying to get a quick energy boost from this protein-loaded nut.
- Fruit Chips. There’s more than one way to eat fruit; in this chip form they may make you not even miss the potato kind.
- Veggie Chips. If you just really need to eat some kind of chip, choose a healthier alternative. Veggie chips have more nutrients and can be even better for you if they’re baked.
- Pickles. Pickles are loaded with sodium, it’s true, but if you only have a couple they’re a healthier, lower calorie snack than chips by far.
Instead of Unhealthy Dips and Spreads
Just because you’re not loading stuff up with heaps of Cheese Whiz and ranch dressing doesn’t mean you have to go without. Try these healthier options instead.
- Salsa. Whether you buy it at the store or make up your own, this sassy sauce offers up vitamins without being short on taste.
- Hummus. Made with chickpeas, this Middle Eastern treat is the perfect accompaniment to some pita chips or veggies.
- Guacamole. Avocados do have a lot of fat, but it’s the good kind. Whip up some guac to get your study party started.
- Bean Dip. Beans are a rich source of protein, and can be fun to eat in dip form.
- Low-Cal Spinach Dip. Spinach dip isn’t known for being particularly healthy, but this recipe isn’t too bad. Plus, it’s full of nutrient-rich spinach.
- Mustard. Dip pretzels and other snacks in this vinegary and salty condiment for a tasty treat.
- Greek Yogurt. Never thought of using yogurt as a dip? Well it’s never too late to start. Put it on cucumber for a cool late-night treat.
- Fruit Salsa. Salsa doesn’t have to be spicy and savory. Try out a fruit salsa for a sweeter alternative.
- Low Fat Dressing. If you just can’t go without dressing, choose a low-fat or low-cal version of your favorite.
- Neufatel Cheese. Instead of loading up your bagel with cream cheese, choose this healthier, but just as tasty, alternative instead.
Instead of Pre-Packaged, Processed Snacks
These snacks may be convenient, but they’re often packed with sodium, sugar and a wide range of chemicals. Opt for something a little more natural instead.
- Cheese. Whether you go for the string cheese or the simple cheese wedges, low-fat cheese, especially the natural kind, is a great snack offering up a host of vitamins and some great protein.
- Broccoli. Dipped in a tasty sauce, this green veggie packs a powerful nutritional punch.
- Cantaloupe. This melon not only tastes great, but is a much healthier alternative to those fruit snacks.
- Olives. Need something salty? Try olives instead of chips or crackers.
- Tomato Slices and Olive Oil. Tomatoes are packed with lycopene and a wealth of other vitamins -and can be pretty darn satisfying with a little olive oil on top.
- Grapefruit. This pucker-inducing fruit may not be the easiest to eat, but it’s a great super food to enjoy any time of the day.
- Sugar Snap Peas. These sweet peas are easy to store and provide a delicious crunch, not to mention some serious nutrition to fuel your brain.
- Edamame. These soybeans are a great source of protein, low in calories and just plain tasty– a perfect trio.
- Cottage Cheese and Pineapple. Get the benefits of protein-filled cheese with the zing of a citrusy fruit in this snack.
- Kiwis. Sliced in half and taken in with a spoon, these fun green fruits are not only, healthy but fun to eat too.
- Melon Balls. Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew and other melons are sweet and delicious and can be perfect snack foods in this simple spherical form.
Instead of Candy
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, there are healthier places to turn than an economy sized bag of gummy bears. Beat the sweet with these healthy choices.
- Fruit Salad. A mix of fruits like strawberries, raspberries, grapes, bananas and other great healthy snacks can be a great way to meet the needs of your sweet tooth without going overboard on sugar and calories.
- Dark Chocolate. Provided you have just a small amount, dark chocolate has healthy antioxidants that make it better for you than its more sugary cousin, milk chocolate.
- Granola Bar. With tasty morsels of fruits inside, these treats are salty and sweet in one.
- Dried Apricots. Dried fruits like apricots are a great way to feel like you’re eating candy while still getting the vitamins from fruits.
- Strawberries. They may not always be in season, but when they are these small fruits are the perfect alternatives to unhealthy candies.
- Orange Slices. Next time you’re craving fruity candy, pick up an orange instead. It’s full of vitamin C which can help ensure you stay healthy enough to make it through your semester.
- Fresh Raspberries. They’re easy to eat, tasty and pretty good for you too, so don’t pass up these awesome berries.
- Raisins. Dried fruits like raisins are perfect to keep on hand in your dorm room, as they’ll stay fresh for months and are a great, easy snack.
- Blueberries. Blueberries aren’t called a super food for nothing. They’re full of antioxidants and vitamins that will make your body happy.
- Cherries. Cherries are easy to eat, delicious and they taste like a whole host of candies so you won’t even miss those sugary treats.
- Pomegranates. Think of pomegranates as candy that grows on trees, as their tiny, gem-like seeds provide the perfect healthy and sweet snack.
- Fruit Leather. Instead of a fruit roll-up, opt for this healthier flattened fruit.
Instead of Soda
You’ve got to wash all those tasty study snacks down with something, right? Instead of a sugary soda, try these options for healthier refreshment.
- Water. Water has no calories, and it provides the hydration your body needs to give you better concentration and memory. What drink could be better than that?
- Cranberry Juice. Go for real cranberry juice, not cocktail, for a full-on antioxidant beverage.
- Skim Milk. Unless you’re lactose intolerant, milk can provide your body with protein, calcium and other vitamins it needs.
- Orange Juice. A glass of OJ is a great way to boost your vitamin C levels and stave off illness.
- Soy Milk. If you can’t drink milk, soy milk is a great, healthy alternative.
- Tea. Need to stay awake? Try out some tea. Green and black varieties are said to be extremely beneficial to your health.
- Coffee. Coffee, when had in moderation, is a better way to get a caffeine fix than soda.
Instead of Ice Cream
These healthy alternatives to ice cream will see you through your studies without all the fat and calories.
- Fat Free Yogurt. Yogurt comes in a wide variety of flavors, even chocolate and cheesecake, and is a much healthier alternative to ice cream.
- Fruit Smoothie. Blend up fruit, milk and yogurt to make one of these tasty treats.
- Frozen Grapes. Frozen grapes will give you the chill you’re looking for with very few calories and no fat.
- Fruit Popsicles. If you need a sweet frozen treat, one of your best bets is a whole fruit frozen popsicle.
- Parfait. Top yogurt with fresh berries and some granola and you’ve got yourself a healthy alternative to an ice cream sundae.
- Frozen Banana with Nuts. Dip a banana in honey, roll it in nuts and stick it in the freezer for an amazing treat that’s good for you too.
- Applesauce. Applesauce, especially the unsweetened kind, is pretty good for you, containing plenty of vitamin C, fiber, and potassium.
- Frozen Yogurt. If you are looking for something healthier that’s as close to ice cream as possible, seek out frozen yogurt. While it’s not perfectly healthy, it’s definitely better for you than ice cream.
- Chocolate Mousse. Chocolate mousse does contain a fair amount of sugar, but it’s also considerably lower in calories and fat than ice cream.
Instead of Cookies and Cakes
Replace those Oreos and Chips Ahoy with these delicious and health-friendly alternatives.
- Rice Cakes with Peanut Butter. Rice cakes alone might be a bit bland, but dress them up with a nut butter to make them super delicious.
- Graham Crackers. A few graham crackers are a much better choice than most cookies, especially if you eat the whole grain kind.
- Bran Muffin. If you need a quick pick-me-up, a bran muffin is the perfect choice. It will keep you full and give you the energy to keep studying.
- Fig Newtons. If you simply must have a cookie, choose one like Fig Newtons. While these cookies contain some not-so-good things, they also have real fruit that offers more vitamins than their chocolate chip counterparts.
- Apples and Almond Butter. Apples on their own are good for you, but paired with a great protein source like almond butter, they’re even better. Plus, both the apple and the almond butter will help you wake up and stay alert to study.
- Fruit Cup. Look for fruit cups that are in water, not syrup, for a tasty, healthy and easy treat.
- Banana Bread. If baked goods are what you crave while studying, consider picking up some banana bread instead of cookies.
- Carrot Bars. Made with real shredded carrots, these bars can be a great source of vitamins and fiber.
- Cereal Bar. Cereal bars made with whole grain cereals are your best healthy bet if you’re looking for a convenient snack.
- Sugar Free Jello. Does it contain a wealth of vitamins and minerals? Nope. But it does have no sugar and few calories, and that’s more than you can say for cookies or cakes.
- Kashi Cookies. If you simply must have a cookie, go for one that attempts to be a little healthier. The Kashi brand contains flaxseed and other whole grains to give this junk food a boost.
Instead of Frozen Foods
While there are some healthy frozen foods out there, the kinds you likely have in your freezer (frozen pizzas, chicken nuggets) aren’t the best for you. Try these snacks instead.
- English Muffin Pizzas. Don’t heat up a whole frozen pizza if you’re hungry. Make a smaller, healthier English muffin version instead.
- Pita Pizza. Don’t have English muffins? Whole grain pitas work just as well for constructing a more nutritious pizza in minutes.
- Tuna. Put some tuna on top of whole grain crackers to get loads of protein.
- Hard Boiled Egg. A hard-boiled egg with salt and pepper is good for you, offering protein you need to keep going.
- Side Salad. Instead of snacking on unhealthy foods, why not whip up a salad? It’s easy and can be tasty too.
- Seaweed Salad. Pick up some seaweed salad at the store for a study snack. It might be a funny color, but it’s full of great nutrients. Just watch out for the sodium– it contains a good amount.
- Oatmeal. Instant oatmeal is easy to make, fills you up and keeps you healthy.
- Lettuce Wraps. Use lettuce to wrap up other veggies, low-fat meats and other healthy treats.
- Corn on the Cob. Eat it fresh if it’s in season or find it frozen if it’s not.
- Whole Grain Toast. Toast, topped with a whole fruit jam or peanut butter, can be a great snack that only takes minutes to make.
Instead of Fast Food
Seeking out a mini-meal to keep you going strong through your studies? Well, skip the fast food fare and make these healthier options at home.
- Whole Grain Cereal. Pair a healthy cereal with some skim milk for a meal that will fill you up without filling you out.
- Whole Wheat Bagel. A bagel can be an easy way to get in some whole grains– just make sure you don’t go overboard with toppings.
- Turkey Wrap. Turkey is one of the healthiest lunch meats out there, so combining it with a whole wheat tortilla, veggies and some mustard is an excellent way to snack smart.
- Baked Potato. A baked potato topped with salsa will meet all your study snacking needs. Eat the skin for an extra vitamin-laden boost.
- Black Beans and Salsa. This snack is simple to make at home. Rinse off a can of black beans, heat them and top with salsa and guac for a healthy treat.
- Sweet Potato Fries. When baked, you can get your fries fix with far better health with sweet potato fries.
- Whole Wheat Pasta. A small bowl of whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce makes for a balanced and healthy snack or meal.
- Veggie Pocket. Load up a pita with all kinds of veggies, from cucumbers to sprouts, top with mustard or a vinaigrette, and you’ve got yourself a killer snack.
- Low-Fat Quesadilla. Low-fat cheese and veggies help make this snack one that’s healthy and craveable.
- Low Sodium Soup. Heat up a small bowl of soup to get some veggies, protein and other healthy stuff to keep you going.
- Soft Taco. Using whole grain tortillas, turkey instead of beef and topping with extra veggies makes this snack a winner in the health department.
- Multigrain Waffle. Pop a whole grain waffle into the toaster, top it with fruit and you’ve got an enviable study snack on your hands.
- Sandwich on Whole Wheat. Instead of getting a burger, make yourself a healthy, old-fashioned sandwich instead.
- Omelet. If you’ve got your own place, practice your cooking skills by making a healthy omelet for a snack.