What foods help combat type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and heart disease, as well as potentially certain cancers, including breast cancer?
Many of which, according to Northwestern Medicine, rank among the most prevalent health concerns for women.
The answer might surprise you: low-carb snacks.
You love oven-warm bread. So do we. But there’s a reason everyone (and lots of scientific research) says low-carb snacks and diets are so popular.
When followed closely, the best low-carb snacks are all highly effective in reducing the intake of carbs, such as those found in grains, starchy vegetables and fruit.
A high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet with adequate protein is also successful at:
- Suppressing your appetite.
- Reducing blood sugar, insulin and cholesterol levels.
- Lowering blood pressure.
However, no benefit is as prevalent or as sought after as weight loss, the No. 1 reason why millions of Americans give the low-carb concept a futile try.
Why do many fail? Because coming up with tasty low-carb snacks can be incredibly challenging.
But help is on the way. Below are nine of the best low-carb snack ideas that you can happily nosh on between meals with confidence and no guilt.
Apples with Peanut Butter
The how-to here is almost self-explanatory: Slice up an apple, then spread two teaspoons’ worth of peanut butter across them.
The combo is high in protein and fiber plus highly effective at reducing hunger without interrupting a good night’s sleep. The snack tallies just 166 calories and about 22 grams of carbohydrates.
One thing to keep in mind: Buy natural peanut butter. The alternatives are loaded with sugar, artificial sweeteners and oils. None are healthy for you, and all are drastically higher in carbs and calories.
2. Baby Carrots
Some root vegetables are what they called “tubers.” These kinds of root vegetables act as storage sites for a plant’s natural sugar. Potatoes are perhaps the most common type of “tubers.”
Thankfully, carrots are not.
Carrots are the root of carrot plants, so they’re far lower in sugar and carbs than potatoes and other “tuber” vegetables. One medium raw carrot provides 4 grams of net carbs, and a cup provides 9 grams of net carbs.
Carrots are not as low in carbs as leafy green vegetables, but they’re superior to their “tuber” relatives.
Note: We’re talking about carrots alone here, not those doused in a dip, dressing or hummus, which adds calories and carbs. Cold baby carrots can do wonders all by themselves. Give them a try, especially if you get the munchies before bedtime.
3. Air-Popped Popcorn
What is a low-carb snack that will fill you up and has just the right amount of fiber and protein with a slight dusting of carbs?
The answer is popcorn, but not any old popcorn, and not at any amount.
In this instance, the solution is air-popped popcorn, which has just 6 grams of carbs per cup. Like the baby carrots idea above, the idea is to keep the ingredients as natural as possible. That means few boxed or bagged popcorn products, like the classic movie-style popcorn you see on grocery shelves.
With natural, air-popped popcorn, a slight sprinkle of cheese is OK to ensure it remains a low-carb treat. So is adding a small amount of butter or seasoning—light, exceptionally light.
But adding sugar, caramel and chocolate are strict no-nos for high-protein, low-carb snacks. So is adding salt or oil, the latter of which can double the caloric makeup of popcorn.
4. Greek Yogurt
Once a harder-to-find commodity, Greek yogurt has exploded into mainstream popularity and is now available at your everyday corner convenience store, coffeehouse, restaurant—even airports.
That’s good news for low-carb snack enthusiasts.
Every serving of Greek yogurt is packed with protein. It’ll also keep you full longer without spiking your blood sugar like most sweetened yogurts do. Per a BMJ Open journal study of 900 yogurts, natural and Greek yogurts had significantly lower sugar content than yogurts in all the other categories.
Even low-fat or low-calorie yogurts are masquerading as a reliable health food. In these instances, salt or sugar is added to improve the taste. Always make sure to check the label.
Or save yourself the time and stick to proven Greek yogurt instead.
5. Blueberries, Raspberries and Strawberries
When it comes to sweet low-carb snacks, the best fruits tend to be those in the berries category, particularly blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.
A half-cup of raspberries, for instance, reportedly yields three grams of carbs. Blackberries eaten in the same amount have four grams of carbs, and strawberries have six grams in the same serving.
We know: Berries are fruits that taste sweet because they contain a fair amount of natural sugar and carbohydrates. There is a reason they’re called nature’s candy.
But the facts don’t lie: Berries are low-calorie friendly in small servings.
Again, it’s all about moderation.
6. Guacamole and Sliced Veggies
Guacamole gets a green light from low-carb diets because its main ingredient, avocado, is low in carbs and high in an assortment of key nutrients, including potassium, magnesium and monounsaturated fats.
This nutritional lineup makes guacamole an easy low-carb snack to buy when served with two options: low-carb, keto-friendly chips or, even better, raw veggies, which are easier to find and never lack taste.
The most common veggies to eat with low-carb guacamole include sliced bell peppers, celery sticks, broccoli, cucumbers and cauliflower.
7. Seed Mix
Do you like trail mix? Many do. It’s easy to see why: It’s filling, flavorful and easy to make and carry around.
But trail mix is not always a healthy option, not when you sprinkle in candy, salt, chocolate and certain cereals—a trio that adds unneeded calories, sodium and sugar content, which causes weight gain and contributes to other health issues.
A better alternative? Seed mix.
Per Business Insider, 30 grams of pumpkin, sunflower and hemp seed mix equals just 175 calories, five grams of carbs and seven grams of protein. Seeds are also a reliable source of protein and healthy fats.
Other seeds you can mix in include sesame and flax seeds. Also, lightly roasting the seeds tends to enhance their flavor.
8. Cheese and Peppers
Most of the items listed are quick items you can pull from a fridge. But what if you have a few extra minutes and want to cook something low-carb and tasty on the stove?
One option: Ricotta cheese and peppers.
It’s a popular combination, but this suggestion comes with a twist: Instead of using whole-milk ricotta cheese, switch to part-skim. One ounce of part-skim ricotta cheese has about 39 calories, 1.5 grams of carbs and 3.2 grams of protein.
Using part-skim ricotta also boosts the calcium and protein intake of the low-carb snack without upping any saturated fats.
9. Beef Jerky
Beef jerky is a convenient, easy-to-find and mess-free option for low-carb snacks. Protein-packed beef jerky is carb- and sugar-free and can be matched with a high-fat food item to make the ideal keto snack.
But like the Greek yogurt vs. sweetened yogurt comparison above, you need to read the nutrition label of your beef jerky package.
Does it have three or fewer grams of carbs and sugar? If so, it’s likely a winner, experts say.
If not, watch out. Many beef jerky brands can have as many as 10 grams of carbs per serving. Like low-fat or low-calorie sweetened yogurts, some beef jerky brands add sugar or sugar-based ingredients like high-fructose corn syrup and honey to improve taste and production.
At FEW, women’s health is regularly advocated for and encouraged via various year-round activities. Here, we have resources to address several women’s health issues, including heart disease, cholesterol and breast cancer—all conditions that low-carb snacks can help alleviate.