A nutritionist who cut down on ultra-processed foods shares his 5 go-to grocery-store snacks

  • Snack foods like cookies and chips tend to be convenient but ultra-processed.

  • If you're trying to cut down on UPFs, snacking between meals can therefore be a real challenge.

  • The nutritionist Rob Hobson shares the minimally processed snacks he buys from the store.

When hunger strikes, grabbing a 3 p.m. chocolate-chip cookie or after-work bag of chips can tempt even the most disciplined and dedicated healthy eaters.

That's probably because snack foods like these tend to be ultra-processed, meaning they've been designed to be convenient and hyperpalatable, where food is made particularly enticing with the perfect combo of fat, sugar, and salt.

"These foods are marketed to us, and they are quite irresistible," the UK-based nutritionist Rob Hobson told Business Insider. "You want to keep eating more of them." But there are minimally processed, healthier snacks at the store if you know what to look for, he said.

Hobson decided to cut down on UPFs partly because they are linked to health concerns such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer. They are also associated with overeating and weight gain and tend to contain lots of salt, sugar, and saturated fats. Experts don't fully understand why processed foods are bad for our health, but the evidence suggesting that they are continues to grow.

Hobson defines UPFs as items containing five or more ingredients — many of which you wouldn't find in a regular kitchen — that often have a long shelf life and come in highly attention-grabbing packaging.

He shared with BI the minimally processed snacks that he says he picks up from the store when he's hungry and in a rush.

Fruit and nut bars

Protein bars tend to be ultra-processed, though they can certainly have their place in a balanced diet when eaten in moderation, the dietitian Taylor Grasso previously told BI.

But Hobson called snack bars made with just dried fruit and nuts a good minimally processed option. Nuts are a good source of plant-based protein and contain heart-healthy fats.

He's a fan of the British brand Nakd's bars, which can be bought online in the US.

Hummus and crudités

Another healthy snack option is hummus paired with some chopped vegetables, such as carrot sticks.

Hummus contains chickpeas, a source of fiber and protein, and olive oil, which contains healthy fats.

Hobson recommended always looking at the nutritional label because some products contain fewer additives than others.

Hummus with carrot sticks is a great healthy snack.robynmac/iStock

Nut butter and rice cakes

Hobson suggested grabbing a jar or squeezy packet of nut butter, such as peanut, almond, or cashew, with as few ingredients as possible and spreading it on a rice cake.

"That's a nice protein snack," he said.

Plain popcorn

You may be used to enjoying popcorn doused in salt and butter at the movie theater, but Hobson said it's a very healthy snack when eaten plain.

Popcorn is high in fiber and considered a whole grain, which is linked to a reduced risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Fresh fruit

Though it may sound obvious, fresh fruit, such as berries, oranges, and apples, is easy to pick up and eat on the go. You can't find a less processed snack than that.

Read the original article on Business Insider