11 healthy plant-based snacks in 2020

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Four Sigmatic

  • Even if you’re not vegetarian, plant-based snacks are an easy way to get a healthy serving of fiber and vitamins in a day.
  • Plant-based snacks have come far beyond carrot sticks and fruit slices — now they includes crackers, dark chocolate nut clusters, and dips like hummus.
  • We’ve rounded up 11 of our favorite plant-based snacks that not only help boost the number of vegetable servings we get each day but also taste good enough for us to want a second or third helping.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition and wellness expert with a private practice based in New York City.
  • See also: best vegan protein powders, The best snack subscription boxes

If you’ve been making an effort to eat more plant-based, you’re not alone: A study conducted by Ipsos Retail Performance found that a whopping 9.7 million Americans identified as plant-based in 2019, compared to a mere 290,000 people back in 2004.

The leap isn’t surprising considering the nearly endless health benefits linked to a plant-based diet. What’s more, plant-based snacks and meals are more widely-available (and much tastier) than they have been in years past.

Even if you aren’t vegetarian or vegan, loading up on the foods can help you score more servings of produce in a day — something most all of us struggle with. “Getting the recommended 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day isn’t an easy reach for most people. But you are likely going to snack, so you might as well power-pack the nutritional benefits,” Christina Jax, RDN, a nutritionist with healthy eating app Lifesum, tells Insider.

How to shop for plant-based snacks

Jax defines healthy plant-based snacks as nutrient-dense, loaded with vitamins and minerals, and a source of natural fiber and phytonutrients, which are chemicals only found in plants that release various antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory benefits.

New York-based nutritionist Erika Villalobos, RD, tells Insider that when shopping for plant-based snacks, the less processed the product, the better. “Keep it simple,” says Villalobos. That translates to a short ingredient list with words you can pronounce.

It sounds tedious, but reviewing nutrition labels and ingredients lists are key steps to smart snacking. According to Jax, the first three ingredients listed on the label are the most important — ingredients are listed in order by weight (highest to lowest), so the first few are what a bar or chip is primarily made from.

Another thing to check: at least two of the three first ingredients are actual plants, Jax says. However, remember that’s more than just fruits and vegetables: “Grains, fungi, nuts, and seeds are also plants,” Jax says. 

For grain-focused snacks, make sure they’re made of whole grains and don’t contain a bunch of synthetic ingredients.

Lastly, you also want a snack to be a source of protein for energy and satiety and have minimal added sugars to avoid a crash in blood sugar. “[Something that will] give you that boost you need and you will not be hungry an hour later,” Villalobos explains.

These guidelines are everything you need for the nutritional value of a snack. But there’s another huge component to picking something to nosh on: How it tastes. That’s where I come in — everything on this list meets our nutritional standards and passed a real-life taste test.

Here are the best plant-based snacks to treat yourself to:

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