The baked whole wheat cracker or the popcorn (also a whole grain) topped with cheddar cheese and salt: Which is worse?
Worse: Smartfood Popcorn
Popcorn is a wonderfully healthy food until you start putting stuff on top of it. “People think, ‘it’s popcorn; I’m not eating something bad,’” says Cheryl Kestenbaum, C.D.N, of Columbia Doctors Medical Group. “But the way the industry makes it taste good is by loading it with fat and salt.” The Smartfood has 10 grams of fat (2 saturated) compared to 4.5 grams in the Triscuits. You know what do.
Also see: 100 Healthy Snacks Under 200 Calories
Pretzel M&Ms v. Hershey’s Kisses
Maybe it was the grocery check-out aisle or the leftover Halloween candy, but whichever the culprit, you fell victim to the lure of chocolate. Which one of these guilty pleasures is worse, sweet-and-salty M&Ms or pure chocolate Hershey's kisses?
Worse: Hershey’s Kisses
Nine Hershey’s Kisses (that’s one serving) are higher in calories (200 vs. 150), fat (12 grams vs. 5 grams) and sugar (23 grams vs. 16 grams) than one 1.14 ounce bag of Pretzel M&Ms. “The M&Ms might cure the craving both for something sweet and salty but with lower calories and less fat,” says Sandon. If nine Kisses sounds like a lot, consider that one kiss has 22 calories. Eat only four and you have a snack that comes in at less than 100 calories.
Also see: Which is Worse? Chinese Takeout
Dannon Oikos Fat-Free Yogurt vs. Laughing Cow Mini Babybel Original Cheese
Sometimes you just need a little bit of dairy to make it through the day. Do you opt for the thick and creamy Oikos Greek yogurt or the rich and smooth Babybel cheese? Which is worse?
Worse: Mini Babybel Original Cheese
If you’re considering either of these as a snack, kudos to you says Sandon. They’re both healthy choices, but there is a winner here, and Laughing Cow isn’t it. Yes, the cheese has a lot fewer calories -- one Mini Babybel has 70 calories vs. 130 in the yogurt, but the cheese has 6 grams of fat compared to 0 grams in the yogurt. Then there’s the belly-filling protein: Oikos’ with 12 grams (compared to Babybel’s 5 grams) lessening the odds that you’ll be scavenging for more food before dinnertime.
Also see: 9 Smart Tricks for Healthy Eating
Chex Mix vs. Pop Chips
It’s veg-out time and you’re ready to dive into a bag of crunchy goodness. Do you opt for the Chex Mix and its blend of cereal, nuts, pretzels, butter and Worcestershire sauce, or the potato chips that are “popped” with the help of a pressure cooker? Which is worse?
Worse: Chex Mix
These two are actually very close in terms of calories and total fat. A 1-ounce serving of Chex Mix has 120 calories; a slightly smaller serving (0.8 ounces) of Pop Chips has 100. The Chex Mix has 4 grams of fat and the Pop Chips 3 grams. But here's the game changer: Chex Mix has 1 gram of saturated fat and 31 percent more sodium than the Pop Chips (210 milligrams vs. 160 milligrams). “None of us need excess sodium,” says Sandon. “Most of the sodium we get comes from pre-packaged foods like these. So if we can make tweaks by choosing the lower-sodium foods, it can make a difference at the end of the day.”
Also see: 51 'Healthy' Foods that Really Aren't
Hershey Chocolate Bar vs. 6-Pack Oreo Cookies
It’s 3 p.m. and it’s happened again: You’ve succumbed to the lure of the office vending machine. Should you press the button for the chocolate bar or embrace your inner child and opt for the Oreos? Which is worse?
Worse: 6-Pack Oreo Cookies
The Oreos are the loser here not because of calories (only 60 more than the Hershey’s chocolate bar) or fat (the chocolate actually has more). It’s the sodium numbers that have Sandon shaking her head. The snack-size Oreos have 310 milligrams of sodium, 10 times as much as you find in the Hershey bar. “You’re trading a little more fat in the Hershey’s for less sodium,” says Sandon. “It’s not a great trade-off, but it’s a trade-off nonetheless.” If you can, Sandon says choose the Hershey Special Dark Chocolate Bar, which has fewer calories, less fat and less sodium than the milk chocolate variety, as well as those disease-preventing antioxidants.
Also see: Which Is Worse? Battle of the Fast Food Breakfasts
Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps vs. Cheez-It
It’s salty snack time: Do you reach for the pretzel-shaped crackers or the cheese-flavored squares? Which is worse?
If you’ve ever had to wipe your greasy hands after eating a fistful of Cheez-It, you know they have some fat: 8 grams (2 saturated) per serving. The Pretzel Crisps have zero fat and fewer calories -- 110 vs. 150. “This is a snack, so you don’t want to load up on excess calories and fat,” says Sandon.
Dried Apricots vs. Planters Trail Mix Nuts and Chocolate
Should you opt for the concentrated sweetness of dried fruit or the combination of peanuts, chocolate, raisins, almonds and cashews? Which is worse?
Worse: Planters Trail Mix Nuts and Chocolate
“The trail mix has 9 grams of fat,” says Kestenbaum. “Do you know how much time you have to spend in the gym to work that off?” Even worse, one 150-calorie serving is just 3 tablespoons. “Who’s going to eat just 3 tablespoons?” she asks. Instead, you can eat six whole dried apricots for about 100 calories and also get a third of your daily requirement of iron, 2 grams of fiber with no fat at all.
Pringles Snack Pack vs. Doritos Singles
Snack sizes are a great way to master portion control, but not all are created equal. So when you need a chip, should you opt for Pringles or Doritos? Which is worse?
Worse: Doritos Singles
The Pringles have 40 fewer calories, less fat (7 grams vs. 8) and sodium (115 vs. 180) than the Doritos. “Either one is not a great choice to have every day, but if you’re going to snack, you want to watch calories and sodium, so go with the Pringles,” says Sandon.
Veggie Booty vs. Sun Chips Multigrain Snacks
The Veggie Booty is a popcorn-like snack made from rice and corn puffs. The Sun Chips are corn and wheat that have the crunch of a potato chip but the taste of a cracker. Which is worse?
Worse: Sun Chips Multigrain Snacks
These two are nearly identical in calories and fat, but the Sun Chips have 120 milligrams of sodium compared to only 90 in the Veggie Booty. Also with the Booty, you get a smidgeon of vitamin A (15 percent of your recommended intake) and Vitamin C (10 percent). “You get zero of that in your Sun Chips,” says Sandon.
Sundried Tomato and Basil Wheat Thins vs. Quaker Quakes Cheddar Rice Snacks
When you’re noshing, should you reach for the snack made with wheat or rice? Which is worse?
Worse: Quaker Quakes Cheddar Rice Snacks
A look at the sodium shows why the Quakes are the loser: 410 milligrams, which is nearly 20 percent of your recommended daily intake. The Wheat Thins have 170 milligrams, plus 2 grams of fiber. “And we need every gram of fiber we can get,” says Kestenbaum.your recommended intake) and Vitamin C (10 percent). “You get zero of that in your Sun Chips,” says Sandon.
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