When those snack cravings occur, a lot of us tend to crave either sweet or salty snacks—but which is healthier?

Andrea Mathis, M.A., R.D.N., L.D.; Reviewed by Jessica Ball, M.S., R.D.
July 07, 2020
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Since most of us are spending more time at home, you may have noticed that you've been making more trips to the kitchen in search of a satisfying snack. According to previous research from California Walnuts, studies show that about one in two Americans confess they are snacking more than before the pandemic began, and two in five of those expect to see this behavior continue after the shelter-in-place mandates are lifted.

When choosing the perfect snack, comfort seems to be the first priority. We tend to choose snacks that will make us feel good and provide us with relief from our day-to-day stressors. Snacking in moderation can be a great way to keep your mind focused and supply your body with nutrients needed throughout the day. When those snack cravings occur, a lot of us tend to crave either sweet or salty snacks—but which is healthier?

Getty / LauriPatterson

Salty snacks like chips, pretzels and crackers are very common snacks, and we all reach for them from time to time. According to the Journal of Health Psychology, we tend to crave salty snacks when we are experiencing a hormonal fluctuation due to changes in stress levels. Another study shows that salty cravings may be a result of dehydration. Satisfying your salty cravings can give your body some much-needed nutrients. A few healthier salty snack options may include nuts, whole-wheat crackers, or popcorn sprinkled with a little sea salt. If you are worried you are eating too much salt, check out these sneaky signs you should cut back.

While many individuals might crave salty over sweet snacks, there are several of us with that everlasting "sweet tooth" that causes us to suddenly crave a sweet snack. Studies show that sweet cravings may be associated with low blood sugar levels and an increase in emotional stress. According to the Department of Internal Medicine at Ribeirão Preto Medical School, stressed women were more prone to sweet cravings than women without stress. If you're looking for a couple of healthy sweet snack options, try low-fat yogurt sweetened with fruit or a serving of dark chocolate.

Whether you prefer sweet or salty snacks, you can choose healthy snacks options in both categories. Having a snack in between meals is not a bad thing as long as it's done in moderation. Understanding why our bodies crave sweet or salty snacks helps us to understand what our bodies need to maintain a healthy balanced life. So, don't ignore those sweet and salty cravings—instead, make healthy food choices and enjoy your snacks!