Top Packaged Snacks for Diabetes
Having a healthy snack for diabetes is actually quite similar to general healthy snacking guidelines (with just a few caveats). Whether or not you have diabetes, snacks that are made primarily from whole foods, especially plant foods, are key to overall health. This means snacking on more fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains along with some dairy.
In addition, building snacks that contain a balance of protein, fiber, and healthy fat, and limit added sugars, will not only stabilize blood sugar, which is key for diabetes management, but also give you consistent energy to live your fullest life. Because people with diabetes are twice as likely as someone without diabetes to develop heart disease, it's also important to follow heart-healthy eating guidelines, including limiting saturated fat and sodium (these are also great healthy eating guidelines for anyone to follow).
While whole food snack options like fruit with nuts or veggies with hummus are ideal for boosting your nutrient intake, sometimes you just need something that comes in a package — whether it's for convenience or just because you feel like eating something different. The good news is, the snack market has come a long way in recent years and there are plenty of great options that not only taste great but help you keep your blood sugar—and health—in check.
To help you choose the best snacks for diabetes, we've rounded up the best products spanning 17 snack categories from popcorn and chips to yogurt, trail mix, and bars, and everything in between.
How we chose the featured products
When evaluating the hundreds of snacks that span the grocery store shelves, we considered taste, nutrition (see guidelines below), ingredients lists (are whole foods the foundation of this snack?), availability (can you get them at most grocery stores or easily online?), and price (we aimed to cover a range of budgets).
- 200 calories or less
- < 2g saturated fat
- < 360mg sodium
- 15g carbohydrates or less (equal to 1 carbohydrate serving)
- >2g protein
You'll notice that a handful of our picks contain slightly more carbohydrates per serving (up to 18g/serving). We recommend these products because they also contain more fiber and protein or other beneficial nutrients than other available products. Rounding guidelines for carbohydrate servings suggest that up to 20g carbohydrates counts as one carbohydrate serving. These guidelines are similar to our homemade diabetes-snack snack guidelines.
Why We Love It: It's perfectly cheesy and contains just enough crunch for a flavored popcorn. With a generous serving size of 3.5 cups containing 3g of protein and 3g of fiber, you're guaranteed to feel satisfied with this snack. It's also made with just a handful of simple ingredients and is both vegan and certified gluten-free. But if cheddar isn't your jam, almost any of the SkinnyPop savory flavors are a good option—just skip the sweet flavors that contain added sugar.
Nutrition facts per serving (3.5 cups):
8g fat (1.5g sat fat)
1g sugar (0g added sugar)
Winner: Terra Heritage Blend Chips
Why We Love It: Made with a mix of regular, sweet, and purple potatoes plus beets, this blend offers more nutrients—including some antioxidants—than most other potato chips on the market. Plus they're made with only two ingredients—the vegetables and a little oil. Taste-wise, they measure up with plenty of crunch and tons of flavor.
Nutrition per 1 ounce serving:
6g fat (0.5g sat fat)
6g sugar (0g added sugar)
A note about tortilla chips: depending on the type of chip you like—thick cut, thin restaurant-style, blue corn, yellow corn, white corn, etc.—there are many different options to choose from. Be mindful of serving sizes and pair with a healthy dip (see our picks below) to balance out the snack and help you stick to one serving.
Why We Love It: The black beans give these chips a nutritional leg up with more protein and fiber than other tortilla-style chips. They also contain a mix of corn, flax, sesame, and sunflower seeds, lending a hearty flavor. One serving also contains more chips than many other options on the market, allowing you to enjoy a few more bites! But most importantly, they pair well with your two favorite tortilla chip dips — salsa and guacamole.
Nutrition facts per 1 ounce serving (about 10 chips)
6g fat (0.5g sat fat)
Dried Vegetables Snacks
Why We Love It: Made with dehydrated vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and a few herbs and spices, these veggie balls are packed with equal parts nutrients and flavor. Plus with 7g protein and 3g fiber per serving, they're guaranteed to keep you full between meals.
Nutrition per 7 pops (1 ounce serving)
7g fat (1g sat fat)
190 mg sodium
The Winner: Mary's Gone Super Seed Everything
Why We Love It: If you're as obsessed with everything seasoning as we are, you're going to love these crackers. But it's the ingredient list that steals the show in the cracker market. They're made with whole grains, seeds, and a few spices, which makes them a great snack on their own—or paired with a dip or low-fat cheese (see suggestions for both below).
Nutrition per 12 crackers
7g fat (1g sat fat)
Winner: Biena Chickpea Puffs Vegan Ranch
Why We Love It: Remember those orange cheese puffs that came in a can from your childhood? These chickpea puffs are reminiscent of those, except made with ingredients you can feel great about. All three flavors—vegan ranch, blazin' hot, and vegan white cheddar—provide a good mix of protein and fiber and fewer carbs than most other salty snacks. The only problem? They can be a bit addictive, so portion out your serving and eat them mindfully.
Nutrition per 1 ounce serving
7g fat (1g sat fat)
1g sugar (0g added sugar)
Why We Love It: Cabot cheddars are some of the best tasting on the market (you know, without breaking the bank). Because the majority of fat in cheese is saturated fat—which should be limited—we recommend choosing the low-fat cheddar, and with Cabot you're not sacrificing flavor when you cut some of the fat.
Nutrition per 21g bar
3g fat (2g sat fat)
160 mg sodium
Why We Love It: If you're craving crunch and a burst of flavor—whether buffalo wing, nacho cheese, ranch, cocoa, and more—these dried broad bean snacks are for you. Perfectly portioned at 110 calories with 6g of protein and 3g of fiber (and no saturated fat), they are not only better for you than many other salty snacks, but also offer the health benefits of eating more beans.
Nutrition for 1 ounce of Buffalo Wing flavor (other flavors are similar)
4g fat (0g sat fat)
Brami Beans (choose 1oz serving to keep sodium in check)
A note on cookies: Most low-carb cookies contain artificial or alternative sweeteners, which are exponentially sweeter than sugar. While these can have a place in a diabetes-friendly diet, we generally recommend limiting the use of alternative sweeteners as they can actually increase sweet cravings and appetite. Instead, look for lower-sugar options made with the real stuff and be mindful about when and how many cookies you eat.
Why We Love It: When you want a lower-carb cookie that is made with real ingredients, this is the cookie for you. Just a little added sugar goes a long way in making these cookies perfect for satisfying a sweet craving. The mini size also allows you to eat more of them, without worrying about overdoing it on the carbs. And while we don't typically think about cookies contributing vitamins to our diet, that's a nice added bonus of the added vegetable extracts found in these.
A note about nut butters: when shopping for nut butters, the most important thing to look at is the ingredients list. Choose ones where the only ingredient is just the nut (a little salt is OK, too!). Many nut butters add unnecessary oils and sugar — skip these! Whether it's peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, or another nut or seed, we recommend choosing the nut you like best as every nut offers a different group of nutrients that contribute to health.
Why We Love It: It's one of the creamiest, sweetest "natural" peanut butters on the market and is made with just peanuts and salt. If chunky peanut butter more is your thing, Teddie's also makes a chunky version. Pair with an apple for the perfect balanced snack.
Nutrition Facts per 2 Tbsp (32g)
16g fat (2.5g sat fat)
A note on yogurts: plain yogurt (add your own fresh fruit) is typically the best option because it doesn't contain any added sugar, and we recommend choosing Greek or Icelandic over regular yogurt for the higher protein content. However, we know that sometimes you just want something with a little more flavor. The below are the best lower-sugar options currently on the market.
Winner: Siggi's Black Cherry 2%
Why We Love It: Most flavored yogurts are loaded with added sugar or contain alternative sweeteners, which we recommend limiting. But Siggi's has created a just-sweet-enough flavored yogurt with only 4g of added sugar (and no alternative sweeteners!). It's also perfectly creamy and has a very "natural" black cherry flavor. It's great on its own, or for an even more nutritious snack, top it with your favorite fresh fruit and a handful of nuts.
Nutrition facts per 1 container (150g)
3g fat (1.5g saturated fat)
6g sugar (4g added sugar)
Chobani Less Sugar Greek Yogurt Clingstone Peach (and other flavors)
Why We Love It: Of all of the cottage cheese we tested, this is by far the creamiest and best-tasting option. With 14g protein per half cup serving, cottage cheese is a filling snack that can be enjoyed on its own or paired with your favorite fruit or vegetable, depending if you like it sweet or savory. Good Culture cottage cheese is higher in sodium than the other brands featured below, so keep that in mind when choosing the best option for you.
Nutrition per ½ cup serving
2.5g fat (1.5g sat fat)
340 mg sodium
3g sugar (0g added sugar)
Winner: Wholly Guacamole Mini Cups
Why We Love It: Guacamole, which is made primarily from avocados, is packed with nutrients from heart healthy monounsaturated fats to fiber, potassium, and antioxidants. While guacamole doesn't quite meet our protein goal for a snack, the healthy fat and fiber make up for it, both of which can slow digestion and keep your blood sugar stable. Pair with fresh veggies or a small handful of your favorite tortilla chip for a satisfying snack.
Nutrition per 1 mini cup (57g)
11g fat (2g sat fat)
Dried & Dehydrated Fruit
A note on dried fruit: dried fruit can be part of a healthy diabetes diet, but it's important to be mindful about the amount of carbohydrates found in dried fruit. Because water is removed, the per-serving amount of carbs is typically higher than in whole fruit. Many dried fruits contain over 30g of carbs per serving (the ones here contain 26g or less). When choosing dried fruits, look for ones without added sugar and choose fruits that are a little higher in fiber like figs, strawberries, blueberries, apricots and prunes. We also recommend pairing dried fruit with nuts or another food that contains protein and healthy fats to slow digestion.
Winner: Natierra Premium Strawberries
Why we love it: If you're looking for a sweet, crunchy snack that pairs well with nuts, seeds, or even plain yogurt, these strawberries are for you. They're lower in carbohydrate than most other dried and dehydrated fruits and are an excellent source of vitamin C.
Nutrition facts per 1 bag:
11g sugar (0g added sugar)
Winner: Back to Nature Harvest Blend
Why We Love It: A delicious blend of nuts, seeds, and fruit with no added sugar makes this a healthy snack when you need an energy boost. It's full of both poly and monounsaturated fats — both great for heart health. The mix of nuts and seeds also provides a variety of nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, and iron, as well as some phytonutrients.
Nutrition per ¼ cup
11g fat (1g sat fat)
10g sugar (0g added sugar)
A note on flavored nuts and seeds: this category is full of great options and below are just a few of our favorites. When choosing a flavored nut or seed look for options with little to no added sugar and a reasonable amount of sodium.
Why We Love It: When you're craving a little chocolate, these chocolate dusted pumpkin seeds are the perfect solution. They're packed with heart healthy nutrients including mono and polyunsaturated fats, magnesium, and potassium as well as some plant-based iron, making them as nutritious as they are delicious. They also come with a super simple ingredient list with only a little added sugar, making them the clear winner in this category.
Winner: Perfect Kids Chocolate Chip Bar
Why We Love It: Though it's marketed to kids, it's just a smaller, snack-sized version of their standard chocolate chip bar, which tastes like raw cookie dough (yum). It's a well balanced bar with healthy fats, fiber, and protein, made mostly from whole foods, and even includes some vegetables (though you'd never know). What could be more perfect?
Nutrition per bar:
10g fat (2g sat fat)
7g sugar (5g added sugar)