The Best Heart-Healthy Snacks

Looking for some heart-healthy snacks that will keep you satisfied and energized between meals? Here are 10 of our top picks.

Apple with Cinnamon Almond Butter

Snacks tend to get a bad rep, but snacking on the right foods can be an important part of a healthy diet. Think about snacks as an opportunity to bring more nutrition to your day, while also keeping you energized and focused in between meals.

Instead of reaching for traditional snacks like chips, cookies, and crackers, which can contain a lot of sugar, salt, and saturated fat—all of which, in excess, can raise your risk for heart disease—try to snack more on whole foods. Fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole-grain products add fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to your day, and can contribute to a healthier heart.

That said, the snack category has evolved over the years and you can find many nutritious snacks in a package. You just have to know what to look for.

Kim Murachver, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., C.D.E., owner of Greene Nutrition, recommends choosing snacks that have at least 3g of fiber and under 200 mg of sodium. "When it comes to saturated fat, consider how much you're eating at meals and how snacks fit into that. If you are at risk for heart disease, I recommend your total saturated fat intake is no more than 15-20g per day," says Murachver.

With that in mind, you may be wondering what food fit into those specs. Here are 10 of the healthiest snacks to eat for your heart.

1. Apple with Nuts or Nut Butter

Many studies have shown the heart-health benefits of regularly eating nuts. For example, a 2019 study in Circulation Research states that many meta-analyses have demonstrated that frequent consumption of nuts is linked with a lower risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure) and cardiovascular disease.

Bonus: Nut butter counts, too. And when you combine nut butter with fruits and vegetables that also have heart-healthy components, you multiply your heart-health superpowers.

"Apples contain phytonutrients and pectin, both of which are associated with improvements in cardiovascular risk factors," notes Murachver. Combining an apple with nut butter creates a powerful snack for your heart, plus the mix of fiber and healthy fats helps keep you full.

2. Roasted Chickpeas

Eating beans, like chickpeas, is linked to a 14% reduced risk of heart disease when comparing those who eat the most legumes to those who eat the least, according to a 2019 study in Advances in Nutrition.

"Much of the benefit comes from the fiber as well as the plant sterols, including sitosterol, which help reduce cholesterol and contribute to better heart health," says Murachver.

Roasted chickpeas are the perfect snack to satisfy a crunch craving, and they can be made savory or sweet. For a flavor burst, Murachver likes to toss them with a little olive oil, garlic, and smoked paprika. This recipe for Spiced Chickpea "Nuts" is a great place to start.

If making your own at home feels like too much, buy a bag of roasted chickpeas. Just watch out for flavors that contain a lot of salt or added sugar. Aim for less than 200mg of sodium or less than 4g of added sugar per serving, if possible.

3. Energy Balls

Many homemade energy balls pack a lot of heart-healthy ingredients into one small bite. Choose ones with oats, since they have cholesterol-lowering effects, per a 2018 review in Food & Function, and nuts, seeds or nut butter for their healthy unsaturated fats.

For an even bigger punch, add chia, flax, or hemp seed for some omega-3 fatty acids. According to a 2021 review in The Lancet, omega-3s have been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular events, like heart attacks, and improved outcomes when they do happen.

Need some inspiration? Try our Carrot Cake Energy Bites.

4. Whole-Grain Crackers with Hummus

"Whole grains contain fiber, which helps lower cholesterol," says Murachver. Look for crackers that list whole wheat or another whole grain as the first ingredient and be mindful of sodium and added sugar in crackers.

Pair whole-grain crackers with hummus for some extra fiber, a little plant-based protein and healthy fats. A 2020 review in Nutrients suggests that including hummus in your diet promotes cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol, blood lipids, and blood pressure.

5. Roasted Carrots with Dip

Roasting carrots not only brings out more flavor, but the olive oil used to roast them adds heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Roast a bunch at the beginning of the week for an easy grab-and-go snack. Pair with an avocado or tahini-based dip for even more heart-healthy fats packed into your snack. If you prefer the crunch of raw carrots, that's a great option too.

6. Roasted Spiced Nuts

Bored with raw almonds? We're with you. Try adding some flavor by tossing your favorite nuts or seeds in olive oil and then add your favorite spices. "Nuts and olive oil provide a combination of mono and polyunsaturated fats, which are associated with lower LDL cholesterol," says Murachver.

Murachver's favorite combo is a drizzle of maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice and a pinch of salt. Packaged flavored nuts can be a good option as well—just watch the excess salt and sugar.

7. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are a good source of magnesium, which may lower blood pressure and reduce your risk for heart disease, per a 2020 review in the Journal of Women's Health. They also contain fiber, unsaturated fat, and plant-based protein, all of which contribute to heart health and make for a satisfying snack. Similar to nuts and dried chickpeas, store-bought versions are a good convenient option. Or, try our Pumpkin Seeds with Everything Bagel Seasoning.

8. Green Smoothie

Smoothies are the perfect way to pack in a lot of nutrients that promote heart health. For example, our Really Green Smoothie is filled with good-for-you ingredients, like bananas. Bananas add sweetness to the smoothie and contain potassium, a mineral linked to lower blood pressure, per a 2018 review article in the journal Hypertension.

The avocado in this smoothie creates an incredibly creamy texture and contributes monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to have cardiovascular health benefits, according to a 2018 review in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Pair that with the omega-3s and fiber in chia seeds and nutrient-packed spinach, and you have an incredibly heart-healthy snack in a glass.

9. Greek Yogurt with Berries

There's some debate about whether or not dairy is good for you and your heart. However, a 2018 review in the American Journal of Hypertension suggests that eating yogurt may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

In general, it's recommended that you stick to low-fat dairy products to limit saturated fat and it's best to choose plain yogurt to limit added sugar. Greek yogurt contains more protein than regular yogurt, which can make your snack more satisfying. Pair the yogurt with berries, such as blueberries, which have been linked to improved heart health, per a 2019 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

10. Edamame

Not only is edamame fun to eat when in the shell, but according to a 2019 review in The Journal of Nutrition, eating soy protein has been shown to lower cholesterol by about 3-4%.

Edamame also contains fiber, polyunsaturated fat, and other phytonutrients that contribute to heart health. Try edamame with a squeeze of lemon or lime and some cayenne pepper for a low-sodium snack option.

Bottom Line

When snacking, think about what you can add to your diet rather than what to take away. Both homemade and packaged snacks have a place in your kitchen. In either case, choose snacks that include heart-healthy ingredients like nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

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