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Over the past few years, health experts have repeatedly stressed the importance of eating a plant-based diet. Eating the majority of your foods from plant sources has been linked to a slew of health benefits like reducing your risk of heart disease, some cancers, obesity, diabetes, and mental decline.
That doesn’t mean you have to be a vegetarian or vegan to reap the benefits. “Being on a plant-based diet does not mean you give up all sources of animal protein,” Gina Keatley, a certified dietitian-nutritionist practicing in New York City, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “It simply means that a majority of your daily calories are coming from plant sources.” Plants tend to have high amounts of fiber, vitamins, and minerals — all of which are important for good health, Keatley says.
While that’s doable when you’re making actual meals, it’s a little trickier when it comes to snacks. Luckily, there are a bunch of great plant-based snacks on the market to help feed your appetite between meals, while also doing your health a solid.
“Today there are many plant-based snacks made from whole ingredients” Beth Warren, RDN, founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Secrets of a Kosher Girl, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. She recommends looking for “minimally processed products with ingredients you can recognize.”
Keatley agrees. “Generally speaking, the more a product is processed, the more ‘good stuff’ is removed,” she says. You also want some diversity in your snacks. “Don't eat one type of plant-based snack exclusively as some plants have a nutrition profile different from others,” Keatley says. Finally, be wary of high-fat , high-calorie snacks, as well as those that are fried. “This may defeat the purpose of having plant-based snacks in the first place,” Keatley says.
Here are a few plant-based snacks that fit the bill:
With a little sweetness and a lot of crunch, these coconut clusters make for an awesome snack. They’re 100 percent organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, and vegan, don’t contain any artificial preservatives or colors. They’re also packed with pumpkin, sunflower, and chia seeds.
Shop it: InnoFoods Coconut Clusters with Organic Super Seeds, $12.50, amazon.com
Perfect for when you want something sweet, these chewy little squares are delicious and easy to tote. The ingredients list is simple: dates, strawberries, mangos, pistachios, chia seeds, ginger powder, and a little rice flour. Each square is also free of GMOs and gluten, and packed with antioxidants, fiber, protein, vitamins, and Omega 3 fatty acids.
Shop it: Good & Ugly Strawberry Pistachio Fruit & Nut Bites, $8, amazon.com
RXBAR is known for focusing on plant-based foods that are packed with protein, and this bar is no exception. The bar is made with egg whites, dates, cashews, and pecans — that’s it. It contains no added sugar, gluten, dairy, or soy, and is free from artificial flavors and preservatives.
Shop it: RXBAR Maple Sea Salt, $18 for 12-pack, amazon.com
If you’re looking for a good salty, crunchy, and healthy replacement for potato chips, this is it. Good Bean’s chickpeas are lightly dusted with salt and then dry roasted slowly to give them a nice crunch. They’re also gluten-free, nut -free, soy-free, and vegan.
Shop it: The Good Bean Sea Salt Flavor Crispy Crunchy Chickpeas, $12, amazon.com
Lupini beans are in the pea family, and this little lupini bean snack is a great way to get a flavorful, savory snack in. Brami’s chili and lime beans contain 50 percent more protein than eggs, 50 percent more protein than chickpeas, and twice the amount of fiber as edamame. The snack isn’t baked, fried, or dried — it's actually pickled!
Shop it: BRAMI Lupini Beans Snack, Chili & Lime, $19 for eight-pack, amazon.com
Lentils are packed with protein — and so is this plant-based snack. The Crunchy Little Lentils are peanut-free, gluten-free, and vegan, and have a yummy barbecue taste. They’re also a great source of fiber and are low in fat.
Shop it: Three Farmers Crunchy Little Lentils, $27 for six-pack, amazon.com
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